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Yehezkel Abramsky (Hebrew: יחזקאל אברמסקי‎) (February 7, 1886 – September 19, 1976), known affectionately as Reb Chatzkel Abramsky, was one of the most eminent Orthodox rabbis of the 20th century who headed the London Beth Din for 17 years.

Rabbinate and scholarship

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Yehezkel Abramsky was born near Most and Grodno (Hrodna) in Belarus, the third child and eldest son of Mordechai Zalman Abramsky, a local timber merchant, and his wife, Freydel Goldin of Grodno, and studied at the yeshivas of Telz, Mir, Slabodka and particularly Brisk under Rabbi Chaim Soloveitchik. At the age of 17 he became a rabbi, serving, in turn, the communities of Smolyan, Smolevich and Slutsk. In 1909 he married Reizel, daughter of Rabbi Moshe Nahum Jerusalimsky, the rabbi of Iehumen, Russia.

Following the Russian Revolution, he was at the forefront of opposition to Communist attempts to repress the Jewish religion and culture. As a result the Russian government refused Abramsky permission to take up the rabbinate of Petah Tikva in the land of Israel in both 1926 and 1928.

In 1928, he started a Hebrew magazine, Yagdil Torah (lit. "Make [the] Torah Great"), but the authorities closed it after two issues appeared. In 1929, he was arrested and sentenced to five years hard labor in Siberia. However, in 1931 he was rescued by the German government under Chancellor Brüning, who exchanged him for six communists they held.

London Beth Din

He emigrated to London in 1932, where he was appointed rabbi of the Machzike Hadath community in London's East End. In 1934, Chief Rabbi Joseph H. Hertz persuaded him to become the senior dayan of the London Beth Din, holding the post until he retired to Jerusalem in 1951. The appointment of an East European chareidi rabbi to the London Beth Din was a departure for the United Synagogue, and started a tradition which continues to the present day. The prestige of the London Beth Din as a world-ranking halachic authority was greatly enhanced with the appointment of Rabbi Abramsky as Rosh Beth Din. Although other renowned talmidei chachamim served both during and since his time—such as Dayan Aryeh Leib Grosnass (Lev Aryeh) and Dayan Rapaport (Be'er Avrohom), it was Dayan Abramsky above all who established the policies and customs that are followed by the London Beth Din to this day.

Following his retirement from the London Beth Din, he settled in Jerusalem. While living there he also served as a rosh yeshiva of Slabodka yeshiva in Bnei Brak.

Rabbi Abramsky died in Jerusalem on September 19, 1976 (24 Elul 5736). His funeral was attended by over 40,000 people, making it one of the largest ever seen in the city.

Genealogy

He had four sons including Professor Chimen Abramsky, and was the grandfather of Professor Samson Abramsky and Jenny Abramsky.

Awards

* In 1956, Rabbi Abramsky was awarded the Israel Prize, for Rabbinical literature.

Works

* Hazon Yehezkel ("The Vision of Yehezkel"), a 24 volume commentary on the Tosefta, written between 1925–1975, acclaimed by both rabbis and academic scholars.

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