By Rabbi Yair Hoffman for

Join us.  Join us for a tale of two cities.  The first is a group of dedicated individuals who daven each morning with the Netz HaChama.  Afterward, they study the daily daf hayomi with their revered Rav.

They then go off to work, and regather for Mincha and Arvit.  Their Rav goes off to a Kollel, where he teaches dozens of Avreichim.  He is also, a dayan in the Shaare Tzion Bais Din

Now picture a very different community made up of Jewish people who are not exactly shomer Shabbos or shomer kashrus. True, back home, their grandparents or even their parents may have been observant. Somehow, however, the challenges of America, of making a living, of not having a social circle, caused their observance to fall by the wayside – almost immediately upon their arrival on these shores.


The second community is no longer.  Where did they go?  Have they assimilated into oblivion like so many others have in the spiritual wasteland that is America?

The answer is a resounding no – they did not.  For the second community has changed – perhaps beyond recognition. This second community has become the first community.

“He is the Rabbi Dovid Grossman of America – and North Woodmere is like Migdal HaEmek.  There are new families, Israelis and Bucharians who have embraced Torah Judaism by the hundreds,” remarked Mordechai Sharabi, a student of Rav Eliyahu who was recruited to assist in the running of the shul.

How is it possible?  How did this remarkable spiritual metamorphosis happen?

The answer?  It was the arrival of one remarkable Rabbi, Rav Yehudah Eliyahu shlita.  This Rabbi initially spoke only Hebrew.  He had studied in Porat Yoseph, then in Yeshiva Ohr Baruch. After that, the Rabbi learned in Lakewood’s BMG yeshiva.  There he was a chevrusah of one of BMG’s Roshei Yeshiva, Rav Dovid Schustal shlita.   He then returned to eretz Yisroel and studied in the Mir Yeshiva in Yerushalayim. He studied b’chevrusa with the Mir’s illustrious late Rosh Yeshiva –  Rav Nosson Tzvi Finkel zt”l.  He learned with him for four years.

“There are three minyanim every morning.  There are shiurim every night.  When Rabbi Eliyahu first came – most people were not shomer shabbat.  He deals with all the needs of the community, orphans, widows, poor families, shalom bayit issues,” remarked Ehud Felus, the president of Ohr Torah.  “Any arguments both within and without of the community he helps make shalom.  Whenever anyone needs someone for hazkarah – he is there.  Brit Yitzcho – he is therek.  He is fully proficient in Zohar.  His door is open to everyone.  He has created an atmosphere of joy here.  People have made a 180 degree turn.”

Rabbi Eliyahu and family first travelled to Hong Kong from Eretz Yisroel – where he headed the Kashrus organization there – aside from his shul duties.  He was in charge of the Kashrus of El Al’s Glatt line.  An expert in Yore Deah, he had to leave Hong Kong for health conditions and headed the Vaad HaKashrus in Staten Island.

He then came to North Woodmere and started that remarkable transformation.  His years in BMG and in Mir allowed him to imbibe the traditions and ideals of the Mussar movement.  Humble in character and deportment, he has reached out to hundreds of families and has created a dynamic new community.

“He is mechabed people in remarkable ways.  He has no airs about him and works the shul in a hands on way, just like Dovid HaMelech didn’t mind getting his hands dirty – neither does Rabbi Eliyahu,” remarked Rabbi Doniel Bak, a RaM in Yeshiva HaChaim v’haShalom in Cedarhurst.

“Rav Eliyahu is fully proficient in all shas and all four sections of shulchan aruch.  He has the whole shas online where he explains it all very clearly in Hebrew,” continued Rav Mordechai Sharabi, who had previously learned in Rav Tzvi Kushelevsky’s Yeshiva in Eretz Yisroel. It can be found at

Rabbi Eliyahu’s shul is housed at 410 Hungry Harbor Road in North Woodmere – in the building where Rav Meshulem Jungreiss zt”l and Rebbitzen Esther Jungreiss zt”l had launched their kiruv program years ago.

The president continued, “Rabbi Eliyahu is involved in ensuring that hundreds of children get a Yeshiva education.  He finds the best local mossad and helps raise the tuition for them if they can’t afford it.  I have never seen a more special individual.”

As reported by VINnews