Remembering Rabbi Simcha Krauss: ‘A drasha of substance in six minutes’

Rabbi Krauss’s successor as spiritual head of Young Israel of Hillcrest shares his thoughts.

 THE WRITER with his predecessor. (photo credit: Mike Gross)
THE WRITER with his predecessor.
(photo credit: Mike Gross)

Many people whom I have met over the past 16 years have commented to me, “Oh, you followed Rabbi Krauss...” 

Rabbi Simcha Krauss was the longest-acting rabbi of the Young Israel of Hillcrest, having served for 25 years. I became the rabbi 16-and-a-half years ago upon his retirement and subsequent aliyah, and I am honored to share a few thoughts about him – as a rabbi and as a person. 

At the outset of my tenure at the Young Israel of Hillcrest, Rabbi Krauss took the initiative to personally share with me a few specific points of guidance and advice, and his genuine interest in my success was apparent to me throughout the past many years.

On occasions when he heard me speaking in shul or elsewhere in public, he never hesitated to compliment me. Whenever and wherever Rabbi Krauss and I have met over the past several years, he always welcomed and greeted me with warmth and graciousness. Phone conversations we had over the past years typically began with a genuine ‘shalom aleichem’ which he expressed to me. 

Rabbi Krauss was not known for being verbose, as he could succinctly and clearly articulate his thoughts and ideas in a very efficient time frame. In fact, on a few occasions when some of my drashot (sermons) were on the longer side in duration, I was reminded of how Rabbi Krauss could deliver a drasha with substance in about six minutes. 

In addition to his creativity in and analyses of Torah, the quality of his drashot and divrei Torah was infused with a deep passion for whatever he was addressing. He was not an animated speaker; he was a sincere speaker who communicated that which he wholeheartedly felt internally.

 Rabbi Simcha Krauss speaks at a dinner hosted by Yeshivat Eretz HaTzvi in his honor on Feb. 5, 2014. (credit: Courtesy Yeshivat Eretz HaTzvi/JTA) Rabbi Simcha Krauss speaks at a dinner hosted by Yeshivat Eretz HaTzvi in his honor on Feb. 5, 2014. (credit: Courtesy Yeshivat Eretz HaTzvi/JTA)

One of Rabbi Krauss’s numerous middot (character traits) was his humility. His demeanor was low-key and simple. He did not portray himself with any grandeur, nor did he look for or expect special honor. Rabbi Krauss was humble, not only because of the virtue of being so, but also because humility was a core component of his essential personality. 

Lastly, while rabbi at the Young Israel of Hillcrest, Rabbi Krauss dedicated much time and effort to assist individuals and families who were in financial need. This did not stop when he retired. After I became the rabbi, Rabbi Krauss contacted me a number of times on behalf of specific individuals whom he knew, to provide them with some assistance from the shul. 

May his Torah, generosity, and leadership serve as zechuyot (spiritual merits) for his entire family.