Rabbi Mordechai Rindenow, a loved and respected figure from the US Jewish community whose son was killed in an IDF training accident four years ago and who made aliyah four months ago, died last Thursday of COVID-19. He was 64.
Rindenow was a rabbi and psychologist and a direct descendant of the founder of the Chernobyl Hassidic dynasty. He lived for many years in Clinton, New Jersey, where he taught at Yeshiva Ner Boruch/Passaic Torah Institute.
Rindenow and his wife, Mindy, lived in San Francisco, where he did Jewish outreach work. They then moved to Israel, before settling in Passaic in 1998. They made aliyah late last year and moved to Safed.
Six of their 10 children made aliyah, including Shlomo, who was killed in an IDF training accident in 2016 at the age of 20.
Rindenow and his wife chose not to bury Shlomo in a military cemetery so that they could be buried alongside him when they died.
After contracting COVID-19 and battling the disease for six weeks, Rindenow died late Thursday night and was buried next to his son in the Netzer Hazani cemetery on Friday.
He was highly regarded among friends, students and those who knew him.
Rindenow’s son, Jeffrey David Tower, described his father as “an incredible man” who “spread love through Torah” who only wanted to help others.
Tower said that his father had saved the lives of many people through his work as a psychologist and in providing support to people in crisis, noting that he and his siblings have been contacted by numerous people telling them as such.
“He helped people in every way, he lived for others and in order to help other people,” said Tower.
“He would be last person to leave the synagogue on Shabbat to ensure that everyone had somewhere to eat on, and would help them find somewhere if they didn’t, including bringing them to our house.”
Tower also related how on year on Passover Seder night Rindenow had accompanied a man to the emergency room to obtain medicine and only returned home to start the Seder at 10:30 p.m.
“When my brother died my father said that ‘The Land of Israel is acquired through suffering,’” a well known statement in the Talmud.
“Now my father has no more suffering and now he is part of the Land of Israel.”
Former Israeli consul in New York Dani Dayan paid tribute to Rindenow, saying the kaddish (mourner’s prayer) the rabbi would recite on Remembrance Day in New York every year since the death of his son would “set hearts trembling.”
“Rest in peace beloved Rabbi Mordechai,” he said.
Ronny Biderman, a friend of Rindenow, described him as “just a wonderful person” who was always looking out for others. “[He was] always making sure everyone was all right and looking for ways to help people... We will miss your smile and always gentle and kind words.”