Rabbi Mordechai Adelman: A Lifelong Impact
Updated: Aug 23, 2022
Rabbi Mordechai Adelman, raised in Denver, Colorado, attended and graduated from the Skokie Yeshiva in 1969. After graduating high school, Mordechai went to Israel for yeshiva, deciding to eventually stay there. After marrying his wife in the states, the two made Aliyah, eventually settling in Bayit Vegan. Over the years, Rabbi Adelman has held various positions in Israel such as teaching in Aish HaTorah for several years and running a girl’s seminary in Bayit Vegan. Today, Rabbi Adelman learns with people privately, studying Torah one-on-one for work. He enjoys working with people while appreciating the opportunity he has to learn and teach.
Coming from out of town, Rabbi Adelman credits his time at Skokie to his father, who was a Rabbi in Denver. “My father A”H died in my second year of high school,” he said. “Years before that, he had sent boys to the Yeshiva from Denver. So, he knew about it, and he thought it was a good place for me. The school had good people and good Rabbis. You made friendships and connections and it created the Skokie experience, especially with dormitory life. Every year is different, and, in my year, we had one of the largest classes in the history of the Yeshiva. In the year 1969, I believe we had 69 fellows in the class. Majority had come from Arie Crown and there were some boys who came from the South Side. It was almost like we had different lives because the out-of-town boys were so connected to dormitory life, but we had some common denominators like our classes during the day and where we sat for lunch.” For Mordechai, the bonds he made with his fellow students were one of the pillars of his Skokie experience, and he is still in touch with many of them to this day.
Aside for the connections he made with his fellow students, the Rebbeim at Skokie also contributed to the positive experience. “Rav Moshe Wernick, the mashgiach, had a big influence on me and I really connected with him,” he said. “Another Rabbi I connected with was Rav Yaakov Perlow. He became very big. After he left, he was the head of Breuers in Washington Heights, so he was able to be mesader kedushin at my wedding in New York when I got married. I actually stayed in his shiur for a second year, even though I wasn’t supposed to, because I wanted to have him again.”
For Rabbi Adelman, the four years spent at FYHS provided lots of meaningful experiences, some which had only resurfaced years later. “Years ago,” he said, “Hamodia put out a very interesting article about certain Chassidim who do a traditional dance called the ‘Rebbe Elimelech dance.’ They had a whole article about it, along with a picture of the Bubover Rebbe dancing. They didn’t say where the picture was from, they just said he was doing that dance. I recognized that the picture was taken in the dining room of Skokie Yeshiva,” he said excitedly. “It’s amazing; I had noticed myself in the background picture! Thinking back, I remembered that the Veitzner Rav, who was a posek for questions in the concentration camps, had come to Chicago. Eventually, his first daughter was getting married, and he needed a place to marry her off. He had rented the Skokie dining room for the wedding! The Bubover Rebbe had come and was the mesader kedushin. That picture of him dancing was taken at Skokie, and I was there for it since I was in high school at that time!”
In looking back on how FYHS influenced his life long-term, Mordechai reported some ways you might expect and, in some cases, some ways that may surprise you. “I made my sisters shidduch from Skokie,” he exclaimed. “I was 16 at the time. Even though the high school dormitory was upstairs, I had a very strong connection with the guys downstairs in the college. That is how I met my brother-in-law!” On a smaller scale, Mordechai’s time in high school also influenced the way he thinks long-term. “My time at FYHS definitely left an impression on me,” he said. “Your formulation of ideas is developed in those years through your surroundings. I had a strong positive experience, and it was very influential.”