Warsaw (Mar. 12)
Jewish Telegraphic Agency
Rabbi Meier Yechiel, ascetic and scholar, known as the Ostrovtzer Rebbe, Rabbi of Ostrowiec, one of the most unique figures in Polish Jewry, died yesterday at the age of 74.
Born in Skierniewice, the son of a baker, Rabbi Meir Yechiel established in independent school of ascetic Chassidism, gaining a large number of followers among the Jewish population in Congress Poland. A mathematician and Talmudic scholar of unusual depth, Rabbi Meir Yechiel also ministered to his Chassidic followers by counsel and prayer. He declined, however, to accept remuneration, as is the usage among the Chassidic leaders. A part of his salary which he received as the rabbi of the community, he sent to Palestine for charities there.
Embracing the theory that life on this earth was given, not to be enjoyed, the ascetic scholar took it upon himself when he was thirty to spend his days and nights in study and prayer and to abstain from eating, every day except Saturdays, when it is a religious commandment to eat. For over forty years he continued these six day fasts each week, although physicians warned him against this practice, At night, he went to bed in his clothes in order not to enjoy his sleep.
Although a recognized authority on Jewish law, whose opinion and advice were invoked by the leading rabbis, Rabbi Meir Yechiel was very reticent in his modesty, and although he was the author of numerous works on Talmudic law, the Cabala and Chassidic subjects, he prohibited his friends to publish his works during his lifetime.
Rabbi Meir is survived by a son Ezekel, who is rabbi in Nasielsk, and who will succeed him in his Chassidic post. Thousands of the followers of the Ostrovtzer Rebbe from all parts of Poland came to Ostrowiec to pay tribute to their leader at his funeral which took place yesterday. The scholar had many friends and admirers among non-Jews.
Ten thousand persons, among whom were fifty rabbis, attended the funeral of the Ostrovtzer Robbe at Ostrowiec yesterday.
The board of the Ostrowiec Kehillah voted a life pension to the widow. She will receive 400 Zlotys monthly.
The announcement that the Center Academy is planning expansion of the school with the ultimate aim of developing a high school and college was made by Dr. Tannenbaum, chairman of the Committee on Hebraw and General Edueation of the Brooklyn Jewish Center, under whose auspices the Academy is functioning.
The Center Academy is a school for secular as well as Hebrew instruction.