October 5, 2003 by

Ephraim Oshry


Categories: Religious Leaders

Ephraim Oshry, a rabbi whose family was exterminated during the Holocaust, died on Sept. 28. Cause of death was not released. He was 89.

Oshry was a rabbinical scholar in Lithuania when the Nazis invaded in 1941. During the occupation, he held secret worship services for Jews and guarded a warehouse filled with books for a future exhibit of “artifacts of the extinct Jewish race.”

After the war ended, Oshry used the knowledge he obtained from the exhibit to publish several volumes of religious analysis in which he interpreted Jewish law to answer questions of survival. For example, Oshry determined that even to save his own life, a Jew could not buy a Christian baptism certificate or commit suicide. Two of these volumes won National Jewish Book Awards.

Oshry also set up schools for religious instruction in Rome and Montreal. In 1952, he became rabbi at Beth Hamedrash Hagadol, one of the oldest synagogues in New York City.

5 Responses to Ephraim Oshry

  1. Ricky Oshry

    I have never met Rabbi Oshry, but from reading all the articles he seems like such an incredible person. I wish I had the opportunity to meet him.

  2. Norman Rosner

    Rabbi Oshry was my Rabbi for nine years at Yeshiva Torah V’Emunah in the Bronx. I remember him most for turning a group of silly boys into serious-minded men, including myself. He taught me to honor my parents and Rabbis, to respect all people, to pray as a Jew, to study the Torah, and to commit myself to a life-long journey of learning. Now, thirty-five years later, I can still picture him walking down the hall at YTVE telling me “sha, Nachman” while I talked to my friends between classes.

  3. Jeffrey Moskowitz

    I attended YTVE for 7th and 8th grades – 1962-1964. I remember Rabbi Oshrei z”l because of his thick Yiddish-English accent. When he would scold any of us kids, he would shout “Vy you do dis?”

    • Chaya Prager Tabak

      I remember that exclamation of his! I am a few years younger than you, and was not old enough to appreciate his chochmah and love of his fellow Jew. In addition, we left New York when I was still a child. When I heard the name of the mechaber sefer, Mima’amakim, I became curious about the Rav Oshrei who was the menahel of Judaics, and lo and behold, it is the same man.

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