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Rabbi Jacob Kamenecki also known as Rabbi Yaakov Kamenetsky (February 28, 1891-March 10, 1986), was a prominent rosh yeshiva, posek and Talmudist in the post-World War II American Jewish community.

He was born in the hamlet of Kalushkove, Lithuania, in 1891. Shortly afterwards his family moved to the village of Dolhinov where he grew up. He studied in Minsk and then for 21 years in Slabodka yeshiva under Rabbi Nosson Tzvi Finkel. It was there that he met his lifelong friend Rabbi Aharon Kotler, who would go on to found the Lakewood yeshiva. His younger cousin, Rabbi Yaakov Yitzchak Ruderman, also grew up in Dolhinov.

While studying in Slabodka, Rabbi Kamenecki decided he wanted to spend a period in the Kelm Talmud Torah, famous for its focus on task and ability to avoid distraction. However, he knew that if he asked Rabbi Finkel directly he would be refused. Therefore, one day he took a round-about path to the outhouse instead of the direct one he always used. Rabbi Finkel called him over and sent him to Kelm to learn discipline. [1]

Rabbi Kamenecki was appointed rabbi of Tzitavyan in 1926 and moved to North America in 1937, where he initially took rabbinical positions in Seattle and then Toronto. From 1948 to 1968 he headed Mesivta Torah Vodaath in Brooklyn, New York. Along with Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, he led American Jewry in issues of halachic and spiritual guidance until 1986, when both men died.

Rabbi Kamenecki was renowned as "Chakima D'Yehudai", the wise man of the Jews. Aside from his extensive Torah scholarship, he was known for his ever-present warm smile and his expertise in Hebrew grammar. Today, his son Rabbi Shmuel Kamenetsky is considered by many to be among the Gedolei HaDor, the greatest rabbis in America. His other sons are: Rabbis Binyamin (1923-), Avraham, and Nathan Kamenetsky. His oldest daughter, Malka (1921-), was married to the late Rabbi Yisrael Shurin (d. 2007).[2] A second daughter, Rivka, is married to Rabbi Hirsch Diskind, the Dean Emeritus of Bais Yaakov of Baltimore. Dozens of his descendants serve in key leadership positions across North America and in Israel.


  • Emes leYaakov ("Truth to Jacob") - a multi-volume work with insightful commentary on the Torah and Talmud, including grammatical observations on the Hebrew of the Bible (dikduk).
  • Iyunim BaMikra - a commentary on Chumash


Rosenblum, Yonason (1993). Reb Yaakov. Brooklyn, NY: Mesorah Publications. ISBN 0-89906-413-2.  

  1. ^ Heard from Rabbi Kamenecki's son-in-law.
  2. ^ Bio of R' Yisroel Shurin, Reprinted from Ya'ated Neeman, 2007

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