Remembering Rabbi Chaim Goldzweig zt”l A Kashrus Pioneer

By Mrs. Gavriella Bachrach


On Monday evening, July 16, approximately 500 people gathered in the Agudath Israel of West Rogers Park in Chicago for a Zikaron Memorial Service for Rabbi Chaim Tzvi Goldzweig zt”l, a revered Rabbi in Chicago for over 50 years who pioneered kosher supervision in America. The event was co-sponsored by Agudath Israel of Illinois, Chicago Rabbinical Council (cRc), and Telshe Yeshiva of Chicago.

Speaking at the program were Rabbi Sidney Glenner, Master of Ceremonies and a close friend and congregant at Tiferes Moshe, Rabbi Goldzweig’s shul, Rabbi Shmuel Fuerst, Dayan of Agudath Israel of Illinois, Rabbi Sholem Yehudah Fishbane, cRc Kashrus Administrator, Rabbi Shmuel Efraim Schmelczer, Rebbe and Mashgiach in Telshe Chicago, Rav Ephraim Nisenbaum, son-in-law of Rabbi Goldzweig, and Rabbi Kenny Hollander, Gabbai at Tiferes Moshe. Included in the audience were Rebbetzin Goldzweig and the Goldzweig children and grandchildren.

Rabbi Goldzweig, known to many as the Father of Kashrus in America, is legendary both for his pioneering work developing kashrus supervision, and for his unique character traits. The speakers spoke about Rabbi Goldzweig’s relationship with Hashem and with his fellow man, and the special way he intertwined these values in all his interactions.

Rabbi Goldzweig, a native Chicagoan, studied in Telshe Yeshiva Cleveland for many years, after which he was hired by Rabbi Alexander S. Rosenberg to be the Orthodox Union’s field representative. He traveled throughout the United States and around the world doing hashgacha. In those days before personal computers, Rabbi Goldzweig was renowned as a walking, talking, kosher database, carrying mass information in his head, and in his pockets. At a time when many considered a food item kosher by simply reviewing the ingredient panel, Rabbi Goldzweig’s insight and industrial knowledge allowed kashrus agencies and consumers, who called him consistently, to understand more sophisticated, and nuanced, considerations.

“It’s amazing to see what one person can accomplish,” said Rabbi Fishbane. Rabbi Goldzweig was blessed with incredible Siyata Dishmaya, Divine assistance, in every project he undertook. He would walk into an industrial plant, for example, and notice things other people overlooked.

Everything Rabbi Goldzweig did was in service to his Creator; he was genuine. When one does a task lishmah, altruistically, he is blessed with Siyata Dishmaya, Rabbi Fishbane explained, quoting HaRav Avraham Shur.

“Rav Goldzweig had a specific mission to improve the kedusha in Klal Yisroel and assure that everything that went into our mouths was pure and kosher to the highest standards,” said Rabbi Sidney Glenner. “He never let any difficulty stand in his way of promoting higher standards of kashrus in America.”

He often negated his own needs to help others and the Klal. Rabbi Goldzweig would regularly leave his home to supervise food production on Sunday afternoon and only return on Thursday night. Even when he was back in Chicago, he maintained a busy schedule. The cRc scheduled their Kashrus Commission meetings on Thursday nights to allow their beloved member, Rabbi Goldzweig, to attend.

In an interview after the Zikaron, Rabbi Benjamin Shandalov, former Kashruth Administrator of the cRc, noted that the only condition he requested before accepting the position was that he have access to Rabbi Goldzweig. Every motzaei Shabbos Rabbi Shandalov went to Rabbi Goldzweig’s home and consulted with him for about two or three hours, asking questions about ingredients, kashrus symbols, and situations that came up. The only interruptions were from tzedakah collectors, and calls with kashrus questions coming in from England, France, and Canada.

Rabbi Goldzweig taught Rabbi Shandalov how to carefully inspect production plants, analyze labels, and what questions to ask plant managers. Rabbi Goldzweig never rushed an inspection to make another appointment.

“His bottom line was kashrus,” said Rabbi Shandalov.

“Our community, in Chicago, America and throughout the world, is forever grateful for Rabbi Goldzweig’s contributions, the rigorous standard he set for kashrus, and the emunah and tzidkus that he modeled,” said Rabbi Levi Mostofsky, cRc Executive Director.

Rabbi Goldzweig’s emunah and bitachon, faith and belief, were so strong, and his closeness to Hashem was awe inspiring, said Rabbi Fuerst.  

Rabbi Goldzweig also had emunas chachamim, trust in Torah sages, said Rabbi Schmelczer. It was Rabbi Goldzweig’s father, Rav Moshe Gershon zt”l, known for his righteousness, who advised him to go into the kashrus field and who chose Rabbi Goldzweig’s wife for him.

It is thanks to Rebbetzin Goldzweig, Rabbi Goldzweig’s backbone, who took care of their children and home, that Rabbi Goldzweig was able to serve Klal Yisroel, pointed out Rabbi Fuerst.

In addition to serving Hashem lishmah, Rabbi Goldzweig served Hashem with a ne’imus, a sweetness, said Rabbi Schmelczer, who feels that this quality is another essential ingredient to Rabbi Goldzweig’s success. He brought sweetness to his family, community and to the commercial office world.

“He was loved by everyone, including the toughest plant manager,” said Rabbi Fishbane.

All types of Jews, from Chasidim to modern-Orthodox Jews, accepted Rabbi Goldzweig’s word. People turned to him not just for kashrus questions, but for advice. He had a listening ear and a strong sense of humor. His heart and wallet were open to all; he gave tzedakah like a wealthy man. Rabbi Goldzweig was not only the Rav of Tiferes Moshe, but he was also its candy man.

When it came to helping people, there was nothing that was beneath Rabbi Goldzweig. Rabbi Nisenbaum recounted a story of a fifteen-year-old girl calling the Goldzweig home with a kashrus question. When Rabbi Goldzweig returned her call and found out that she had gone shopping, he paged her in the store. “This is Chaim Goldzweig,” he said, when she picked up. “You had a kashrus question.”

In the summer, Rabbi Goldzweig took his children and their friends with him when he traveled to different cities, said Rabbi Nisenbaum. Some of the friends were children of educators and some were orphans. Sometimes it was the only opportunity these friends had to go on a vacation.

The Goldzweig home was open to everyone. Countless numbers of people consider themselves part of their family.

Rabbi Goldzweig loved to learn and as he did with everything he had, he shared that love with others, said Rabbi Nisenbaum. When he bought a new sefer, he would not just buy it for himself, he bought a few copies to give to others.

“He was called by many names, Reb Chaim, Rabbi Goldzweig, The Chief, The Boss, and many others,” said Rabbi Hollander. “The name most people called him was just plain Chaim. It was always said with love, honor, and respect. He was everybody’s Rav and everybody’s best friend. He was never insulted because someone called him Chaim. He rather liked it.”      

Because he went about his mission in life in a way that was beloved to others, “Rabbi Goldzweig” is a name that has become synonymous with dedication and love for our Creator and for our fellow man.

Yehi Zichro Baruch.



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