Rav Yitzchok Zilber. His Life.
A brief posthumous biography of Rav Yitzchok Zilber.
Rav Yitzchok Zilber, native of Kazan, Russia descends from a distinguished family of rabbanim.
Rav Zilber was born months before the Russian Revolution in 1917. His father refused to allow him to attend the local anti-religious school and instead taught him at home.
By the time he was 15, Rav Zilber was giving shiurim throughout the city, despite the fact that it was against the law. His brilliance helped him gain admittance to university, where he trained as a mathematics professor.
After World War II, Rav Zilber was imprisoned in Stalin's gulag, where despite the inhumane conditions, he managed with great mesiras nefesh to remain Shomer Shabbos.
After he was released, he went back to Kazan. There he refused to let his children go to school on Shabbos, and the KGB wanted to take his children away from him. He fled to Tashkent and, in 1972, made aliya. By then, he had completed Shas several times. Even his son Ben Zion, today a co-director of "Toldos Yeshurun", was able to learn half of Shas by heart while growing up under Soviet persecution.
Once in Eretz Yisroel, Rav Zilber was shocked at what he found - people everywhere were being mechalel Shabbos. He recalled how when he first arrived in Yerushalayim, there wasn't a single Russian immigrant who kept Shabbos.
He worked to reverse this trend by reaching out to the local Russian population. There were times on Friday night when his wife couldn't put her candles on the table because up until a few minutes before Shabbos, Rav Zilber was performing bris milas there.
Rav Zilber was also moser nefesh to help Russian women receive gittin. He went to great lengths, searching for missing husbands all over the world.
In the year 2000, Rav Zilber founded the "Toldos Yeshurun" organization, which continues his work by bringing the Jews of Russian origin closer to Torah and mitzvos.
His funeral is to begin at 11pm today, 9th of Av, from the Ezras Torah synagogue, which Rav Zilber attended during his last 32 years.