Orthodox Union Joins the Chicago Jewish Community and Klal Yisrael in Mourning the Passing of HaRav Gedalia Dov Schwartz, zt”l, a True Leader of American Jewry.

10 Dec 2020

Rav Schwartz led the American Jewish community for over sixty years and the Chicago Jewish community for over thirty, serving as the present Rosh Beth Din of the Chicago Rabbinical Council and as Av Beth Din of Beth Din of America.

He was a universally recognized leader of American Jewry, whose psak halacha and wise counsel were sought by innumerable lay people, community leaders, and rabbis alike.

Rav Schwartz had a breadth and depth of knowledge that spanned centuries of Jewish law, allowing him to draw upon a reservoir of understanding in issuing halachic guidance to tens of thousands and in authoring his three sefarim.

In addition, he was extraordinarily well read and well spoken, serving pulpits in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Boro Park, NY prior to settling in Chicago in 1987. Rav Schwartz was born and raised in Newark, New Jersey, studied at Yeshiva College and was amongst the first American-born students to receive semicha from RIETS and study with Rav Joseph B. Soloveitchik, zt”l.

Later Rav Schwartz became the first second-generation American rabbi to publish an original halakhic work, Divrei Regesh, which received the endorsement of the late Rav Aaron Kotler, zt”l. Throughout his career, Rav Schwartz’s guidance and partnership were sought by the Orthodox Union and NCSY on countless occasions, and he was recognized for his ability to address matters of great complexity with profound insight and tremendous wisdom. He served on the Kashrus commission of the RCA, which worked closely with OU Kosher.

Aside from Rav Schwartz’s encyclopedic knowledge of Torah literature, he was an incredibly compassionate and sensitive person, whose impeccable midos and warm demeanor made him approachable to all. He earned the genuine respect of the entire spectrum of Jewish communal leaders, even of those who differed with him in their religious viewpoint. His illness the past few years presented an enormous physical challenge, which Rav Schwartz accepted with extraordinary grace and dignity. He will be missed deeply by his family, by his Chicago Jewish community, and by all of American and world Jewry.