Spiritual Leader of Congregation Beth Tikvah & Mentor of Yehoshua
לזכר ולעילוי נשמת הבכור המעולה יהושע יהודה בן חיים אלטער ודינה פרידברג
I still glance to my left and see Yehoshua sitting in his Makom Kavuah immersed in prayer. I still sit in our synagogue's Study and Resource Centre dedicated to his memory and I hear Yehoshua's voice expounding the beauty and depth of a particular Torah thought and Jewish perspective. I walk down the street and see a group of friends and I wait to catch a glimpse of Yehoshua and hear his resounding "Shalom". I walk the streets of Jerusalem convinced that I will see that striking and always smiling face of Yehoshua bidding me welcome to his land, Eretz Yisroel.
But alas, I also remember standing at his graveside on Mount Herzel and in a flood of tears watching his young body being laid to rest. Aich Naflu Giborai Yisroel? Is it possible that such a great one has fallen?
I spoke of a Sulam, a ladder, which stood on the ground- V'rosho Magia Hashamaima – with its top reaching the very heavens; V'hinei Malachai Elokin Olim V'Yordim Bo – with angels of G-d going up and down.
In life we search to connect the heavenly and the earthly. How to infuse a spirit of the Almighty here on earth; how to raise our consciousness to catch a bit of the Divine?
From the time there are Malachai Elokim – servants of the Almighty – who through their personal example and unending energies help show us the way. Yehoshua built a ladder which consisted of steps of great acts of chessed, scholarship, love and unparalleled humility. Through his actions and deeds he made possible the merger of the heaven and earth. He found Torah and made it his calling. His concept of Torah was not only abstract learning but practical application which included Aliyah to the land of Israel and enlisting in the army so as to maintain Israel's security.
Whether it was in the Yeshiva, in the university, in the army base or on the basketball court, Yehoshua gave nothing short of total effort to complete the assigned challenge. His effort extended not only for himself but for the entire group. Many a soldier and student made the grade because Yehoshua gave of himself in a most unselfish manner. A devoted son, a loving brother, a loyal friend and a true Ben Torah. There was none finer than our beloved Yehoshua.
The personalities depicted in this volume, "The Making of a Great Jewish Leader" are not remembered for the years which they lived. They are remembered for their deeds and accomplishments and their never ending inspiration. And so, we remember Yehoshua, although much too short in actual years, his life was filled with unlimited qualities of study, mentshlichkeit and heroism. His life from the joyous beginning to the tragic end remains for us a Kiddush Shem Shamayim.
Humbly I declare, Metalmidai Yoter Mekulam – you Yehoshua, my student, you have taught me so much.
Rabbi Dr. Mordecai E. Zeitz