Rabbi Aaron Rakeffet, Founding Board Member of Shvut Ami
Rabbi Dr. Aaron Rakeffet-Rothkoff is Professor of Rabbinic Literature at Yeshiva University’s Caroline and Joseph S. Gruss Institute in Jerusalem. He is a noted scholar, author and teacher who has taught thousands of students throughout his over 55+ years of teaching. He spent four years studying under Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik and remained very close to him afterwards.
Rabbi Rakeffet started his career in 1961 as a pulpit rabbi at Lower Merion Synagogue in Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania. In 1962, he became the spiritual leader of the first Orthodox synagogue in suburban Essex County, Congregation Beth Ephraim of Maplewood and South Orange, New Jersey. During that time, he also served as a high school Rebbe at Yeshiva University High School for Boys. In 1969, he moved to Israel and worked as a Staff Editor for the Encyclopedia Judaica. He also wrote numerous entries, including the one for Rabbi Joseph Dov Soloveitchik and Rabbi Eliezer Silver.
Upon the conclusion of the Encyclopedia Judaica project, Rabbi Rakeffet pursued his love of teaching and he was a pioneer in Torah education for diaspora students in Israel. He was a member of the initial 1969 faculty of Jerusalem Torah College (BMT) and taught there for twenty years. He also taught at Machon Gold and Michlalah. He was also a founding faculty member at Midreshet Moriah, an advanced Torah study program for women.
In 1980, he was recruited by Aryeh Kroll to join the Mossad’s clandestine “Nativ” operation to teach Torah in the Soviet Union. Rabbi Rakeffet visited the Soviet Union in 1981, 1985, and 1989 together with his wife Malkah, and recruited 200 others to also visit. His initial visit motivated him to become one of the founding Board Members of Shvut Ami.
Rabbi Rakeffet finished his 10-year effort of writing his personal scholarly memoir, “From Washington Avenue to Washington Street”, with its publication in 2011. It was his seventh published volume.
In June 2016, Rakafot Aharon Vol 3 was published by Shvut Ami based on contemporary Halachic topics presented by Rabbi Rakeffet between 1998 – 2002 in his advanced shiurim given at YU’s Gruss Kollel. The topics include: The classic Agunah, Mamzerut and Artificial Insemination. Shvut Ami plans to publish Volume 4 in the near future.
Shvut Ami is very grateful to Rabbi Rakeffet for the countless hours that he has spent travelling, lecturing and raising awareness & funding for our critical work for over 30 years!