Many referred to Rabbi Yehuda Kelemer zt”l as the Rabbi’s Rabbi, but this title does no justice to the overwhelming impact that he had upon anyone he encountered. It wasn’t charisma, and it certainly wasn’t hip coolness; it was the rarest blend of mastery of every facet of Torah, exquisite sensitivity, and how a God-fearing individual must consistently conduct themselves.

Anyone who required assistance, whether it was requested or not (usually the latter) was blessed by Rabbi Kelemer taking them under his wing, making them feel honorable and important. The Rabbi had a very liberal nigh incomprehensible interpretation of assistance. With never a thought for his personal comfort or dignity, no obstacle could prevent his treasured and cherished uplifting intervention.

Because of his Torah scholarship recognized by the world’s most prominent roshei yeshivah, dynamic leadership, and extraordinary care for everyone, the Young Israel of West Hempstead where he was the Mara D’asra swelled to a membership of 750 families. Young and old, disaffected youth, ardent secularists and yeshivah graduates revered Rabbi Kelemer and lovingly heeded his counsel.


The stories in this precious volume (so many stories!) surpass whatever has been written about a communal leader before. Only the golden pen of the best-selling King of the Storytellers, Hanoch Teller, could so vibrantly and heartfeltly capture the novum in Jewish history of an adam gadol, the product of the finest yeshivos, leading a vibrant and expanding Modern Orthodox community.

ISBN 9781881939283
Author Dr. Stuart Apfel, Hanoch Teller
Number of pages 280
Binding type Hard Cover

Additional information

Weight2 lbs
Dimensions6 × 9 in


1 review for If Not Higher

  1. Chaim Feldman (verified owner)

    Although I have yet to read the book, I already rated it 5 stars, as bh, I have gotten to know Rabbi Kelemer ztl the last few years of his life, and I just know the book will be good.

    When I was younger, I was desperately looking for a rav to have a kesher with. When Rabbi Kelemer got hit by a car, the whole Jewish world was davening for him and said how great he was. During the early stages of his recuperation, he needed to talk through a typewriter machine, where he typed to his mispalleilim that Hashem should be mochel the driver who hit him, and caused him to be sick and weak.

    From that moment on, I knew he would be my rav and posek.

    Rabbi Kelemer ztl was a true anav who was rodef Shalom, ohev Shalom, ohev et hamakom, ohev et habriyos. He would act very confused and upset when people referred him as “the rav”, insisting that he be referred to “you”, just like anyone else.

    He amazingly made himself available to every single yid at all hours, even at 3am, whether it was kashering ovens, answering complex shailos, saving friendships, serving as posek, and much more.

    For many years, he made the waiting room in Penn Station his office, despite the disturbance of the homeless. He would spend the whole day there answering phone calls, writing letters, and even saying tehillim for others. Despite my telling him that there were plenty of nice hotel lobbies in Manhattan where he’d be more comfortable, he was concerned that even a slight movement would distrupt his cell phone reception, making people unable to reach him.

    He sacrificed his own comfort for klal Yisrael, where many feel a daily void.

    All those should read this book on who he was – you won’t regret it!

    Yehi zechro baruch.

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