History of the Kollel Yad Shaul, Johannesburg.
The Adas Yeshurun Kehilla in Johannesburg was one of the only, if not the only, community in South Africa where all members remained strictly adherent to Torah Yiddishkeit.
The Mara Deasra, Rav Yaakov Salzer ZTL, felt that there was a need for a group of Talmidei Chachamim learning full-time , a Kollel type of set-up, to foster more structured Torah learning. (A separate summary of the history of the Adas Yeshurun is posted on this site aswell.)
R’ Yitzchok (Ivan) Ziskind, who had davened at the Adas, was by then a qualified architect, pursuing Town Planning studies in the UK. The newly married Ziskind couple were ‘fortuitously’ living in Gateshead, which R’ Yitzchak describes as a turn of events which reflected ‘’much chesed from Hashem and His breathtaking ‘Hashgacha Pratis‘’ . He thus met Rav Mordechai Shakovitzky ZTL in Gateshead and learned with him, while pursuing his studies in architecture and town planning.
Soon Reb Tzvi Lieberman went overseas to recruit avreichim for the kollel. He was enthusiastic about the entire concept and convinced Rabbi Mordechai Shakovitzky to come to South Africa to become the Rosh Kollel. (Rabbi Shakovitzky was the son of the late Gateshead Rov).
Rav Shakoviztsy came to South Africa with a group of five Avreichim to start the Kollel, in 1971. The Bacher family kindly gave the use of a property to the Kollel to start their program in the suburb of Observatory- hence the name Kollel Yad Shaul, after their late father. Later on the Kollel moved to Yeoville, which was then the more densely populated area and again later on it had to relocate to the northern suburbs as a result of demographic changes.
Reb Tzvi Lieberman was always a key background figure in his quiet way. The Kollel took up the baton from the group which had learned at the Adas regularly . Rabbi Kurtstag, Rabbi Kabalkin the shochet of the congregation and a number of litvishe balebatim who had studied at an advanced level in Lithuanian yeshivas before coming to South Africa participated. Rabbi Mordechai Korn had been brought out from England to teach in the Adass cheder and he then also began learning on a fulltime basis.
The avreichim were Rabbi Ahron Pollack, Reb Avraham Hassan and Reb Eliezer Crysler, and Reb Mordechai Korn. Rabbi Mordechai Fachler ZTL and Rabbi Chaimi Shein also joined, amongst others. Each of these avreichim made a unique and major contribution over the years.
Harav Mordechai ben HaGaon Naphtaly Shakovitzky Hakohen was born in Kovna. He came to South Africa for just under eight years. Not only did he lead the Kollel and its associated community with keen insight, he also had a keen sense of humour and an infectious smile and warmth for all. He and his Rebbetsen, aswell as the entire core of the community, importantly including a tremendous input from the Adas Yeshurun, extended hachnosas orchim which was exemplary and certainly played an important part in their widespread influence on the local scene.
The Kollel planted seeds which sprouted in various forms – most of the other main Torah communities largely owe their existence or real growth to the impetus given by the Kollel Yad Shaul.
Rav Shakovitsky then took up the position of Rov of Arzei Habira in Yerushalyim, where he also founded a Kollel (Pischei Teshuva) and served at Ohr Someach part –time as well.
Rav Boruch Dov Grossnass shlita took over and very ably leads the Kollel at present, with new Avreichim welcomed into the community, helping them to settle in and also caring for the spiritual needs of the general working community which centres around the Kollel. He participates in various vaadim related to mosdos such as the educational system. An additional (third) property was acquired by the Kollel just recently, in 5775/2015, with plans for expansion in the pipelines.
Link to a hesped at the first Yahrtseit of the first Rosh Kollel :