esomim hayinu v’en av.” He may have been a master educator who impacted the lives of thousands of students, —-- as principal of Yeshiva of Flatbush elementary school and founding principal of Magen David Yeshiva High School (as well as other schools).— but to us he was simply, Abba.
Rabbi Avraham Moshe Kahana was born in the old yishuv of Yerushalayim Shel Maalah, the scion of two families well known as bastions of chesed and chinuch: The Eisenbach family of Yerushalayim and the Kahana family of Tzfas. He grew up under the British Mandate, educated in Yeshivas Eitz Chaim basking in the glow of Torah luminaries such as Rav Isser Zalman Meltzer, Rav Yechiel Michel Tukachinsky and Rav Aryeh Levin ztz”l. In fact, when the Kahanas moved to Detroit in the United States, he promised Rav Aryeh that he would never play ball in America, a promise he kept throughout his entire life (which he often said was, at times, quite difficult). After attending Yeshiva Torah Vodaath and a “new” yeshivah in Lakewood, New Jersey known as Beth Medrash Govoha, Abba joined the fledgling group of talmidim in Beis Medrash Elyon in Monsey, New York. Under the guidance of his rebbeim, Rav Yaakov Kamenetsky ztz"l and Rav Gedalia Schorr ztz”l, that Abba developed the passion for chinuch that became his lifelong mission.
Abba was a powerhouse in the world of Jewish education who had thousands of talmidim and talmidos over the years. Entire books could be written on his career in chinuch and during the short shivah we heard from hundreds of students, all of whom shared their stories with us: “Rabbi Kahana was the only one who believed in me,” and “I am who I am today because of him.” Some of them grew up to be businessmen and professionals, while others followed in Abba’s footsteps and became mechanchim. He loved each and every one of his students as if they were his own children, bringing to life the words “kol hamelamed es ben chaveiro Torah ke’ilu yelado.”
Throughout the years, Abba was able to accomplish all that he did because of Ima, the loyal eishes chayil who stood by his side and who was an accomplished educator in her own right as a special education supervisor with the NYC Board of Education. Their home was open to students, and more than one former student had their chuppah in our living room. Relatives from Eretz Yisrael who came to America, often stayed for weeks as honored guests. As children, in an era where self-driving cars were the stuff of science fiction, we used to joke that the Kahana car had a button that would automatically drive the car to Kennedy (17 minutes) and LaGuardia (13 minutes) airports because we spent so much time driving there picking up friends and family. Abba had a heart of gold; the word “no” was not in his lexicon; he would bend over backward to do another Yid a favor.
Our parents were married for 61 years, and the respect and admiration they showed each other throughout their lives has always been an inspiration to us all. It was with tears that we mourned the loss of our mother, Tzipora Feigel (Florence) bas Yitzchak Elchanan nee Kwalwasser shortly after Chanukah. Who could have imagined that less than three months later Abba would join Ima for a truly Heavenly Seder? We take comfort in the fact that our parents were zocheh to see doros yesharim of children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, each of whom were their pride and joy. In fact, our parents had so much nachas from the generations they produced that Abba used to bentsh people “you should get as much nachas from your kids as I get from mine.”
Yehi zichrom baruch... tnzb"h.
The family requests of anyone who has memories, pictures or stories to please email the family at email@example.com
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