| For the Record |

Rav Meilech and the Miracle Mets

In appreciation for the generous donation (and with an eye on the potential PR value), Rabbi Silber went to Shea Stadium
Title: Rav Meilech and the Miracle Mets
Location: New York
Document: New York Times
Time: 1969


In 1946, Rav Yitzchok Hutner recommended a young Nuremberg-born talmid named Rav Meilech Silber for the principal position at a small Chaim Berlin offshoot in Crown Heights. Rav Hutner felt that Rav Meilech, the national director of Pirchei Agudath Israel and assistant head counselor at Camp Agudah, was the perfect man for the job.

Under Rav Meilech’s 25 years of stewardship, the nascent school grew into the renowned Yeshiva of Eastern Parkway — a dynamic force in Torah education. By 1965, the 700-student institution encompassed an elementary school, a high school, and a post-high school. When the neighborhood changed, it moved from Crown Heights to East Flatbush.

In November 1968, the yeshivah sustained an arson attack, the worst of several such crimes targeting Jewish institutions within a short period of time. Tragically, seven sifrei Torah were either completely or partially burned, many students lost their tefillin in the blaze, and the yeshivah’s seforim were damaged.

Undeterred, Rav Meilech sprang into action and had the yeshivah functioning in a temporary location. He then launched a campaign with the assistance of the yeshivah’s board and such prominent New Yorkers as Mayor John Lindsay who were disgusted by this act of anti-Semitism. At one meeting, real estate magnate Jerome Belson, a friend of the yeshivah, brought along a fellow named Julius Isaacson, who was acquainted with New York Mets management and made the team’s manager aware of the story, resulting in a $500 donation from the club.

In appreciation for the generous donation (and with an eye on the potential PR value), Rabbi Silber went to Shea Stadium for the Mets’ May 28 contest against the San Diego Padres to relay his gratitude. At a pregame ceremony, he presented the team with an engraved Seder plate. In attendance were the team’s manager, former Brooklyn Dodgers legend Gil Hodges, and the Mets’ Jewish star, Art Shamsky. When presented with the gift, Hodges asked Rav Meilech what the Hebrew words on the plate meant.

Rav Meilech read aloud, “Mah nishtanah halailah hazeh? [Why is this night different from all the other nights?]” He then declared, “This expresses our blessing that the Mets will win tonight!”

On May 28, the Mets’ record stood at 18-23. Commencing with that night’s win, the team won 11 straight games and finished the season with a remarkable 100 victories. The 1969 season is famous as the year of “the Miracle Mets,” which culminated in the team winning the World Series.

A Fitting Honor

Following Rav Meilech’s sudden passing in 1970, the yeshivah was led by his son-in-law Rabbi Yitzchok Stareshefsky and renamed Yeshiva Zichron Meilech. Rav Mottel Weinberg, who had arrived in 1963 as the 12th-grade rebbi with the title of rosh mesivta, oversaw the mesivta and beis medrash. When Rav Weinberg was named rosh yeshivah in Montreal in 1972, Rav Chaim Leib Epstein, a Mir-born leading talmid of Rav Aharon Kotler, replaced him, leading the yeshivah until his 2015 petirah.

A Living Sefer Torah

When the Silber family arrived in the United States as refugees from Germany in 1937, Rav Meilech’s father Reb Yeruchim Silber brought along the family’s treasured sefer Torah. When the customs official began examining it in public view, one man turned to Reb Yeruchim and asked derisively, “Reb Yid, host gebrengt di Torah kein America? [Have you brought the Torah to America?]”

He looked the man straight in the eyes and replied confidently, “Yes, I brought the Torah to America.” Little did he realize how prophetic his words would prove to be.

This same heirloom sefer Torah was later damaged in the yeshivah’s fire, but not destroyed. It now sits in the aron kodesh at Yeshiva Zichron Melech.


Blazing the Trail: The Story of Rabbi Meilech Silber by Rabbi Yaakov Rosenberg (Feldheim) is the newly released biography of the legendary menahel of Yeshiva of Eastern Parkway.


(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 865)

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