Marrying a Soloveitchik

Mazaltov! My nephew, Gedaliah Kestenbaum married Devori Soloveitchik in Jerusalem last week.

Gedaliah has married into rabbinical aristocracy.   

Devori is the daughter of  Rabbi Yitzchak Zev Soloveitchik, and the grand-daughter of Rabbi Meshulam Dovid (Reb Dovid) Soloveitchik, who is Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivat Brisk (one of the two) in Jerusalem.

The Soloveitchik's are a rabbinical dynasty descended from Rabbi Yosef Dov (HaLevi) Soloveitchik (The "Beis Halevi") and his son Rabbi Chaim Soloveitchik ("Reb Chaim Brisker").

Rav Chaim's sons Rabbi Yitzchak Zev (Reb Velvel) Soloveitchik ("The GRIZ" The Brisker Rov) and Rabbi Moshe Soloveitchik seem to have gone in different hashkafik directions. Whereas Reb Velvel's descendents are predominantly right wing hareidim, Rav Moshe's branch are leaders in the Modern Orthodox/National Religious hashkafa – most notably Rav Joseph Ber Soloveitchik ("The Rav") and Rav Aaron Soloveichik.

Rav Aharon's youngest son Rav Chaim Soloveichik is my rav, here in Ramat Beit Shemesh.   

(So all this makes me a very distant relative of my rav!).

Devori is also the grand-daughter of Rabbi Boruch Dov Povarski, a Rosh Yeshiva at Ponevezh Yeshiva in Bnei Braq.
The star-studded wedding was attended by Litvish gedolim, including Rav Moshe Sternbuch, (the head of the Eida Charedis - pictured here), Rav Avraham Gurewitz (Rosh Yeshiva of Gateshead)  and Rabbi Zvi Kushelevsky, (head of the Heichal HaTorah BeTzion Yeshiva).

I thoroughly enjoyed the festivities including Shabbat 7-Brachot in the Brisk Yeshiva.

The Soloveitchik side were remarkably high spirited (actually the Povarski's), including setting the tone at the Shabbat meals by standing on their chairs, clapping enthusiastically and leading the singing.

All proceedings and speeches were in Yiddish, and my nephews helped me out with simultaneous translation/explanation.

The Soloveitchiks are well known for their halachik stringencies (some of which they consider a family minhag, and do not impose upon others).

Here's a few I spotted during the proceedings:

1. The Soloveitchik's sport 'bushy' peot. (Accentuated sidelocks, which are generally associated with hasidim - but which the Soloveitchik's grow outwards, rather than downwards);
2. I saw some removing their tzitziot (four cornered undergarment with fringes) on shabbat, before heading from the yeshiva to the street. This is based on a double whammy - the Soloveichiks don't hold by eruvim, and they hold that the tziztiot are not a beged - so they can't 'carry' tzitziot in the rishut harabim/public areas.
3. Kriat Shema in the Brisk Yeshiva Beis Medrash was begun with elongated first sentence (perhaps lasting one minute) including previously unheard (by me) sounds for the various vowels and consonants; the rest of the shema was meticulously recited, lasting several times the 'regular' length.
4. Hechsherim - only bedatz eida chareidis was acceptable. (In one family sheva brachos a bottle of soda with, woops, another mehadrin hechsher, was placed on the table and was rejected).
5. The chupa had no microphone/loud speakers - due to concerns of people saying amen to an electronically relayed bracha.
6. The music at the wedding consisted of solely vocals and a drum-set. This is due to remembering the churban beit hamikdash. This is a minhag yerushalaim, but I never recall having seen it before.
7. The chicken - we had been informed that the Soloveitchiks shecht their own chickens, rather than rely on others. Imagine the disappointment when the sole option on the wedding menu was beef...

My father in law Rav Ephraim Kestenbaum (pictured above, with Reb Dovid Soloveitchik and Rabbi Povarski), zeide/grandfather of the groom, was given kavod, sitting alongside the luminaries on the top table, at the dancing and throughout the proceedings.

However, overall I guess the Kestenbaum side were somewhat in the role of the Middletons at the Prince William wedding. (I was fine with that!)

This is borne out by the photos in "Kol HaOlam Kulo" (above) which seems to have been edited to show the top table at the wedding, bereft of any sight or mention of Kestenbaums!

Mazaltov to the young couple, Gedaliah and Devori Kestenbaum (yeh!!) – wishing you every mazal and bracha and many many years of happiness and success!!  


  1. your family should have a lot of nachas from the young couple!

  2. Mazal tov, may future photos show complete reality.

  3. I am sure there was one set of eidim throughout the process, including eidei badekin and kiddushin and kesuba and yichud...i bet the same 2 guys)

  4. Wow! The Soloveitchiks are truly meyuchasim - they are now related to David Morris!

    1. Excellent comment "Anonymous"; I heartily agree!

  5. So incredibly weird to see wedding pictures with no Bride or Groom.


  7. Thanks Kevin - the Frum Follies article is an excellent satire on an important topic.

  8. David - you sure the Rabbi Avraham Gurewitz was from Gateshead? There's another Rosh Yeshiva in Yerushalayim with the same name.

  9. Hi Anonymous - re Rav Gurewitz.

    Thanks for bringing that to my attention.

    I understand there was Rav Avraham Gurewitz there, and I know that Gedaliah studied in Gateshead. I put two and two together.
    I accept this logic may be faulted, and perhaps it was the Rav Gorewitz from Jerusalem - given the location of the wedding in Jerusalem, it would make more sense!

  10. Rabbi Avraham Gurwitz is first cousin once removed of Gedaliah's mother, and Rabbi Tzvi Kushelevsky is her uncle. Gedaliah's mother is the grand-daughter of the late Rabbi Elya Kushelevsky who was Av Bet Din of Beer Sheva and brother of Reb Leib Gurwitz and close relative of the Chazon Ish. Gedaliah comes from an extremely meyuchasdik family on his mother's side, hence invei hagefen, the shidduch was no at all random.

  11. Ravenscroft neighbour16 September 2013 at 07:50

    Don't feel that your side is lacking in yichus, your father in law was a rov in the USA before he came to England, and his father was a powerhouse in Jewish community affairs and a pillar of Torah Vodaas when it was one of the few centers of Torah study. Your mother-in-law was from choshuve rabbonishe mishpachos, Chief Rabbi lerner and Rabbi Horowitz of Frankfurt Matteh Levy and so forth..... You have nothing to be ashamed of


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