Petira Of Rabbi Shalom Rivkin ZATZAL – Last ‘Chief Rabbi’ Of An American City


YWN regrets to inform you of the Petira this past Motzai Shabbos of Horav Sholom Rivkin zt”l – Chief Rabbi Emeritus of St. Louis Missouri.

Rabbi Rivkin was the son of Horav Moshe Dovber Rivkin zt”l, beloved Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshiva  Mesivta Torah Vodaath. A levaya was held last night at Young Israel in St. Louis and will be held this afternoon at 3:30 pm (Monday) at Torah Vodaath in Brooklyn. The niftar will be taken to Eretz Yisroel where there will be a levaya at the Shamgar Funeral Home in Yerushalayim at 6:30 pm on Tuesday evening. The Kevura will be on Har Hazaysim near the kevarim his parents and late wife, Rebbetzin Pepi (Zuckerman) Rivkin a”h who passed away this past winter.

Rabbi Rivkin learned in Torah Vodaath and Bais Medrash Elyon and was a close talmid of Harav Shlomo Heiman zt”l and Harav Reuven Grozovsky zt”l. In 1949, with the encouragement of the sixth Lubavticher Rebbe, Harav Yosef Yitzchok Schneerson zt”l, Rabbi Rivkin became the Rav in the Nusach Ha’Ari shul in St. Louis, MO. He later served as Rov in the Bikur Cholim shul in Seattle, and Young Israel of Bayswater, NY and also served on the Bais Din of the Rabbinical Council of America.

In 1982, he assumed the position of Chief Rabbi of St. Louis and Av Bais Din of the Vaad Ho’eir (OV) where he oversaw the Kashrus and other Halachic matters in the city. He was a renowned expert in Hilchos Gittin and other areas of Halacha. He was known for his tremendous Ahavas Yisroel and care and concern for Yidden of all backgrounds.

He is survived by a son, Rabbi Bentizon Rivkin, and a daughter Yocheved Rubin. May he be a mailitz yosher for his mishpacha, the various communities that he served, and all of Klal Yisroel.

Boruch Dayan Emmes…


  1. No American city has ever had a “chief rabbi”. Having a “chief rabbi” requires a government that recognizes religious bureaucracies, and requires having a recognized “chief” to deal with. That was banned by the US constitution (on a federal level in 1791, and by most states soon thereafter)

    If you mean “most prominent rabbi”, perhaps. But considering that with the possible exception of Baltimore City (and not counting Lakewood as a city), no American city has a frum majority – if there were chief rabbis in American, they would never be Orthodox.

  2. As is usually the case akuperma has no idea what s(he) is talking about. The FACT is that Rabbi Rivkin z’l, like Rabbi Eichenstein z’l before him, as well as other two or three chashuv Rabbonim going back into the late 1800s, were indeed Chief Rabbi of the United Orthodox Jewish Community of St Louis.

    But hey, why confuse the issue with facts on the ground?

  3. #3

    The St. Louis Jewish Community Mourns the Death
    of the Chief Rabbi of St. Louis, Rabbi Sholom Rivkin

    Barry Rosenberg, Jewish Federation President and CEO, issued the following statement: The St. Louis Jewish community and Jewish people have lost a treasure. As a renowned Torah scholar and it’s Chief Rabbi, Rabbi Rivkin helped shape the growth and increasing vitality of the St. Louis Orthodox community, which is home to numerous vibrant > congregations, Jewish day schools, Kollels, educational organizations and a leading Kashruth supervisory agency. At the same time, Rabbi Rivkin and his late Rebbitzin, Paula, reached out to touch and embrace the larger Jewish community, building bridges of understanding and cooperation that have enriched us all. This gentle, humble man will be greatly missed. The Jewish Federation expresses its condolences to the family and entire Orthodox community.”

    For more about Rabbi Rivkin visit the St. Louis Jewish Light,, or Yeshiva World News

    May Rabbi Rivkin’s memory be a blessing to all who knew him and
    all who were touched by his life of service.

  4. akuperma – you are quite wrong – once upon a time there were dozens of chief rabbis in america – in fact Reb lazer Silver was the chief rabbi of America. Before R Rifkin, St Louis has a chief rabbi named Eichenstein who served for 44 yrs and before him was Rav zecharia Yosef. Also Rav Yakov Yosef was the chief rabbi of New York

  5. akuperma, a friend of mine was a rabbi (Conservative) in Las Vegas in the mid 1970’s. It was just before the Jewish population there exploded. At the time there was one synagogue in Reno and two in Las Vegas. After he had been in Vegas for a coupkle of years and had done some terrific work there, the Governor made him the “Chief Rabbi of Nevada” with a ceremony,etc. So, if what you say is true it was unconstitutional, but it happened.

  6. There is no set definition to Chief Rabbi of a city or state, and in MOST cases, never was. There are rare exceptions, such as the state rabbis in some European countries (e.g., Rabbi Sacks in England).

    The most famous American Chief Rabbi was Rabbi Yaakov Yoseph, Chief Rabbi of the City of New York, in the late 1800s. The city did not appoint him chief rabbi. It was a confederation of the shuls of Eastern European background.

    So, too, in years gone by in EUrope, the chief rabbi of the city was usually simply the rabbi appointed to head the main shul of the city.

    Please check your opinions for fact.

  7. Its always amazing that libs like #3 suddenly become a mavin on the US Constitution when it works for them (he was still wrong here!) but otherwise they DESPISE the document.

  8. “Montreal presently has a chief rabbi, Dayan YB Weiss shlita”
    BTW Montreal is in Canada, and Montreal has traditionally been led by a “Rav Rashi – רב ראשי”
    Unfortunately, Americans and indeed many other communities have lost the musag of a Chief Rabbi or Mara D’Asra who is Rov of all the communities of a city.