Monsey Memories: Rabbi Moshe Kranzler Remembers Old Haverstraw and Monsey
By Yitzy Fried
Congregation Sons of Jacob was a historic shul, recently closed for good, in the town of Haverstraw. As profiled previously in Rockland Daily regarding the shul, “the synagogue can trace its roots to the turn of the century. It was at Haverstraw that the earliest known Jewish settlement in the county was located. The synagogue for the congregation was dedicated on September 3, 1899.
In 1954, an energetic and dedicated young rabbi came to the synagogue. His name was Rabbi Moshe Kranzler, a brother of the writers and historians Gershon and David Kranzler, and he served as the spiritual leader of Sons of Jacob for fifteen years, after which he moved to Monsey and joined Rabbi Berel Wein’s shul.
Today, we sit down with Rabbi Kranzler—a great storyteller and raconteur— to hear his very own Monsey memories.
“I was born in Germany, where my father had fled from his native Poland, and I came to America as a child. We settled in Williamsburg and later in Boro Park. I went to Yeshiva Torah Vodaath, and Rav Avrohom Pam left a lifelong impression on me.”
From there, he proceeded to Yeshiva Rabbeinu Yitzchok Elchonon and graduated with semicha in 1954. That year, he was called to the pulpit at Sons of Jacob, the oldest Shul in Rockland County. The position at the time evoked great respect from the entire community.
“If there was a parade passing by on Shabbos, they would stop the entire procession out of respect for the rabbi. If a police officer spotted my car, he would stop traffic to ensure that I got where I needed to go,” Rabbi Kranzler recalls.
“Today, Haverstraw is teeming with Jewish families. But in those days, it was very different. Much of my time at Sons of Jacob was spent working to get children to go to Yeshiva and koshering homes. Baruch Hashem, we were successful, and when we left after a decade-and-a-half, the community was very unhappy.
“Bar Mitzvah,” wrote the Journal News sometime during the tenure of Rabbi Kranzler in Haverstraw. “The Sons and Daughters of Jacob of Haverstraw have formed a joint committee to plan a Bar Mitzvah testimonial dinner for their congregational leader, Rabbi Moshe Kranzler. Rabbi Kranzler is completing his 13th year with the congregation. The affair will take place at the Monsey Park Hotel on June 25.”
During his time in Haverstraw, Rabbi Kranzler obtained a doctorate in psychology from Columbia University. He served as a psychologist in the community for fifty years, with twenty-five of them counseling the students at Yeshiva of Spring Valley.
“We moved to the Monsey community in 1968. Monsey at that time was in its infancy, and a group of young families formed a shul together. We called the shul Beth Torah, and we were fortunate
to get Rabbi Berel Wein to lead us—a magnificent tenure that lasted twenty-five years.”
Rabbi Kranzler resided in Monsey until his retirement and his move down to Florida. He will always cherish his days as the spiritual leader of the oldest congregation in Rockland County.