Monsey Memories: Reb Shmuel Wudowsky, Beloved Beis Dovid Rebbi
The phenomenon of Monsey being a bustling metropolis, with congested traffic and countless batei midrashim, is a new one. For decades, the Monsey community was a small enclave—mostly surrounding the legendary Beis Medrash Elyon, and the pioneers of the shtetl were likewise legends who made their home in this serene hamlet.
Reb Shmuel Wudowsky was one of these pioneers, settling down on Monsey’s Orchard Street, where he resided for decades, and served as a beloved Rebbi in Yeshiva Beis Dovid during its early years.
Reb Shmuel was born in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn in the year 1937, at a time when Yiddishkeit in America was very weak. But Shmuel would go on to raise generations of upstanding Torah Yidden and Chassidim.
Tragedy struck when his father, Reb Levi Yitzchok, was niftar only three days following his birth. He was named Shmuel Levi Yitzchok in memory of his father. Thus, looking at his matzeivah, we see the name Shmuel Levi Yitzchok ben Levi Yitzchok. As a bachur, he learned in Yeshivas Rabbeinu Chaim Berlin—and his maternal grandmother was the president of the ladies auxiliary of the yeshiva for many years. There, he forged a special kesher with Rav Yitzchok Hutner, who is seen at his wedding.
Speaking of his matzeivah, it is also inscribed that he had the zechus of being close to the Admorim of Skulen and Klausenberg. About his connection with the Skulener Rebbe, one of the grandchildren relate that early in his days of settling in Monsey, scary-looking neighbors moved into the nearby home, and Reb Shmuel was concerned that the neighborhood would turn unsafe.
He mentioned this to the Skulener Rebbe, Rav Meshulam Zusia Portugal, zt”l, who told him that he doesn’t need to worry. Indeed, the very next working, the neighbors inexplicably left, never to return.
That home would eventually become the Stoliner Shul at 23 Orchard Street for decades until it was purchased by the legendary Rockland Kosher Supermarket, which still stands there today.
Reb Shmuel became a rebbi in Yeshiva Beis Dovid in Monsey as it was being established, and generations of talmidim recall his ehrlichkeit, his yiras Shomayim, and his love for every talmid. Hundreds of Monsey children were zoche to be in Reb Shmuel’s class, never to forget it.
In his later years, he moved back to the Crown Heights of his birth, and there began a new era in his harbotzas Torah, as he taught at Mechon Chanah for ba’alos teshuvah.
He continued in his avodas hakodesh until his passing in the year 5781, leaving behind generations of upstanding Torah descendants and a legacy of yiras Shomayim and harbotzas Torah in Monsey of yore.