It is difficult to think of Reb Don Yoel z”l as not being with us anymore. He was such a vibrant individual, full of energy, whom we were sure would beat this terrible mageifa. We recall Reb Don Yoel as a man who was meticulous in the way he ran the OK, and in the way he organized his life. Every moment was accounted for, whether it be learning, davening, working, or taking care of his well-being.
Our relationship was unique. We both were involved in administering large Kashrus agencies, which created at times conflicting interests, yet, we always agreed that what worked best for Kashrus and Klal Yisroel took preference. On several occasions when speaking with Rabbi Levy z”l, our positions could have been opposed, yet they always were reconciled when recognizing where the greater good of Kashrus In America stood, which is to bring high quality Kashrus to Klal Yisroel.
Perhaps his attitude and approach emanated from his view of what his mission in life was. On numerous occasions he said “The Lubavitcher Rebbe z”tl had told him that Kashrus is his Shlichus”. He took that responsibility very seriously and conducted himself through that prism. He recognized the great importance of his mission and all that was depending on its success. Without a doubt he has brought a greater standard to the world of Kashrus through his integrity and hard work.
Rabbi Levy z”l had a great desire to see achdus among the various Kashrus agencies. To that end, he attended numerous meetings where issues that affected the world of Kashrus were discussed. At those meetings, he offered his opinion and resources to make sure that such goals were achieved. In fact, soon after his passing, we received an email from one of his key employees reminding us of a project that we had begun together with Rabbi Levy to enhance Kashrus, and we were asked to please continue this project as this was so important to the mission of Rabbi Levy’s life.
Rabbi Levy’s petira was a shock to all. Recently we were speaking about how to continue kashrus supervision in this era of COVID-19 pandemic, where access to many facilities is limited. Rabbi Levy’s agenda was how we should maintain the rigorous standards that Kashrus organizations apply in their supervision without compromise. Rabbi Levy battled the mageifa till his last breath, including its threats on the standards of Kashrus. Thereby, fulfilling his mission till the end.
Rabbi Levy z”l was niftar in the days of the Sefira. The days where we prepare for Kabbolas HaTorah, on which the Pasuk says “Vayichan sham yisroel neged hahar” and as Rashi says “Keish echad belev echad.” May we indeed be zoche to achieve the achdus that Rabbi Levy so much wanted, and together we will be able to greet Moshiach Tzidkeinu.
Rabbi Moshe Elefant is the COO of the Orthodox Union Kosher Division and Rabbi Menachem Genack is the CEO of the Orthodox Union Kosher Division