Goatees on religious Jews are a dying breed. They were once worn by top Rabbis and are now ignored in favor of the full beard. However, one will admit that it looks good. Without further ado, I present the following religious Jews that had pretty awesome looking goatees (kumitz boordin), listed in no particular order but all showing that one can wear a goatee and still be a tremendous Baal Yiras Shamayim.
1. Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik
Rabbi Joseph Dov/Yushe Ber Soloveitchik, a.k.a. “The Rav” needs no introduction. This powerhouse of a Rosh Yeshiva had a strong Brisker upbringing and imparted that to his many thousands of students. In addition, he received a PhD in Kantian philosophy from Freidrich Wilhelm university in Berlin, Germany his PhD thesis being on the epistemology and metaphysics of the German philosopher Hermann Cohen, finalized and received in 1932. In short, he was a genius.
It appears that The Rav wore a goatee well into the 1960s, while teaching his Talmud shiurim in Yiddish, but in 1967 switched to a more traditional beard after sadly losing his wife, mother and brother over a few months. Since mourning in Judaism dictates not cutting ones’ hair, The Rav decided then to keep a full beard once the mourning period was over after more than a year.
In the 1950’s RYBS switched his shiurim to Webster-dictionary style English, upon the advice of a student. According to R’ Abba Bronspigel, one of R’ Soloveitchik’s top students, R’ Aharon Lichtenstein, himself an English major and one of the Rav’s students, frequently needed to reference a dictionary to decipher the Rav’s lectures since the style of English used was directly from the dictionary and not of a common dialect.
2. Rabbi Elie Munk
Rabbi Elie Munk was born in Paris, France and settled in the Boro Park section of Brooklyn, New York later on. Of German/Yekkishe heritage, he received Semicha at the Hildesheimer seminary in Berlin in 1925, served as Rabbi in Bavaria. Originally fooled into believing in Hitler’s ideology of National Socialism (Nazism), Rabbi Munk eventually came to his senses and moved to Paris in 1937, serving as Rabbi of the Adas Yereim Synagogue (a.k.a. the Cadet Street Shul). During the war Rabbi Munk moved to Nice in 1940, then Switzerland in 1942. He returned to the Cadet Street Shul in 1945 as the war ended, serving until his retirement in 1973, by then moving to Boro Park where he lived until his passing in 1981. His six children now live in New York.
Personally, as a New Yorker by birth, I have my questions of him choosing New York of all places as a place to retire, but to each their own, I guess.
This Rabbi Elie Munk is not to be confused with R’ Eli Munk who started Camp Munk.
3. Rabbi Yechiel Aryeh Munk
This Rav Munk is the father of R’ Eli Munk, who began the now-famous Camp Munk in Ferndale, New York. Born in 1905 in Germany, R’ Yechiel Aryeh Munk is credited as being the real “father of Camp Munk” as he passed his Mesorah onto his son who ran it until his own passing.
4. Rabbi Michael Munk
Born in Germany, R’ Michael Munk (1905-1985) founded the Adath Yisrael Synagogue of Hendon in London, and was founding principal of largest Orthodox Jewish school for girls in America. In his book The Wisdom of the Hebrew Alphabet, he revealed the meaning and wisdom behind each of the Hebrew letters.
5. Rabbi Yosef Breuer
Rabbi Yosef Breuer (1882-1980) was a Rabbi in both Germany and the USA. Born in Hungary by R’ Solomon Breuer and Sophie (nee Hirsch), R’ Yosef was lucky enough to have met his grandfather R’ Samson Rephael Hirsch when he was only six years old. His brief encounter with R’ Hirsch left an indelible impression on young R’ Yosef as he strove to model his uncle’s approach to Torah Im Derech Eretz.
As an aside, R’ Moshe Bamberger Shlit”a wrote about him in “Great Jewish Treasures” describing his well-worn pocket-sized Tanach.
6. Rabbi Solomon Breuer
R’ Solomon Breuer (1850-1926) was born in Pupa, Hungary and was R’ Samson Rephael Hirsch’s son-in-law by marriage to R’ Hirsch’s daughter Sophie. R’ Breuer studied in the Pressburg Yeshiva, then headed by the Ksav Sofer, and later on succeeded R’ Hirsch in the 1890’s as the leading proponent of Torah Im Derech Eretz.
7. Prof. Mordechai Breuer
Prof. Mordechai Breuer (1918–2007) was a German-Jewish Historian and writer. He was born in Frankfurt-Am Main to Isaac Breuer and Jenny (nee Eisenman). One of his great-grandfathers was R’ Samson Rephael Hirsch.
8. Rabbi Moshe Heschel
R’ Moshe Heschel was better known as Moshele Good Shabbos in R’ Shlomo Carlebach’s song. A holy man, R’ Heschel made it a point to sing Good Shabbos everywhere, until his singing Good Shabbos while aboard a Nazi-filled train led to the Nazi soldiers identifying him as a Jew and then beating him to death.
As an aside, what’s also interesting is that R’ Shlomo Carlebach ZT”L also came from a long line of German Rabbis (and himself was born in Germany), but that’s for another time.
R’ Moshe Heschel (Moshele Good Shabbos) is not to be mistaken with “Moshele the Shammes” from the Torah from Kiev song by Journeys.
9. Rabbi Meshulam Jungreis
If I only said that he was Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis’ Husband and third cousin, that would be sufficient. Rabbi Theodore Meshulam Halevi Jungreis was born in Hungary, survived the war, and with Esther founded Congregation Ohr Torah in North Woodmere, Long Island. A holy man, he helped Esther start the Hineni kiruv organization where she has inspired both women and men for decades.
10. Rabbi Immanuel Jakobovits
R’ Immanuel/Baron Jakobovits (1921-1999) served as Chief Rabbi of England from 1967 to 1991. Knighted in 1981, he became the first Rabbi to enter the House of Lords in 1988.
11. Rabbi Norman Lamm
Rabbi Norman Lamm (b. 1927) served as President of Yeshiva University from 1976 – saving it from looming bankruptcy – until his retirement in 2013, passing the torch onto Richard Joel. A Torah Vodaas graduate, Rabbi Lamm was valedictorian of YU with a degree in Chemistry, and briefly pursued a Masters degree at Polytech.
Rabbi Lamm authored the controversial work Torah Umadda, which while on the outset purports to show the different varieties of Rabbis all advocating “Torah and Science” but shows a clear agenda to showing how secular studies are Torah and can be studied for it’s own sake. One such example is in partially quoting (Chapter 3 or 4) a Gemara showing that Rabban Gamliel had 1,000 students, 500 studying Torah and 500 studying Greek wisdom (ending it off at that). Being suspicious, I looked up that Gemara years ago and saw the full sentence, stating that ” Rabban Gamliel had 1,000 students, 500 studying Torah and 500 studying Greek wisdom for so that they could be close with the government (mipnei sheKruvo deMalchus).” The Gemara states a clear purpose for studying Greek wisdom, but Rabbi Lamm ignored that last part, an omission that personally bothered me.
12. Rabbi Avraham Eliyahu Kaplan
Avraham Eliyahu (Elya) Kaplan (1890-1924), a Lithuanian Rabbi, was a prominent Orthodox Rabbi despite only living until age 34. Ironically, he was named after his father, who also lived until age 34 and passed away several months before his son was born. R’ Kaplan studied at Telshe, got drawn to the Mussar movement in Kelm, then studied in Slabodka under R’ Nosson Tzvi Finkel. In Slabodka, R’ Avraham Elya tried very hard to reconcile Lithunanian teachings with Chassidic ones, eventually landing a post as a Rosh Yeshiva in the Hildesheimer Rabbinical Seminary in Berlin.
In 1919, R’ Kaplan gave a eulogy in Yiddish to Theodore Herzl, which was eventually translated into Hebrew.
13. Rabbi Shamshon R. Weiss
Rabbi Shamson Raphael Weiss (1911-1990) was born in Emden, Germany, receiving Smicha in 1934 and receiving a PhD in 1938 from the University of Dorpat in Estonia. After teaching at the Jewish Teachers College in Wurzburg, Germany, R’ Weiss taught at some better known American institutions such as Ner Yisroel in Baltimore (1938-1940), Beth Yehuda in Detroit (1940-1944), and Touro College in Manhattan. R’ Weiss also organized Torah Umesorah which works tireless for Jewish day schools, and early on was National Director of NCSY from 1949-1956. Impressive indeed.
14. Rabbi Herbert Goldstein
Herbert Goldstein (1890-1970) was a prominent American Rabbi and educator. To this day, he was the only person elected to president of the OU, RCA, and Synagogue Council of America.
15. Rabbi Shimon Schwab
Rabbi Shimon Schwab (1908-1995) was German born, educated in German and Lithuanian Yeshivas, and served as spiritual leader of KAJ (Khal Adath Jeshurun) in Washington Heights, Manhattan. He succeeded R’ Joseph Breuer as spiritual leader of KAJ, holding it until his passing.
As an aside, all pictures of R’ Schwab online have him in a full beard with a Litvishe garb, but the below picture from “They Called Him Mike” about Mike Tress shows a younger, different-looking R’ Schwab.
16. Rabbi Wolf Fischelberg
R’ Wolf Fischelberg didn’t have a massive goatee, but he gets an honorable mention as he was the brave person to blow the Shofar in the concentration camp from Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis’ story.
17. Rabbi Uziel Milevsky
Born in Uruguay, Rabbi Milevsky ztl received his doctorate in education and his ordination from Ner Israel Rabbinical College. He served as Chief Rabbi of Mexico and was for many years a senior lecturer at Ohr Somayach in Jerusalem. In 1989 he was appointed dean of Ohr Somayach Toronto lecturing to a wide range of audiences in the Metro area. R’ Milevsky ‘s book Ner Uziel – which is his take on the Parsha Hashavua – was published posthumously. Rabbi Milevsky’s Shiurim can be found online through a Google search. Another great resource is here.
18. Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel
Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel (1907-1972) was a Rabbi who received Orthodox Rabbinic ordination before receiving a Doctorate at the University of Berlin. Rabbi Heschel in 1940 joined the faculty of Hebrew Union College (a reform institution), and in 1946 joined JTS (a Conservative seminary), focusing on ethics and Jewish mysticism. Whether or not his own personal outlook was influenced by the institutions he taught in isn’t known. Though he’s clearly pictured without a Kippa, it’s known that German Orthodox Jews at that time didn’t wear the Kippa when not directly engaged in Torah studies, eating or Synagogue worship, the motto being “be a Jew in the home, and a Gentile outside.”
19. Rabbi Raymond Apple
Rabbi Raymond Apple (b. 1935) is the Rabbi Emeritus of the Great Synagogue of Sydney, serving from 1972 until 2005. He was one of Australia’s highest-profile Rabbis in this capacity. He’s also very active for a Rabbi on Facebook.
20. Rabbi Leo Jung
Rabbi Dr. Leo Jung (1892-1987) was one of the foremost Rabbis in America, helping architect Orthodox Judaism at a time when there was next to nothing. Rabbi Jung served in Cleveland and New York, doing everything from teaching Torah to building Mikvehs.
21. Rabbi Haskel Lookstein
Rabbi Haskel Lookstein (b. 1932) served as Rabbi of KAJ for years and is a big Talmid Chacham. He’s also famously known for officiated of Ivanka Trump’s conversion to Judaism. As an aside, I was advised R’ Herschel Schachter also gave his certification so that there would no doubt as to Ivanka’s conversion being Kosher. This was mentioned to me after an incident in June-July 2016 where an Efrat Beit Din not recognizing R’ Lookstein’s conversions, creating a huge brouhaha.
22. Rabbi Max Dienemann
23. Rabbi Sholom Klass
Rabbi Klass ZT”L (1916-2000) was the co-founder, publisher and editor of the Jewish Press for many years. His published “Responsa of Modern Judaism” series, based on Q&A’s from general questioners, remain classics. His son Rabbi Yaakov Klass has since inherited the Q&A section and himself has done a fine job in answering tough Halachic questions in a manner the reader can digest.
24. Rabbi Gershon Gewirtz
25. Csanád Szegedi
How can we forget Csanad Szegedi? This Tzaddik was a former member of the Hungarian political party Jobbik, a neo-Nazi group of skinheads. He blamed the Jews for everything up to killing the dinosaurs, but did a complete one-eighty once he found out his maternal grandmother was Jewish! He has since adopted a religious Jewish lifestyle, and in 2016 made Aliyah, moving to Israel.
26. The bookseller in Munkatch, 1933
I don’t know who this bookseller was, but he appeared in the groundbreaking video of Munkatch life in 1933. He makes the cut.