Oct 28, 2015
Rabbi Milton H. Polin, rabbi emeritus of Brooklyn's prestigious Kingsway Jewish Center
and a past president of the Rabbinical Council of America
, was one of the foremost rabbinic personalities in the United States before moving to Israel in 1998.
At his ordination 60 years ago, his teachers characterized him as "a gifted young scholar who will inspire a profound reverence for Torah Judaism." More recently he was paid tribute by the United States House of Representatives for being "a man highly esteemed and respected by Jews and Christians whose lives have been touched by the numerous good works and kind deeds of this outstanding spiritual and civic leader."
Upon arriving in Israel, he was immediately asked to deliver occasional sermons and teach regular shiurim in two of the neighborhood synagogues. Eretz Hemdah, a post-graduate institute for ordained rabbis who have served in Israel's Defense Forces to prepare them for positions as rabbinical court judges and city rabbis, has asked him to join a very select group of rabbis who answer questions on Halakhah and other Jewish topics that Eretz Hemdah receives from communities and individuals around the world. Similarly, the Biur Halacha Institute, a division of Yeshivat Merkaz HaRav, has also invited him to edit some of the late Chief Rabbi Abraham I. Kook's commentaries to the Talmud.
As an outgrowth of his weekly Rambam shiur, Mosad Harav Kook
has published three volumes of his Sefer Hamitzpeh al Harambam on Hilkhot Talmud Torah
, Hilkhot K’riat Sh’ma
and Hilkhot Mamrim
, as well as a scholarly study on the Rambam which Mosad Harav Kook published on the occasion of the 800th yahrzeit of the Rambam. He also serves on the Board of Directors of Mosad Harav Kook.
Recently, Rabbi Polin was appointed to the Council of Consulting Rabbis and Torah Scholars of the Root and Branch Association, a group that disseminates information about the universal message of Judaism and the Seven Noachide Laws to inquiring non-Jews.
During a quarter century in Brooklyn, his rabbinic leadership transformed his congregation into a pulsating center of Torah learning and communal activity for hundreds of young, highly educated, religiously observant families. He taught a variety of classes for men and women of all ages and backgrounds in his synagogue. In addition, the Greater New York UJA-Federation
recently recognized his congregation's outstanding outreach program for New American families and awarded it a significant Continuity Commission grant. Upon his retirement the congregation published a Festschrift
in his honor that included scholarly articles from some of the leading rabbis and Jewish scholars.
As president of the Rabbinical Council of America, the largest and most influential Orthodox rabbinical body in the world, he participated actively in the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations and continues to maintain regular contact with the Chief Rabbis and government leaders in Israel.
Active in the larger community in many capacities, several years ago Rabbi Polin was invited to join the Orthodox Caucus, the foremost Orthodox think tank in North America, and on the Board of Directors of the Beth Din of America
. He continues to serve as a Trustee of the International Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture
and attends its biennial meetings.
A lifelong Religious Zionist, Rabbi Polin was a national Vice President of the Religious Zionists of America after previously serving as President of that organization's Greater New York Council. He is a member of the Rabbinic Advisory Council of the Jewish National Fund.
In the several communities in which he has served in the course of his rabbinic career, Rabbi Polin has built a Mikveh, an Eruv, and two synagogues. His interest in Kashruth and responsibility for communal supervision long predated his chairmanship of the Rabbinic Kashruth Commission, the halakhic authority for the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America Kashruth Division. Most recently he served as a Chairman of the Kashruth Committee of the Vaad Harabbanim of Flatbush.
Before leaving Brooklyn, Rabbi Polin served two terms as president of the Vaad Harabbanim of Flatbush and chaired its Jubilee Anniversary celebration. He participated actively on the Board of Education of the Yeshivah of Flatbush for many years.
With his wife Shainee, he was sent to the Soviet Union almost four decades ago when Jews were not allowed to leave. They have shared their experiences, insights, and concerns for Soviet Jews in several forums. It was this experience that sensitized them to the special needs of today's New American families.
Rabbi Polin requested retirement from his congregation on January 1, 1998. Before coming to Brooklyn, Rabbi Polin held pulpits in St. Louis, MO, Louisville, KY, and Cheyenne, WY. In each community he played a vital leadership role and has received many honors and awards.
An eloquent speaker and acclaimed scholar, Rabbi Polin has been frequently invited as a guest speaker and scholar-in-residence. His sermons have appeared annually in the Rabbinical Council of America Sermon Anthology.
Yeshiva University then-President Dr. Norman Lamm characterized his sermons as "enlightening" and "creative". His scholarly articles have been published in such journals as Judaism, Tradition,
and The Hebrew Theological College Journal.
Several of his halakhic studies on Maimonides' Code have been published in Hadarom.
Born in Chicago, IL, Rabbi Polin studied at the Hebrew Theological College (Beth Midrash l'Torah) in his native city from which he received his semikhah
and Bachelor of Hebrew Literature degree cum laude.
At his ordination he was awarded a prize for his Hebrew essay, "Rabbi Joseph Albo and the Debate at Tortosa, 1413-14". He also holds a Master of Arts degree in Education from the University of Chicago.
Rabbi Polin is listed in Who's Who in World Jewry, Who's Who in Israel and Jewish Personalities All Over the World,
and Who's Who in Religion.
He is married to the former Shainee Sachs. They have five children, all married, twenty-two grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. Their oldest daughter passed away, but three of their surviving children live in Israel and one in Chicago. Most of their grandchildren are Sabras.
He is married to Shainee, nee Sachs. They have five children, all married, and twenty grandchildren. Three of their children live in Israel, and eleven of their grandchildren are sabras.