R’ Yitzchok Kupetz Z”L

August 3, 2023

A Life of Endless Giving

Meir Kass

The world of Torah and philanthropy early this week experienced the loss of a remarkable individual, R’ Yitzchok Kupetz z”l, who devoted his life to uplifting Bais Medrash Govoha. As a leading askan and a close talmid of Rav Shneur Kotler zt”l in Lakewood’s early years, he helped to transform it into the thriving makom Torah it stands as today. His legacy will forever be etched in the hearts of those who knew him, and in the very walls of the institution he cherished.

R’ Yitzchok had an unwavering passion for Torah v’lomdeha and he deeply cherished the Lakewood community, utilizing every resource at his disposal to advance the causes of his beloved kehillah. Over the years, he emerged as a premier, yet exceptionally understated, askan and philanthropist. When Bais Medrash Govoha was in its relative infancy as compared to the giant it is today, R’ Yitzchok recognized its potential and significance and took it upon himself to uphold and support it, making it his life’s work to help establish Lakewood as we know it.

You won’t see his name on buildings and posters, and you’ve likely never heard him give a speech, but R’ Yitzchok was crucial to Lakewood’s growth and ascension to being the premier ir haTorah. Throughout the years of Lakewood’s nascent growth, he was involved with countless thorny issues and troubles that plagued the young kehillah, helping resolve it with conciliation, tireless tenacity, and sacrifice—quietly gaining friends and admirers as he helped pave the way for the community’s contemporary success.

Despite his material success, R’ Yitzchok never allowed his accomplishments to define him or set him apart from others. Perhaps the most extraordinary thing about him was how ordinary and unassuming he was. Known for his humility and genuine warmth, he greeted everyone with a smile and a kind word, leaving an indelible mark on the hearts of those fortunate enough to cross paths with him. Whether interacting with peers or those much younger, he treated everyone with respect and dignity, exemplifying the true essence of a mensch.

Though he never merited to marry, R’ Yitzchok demonstrated an incredible sense of responsibility and care for the community’s youth. For years, he generously sponsored the weekly Avos U’Banim program in the basement of the now-demolished Capitol Hotel. The nachas he had from seeing dozens of children learning exemplified who he was and where his values lied—though he had no children, in those moments those children were his own.

R’ Yitzchok Kupetz’s impact on Bais Medrash Govoha will be felt for eternity. His dedication to the yeshivah, both as a financial supporter and an askan, played an instrumental role in shaping its growth and prominence. Today, the very walls of Bais Medrash Govoha stand as a testament to his unwavering commitment to Torah and his vision of a vibrant center of Jewish learning.

His petirah is a truly profound loss for Lakewood. Yet, the memories and everlasting impact of his generosity, compassion, and dedication to Torah will continue to inspire and guide current and future tomchei Torah and askanim. Although not survived by children, he leaves behind a lasting legacy of kindness, benevolence, and a deep-rooted love for Torah, serving as a role model for all who knew him. His imprint on this world echoes forever in the walls of BMG’s koslei bais medrash and across the town that it built. Listen closely, and you just might hear it.