Saturday, May 28, 2022

R Nota Greenblatt - A story

The Tenth Man

Rav Nota’s concern for the chinuch of Jewish children extended well beyond his hometown. Impressed by the success Rav Nota achieved in Memphis, in 1958 Dr. Joseph Kamenetzky of Torah Umesorah asked that Rav Nota work his magic for the community in Kansas City. Although it was home to a large number of Jewish immigrants, it had no Hebrew day school.

Rav Nota arrived in Kansas City at the beginning of the week, ready to give it his all. His first stop was the rabbi. Rav Nota approached him and asked his permission to recruit families for a potential Hebrew Day School. The rabbi looked at him and laughed. “The parents want nothing to do with the old country,” he said. “They want their sons to be American boys, with a proper education.” Rav Nota stood his ground, though, insisting that it was worth a try.

Finally, they came to an agreement. “Get ten families to sign up for the school by Friday, and the school is yours,” the rabbi said. “Anything less than that is not a school.” Rav Nota had one week to recruit ten families in a foreign city to commit to sending their children to a Hebrew day school that did not yet exist. He went from door to door, begging, pleading for the families to send their children. Many laughed at him. Undeterred, he continued, barely eating anything.

By midday Friday, he arrived at the rabbi’s home, famished and exhausted, but triumphant. Waving a sheet of paper at the rabbi’s face he proudly declared, “I have your ten applications!” The rabbi, who didn’t want the school to become reality, turned white. He began going through the list, name by name. Suddenly, he stopped.

“This family, Blumenthal, doesn’t count,” he said fiercely. “They live on the other side of the tracks, in the poor neighborhood; they don’t even have a floor in their home. He doesn’t belong with the other children.”

Rav Nota left broken. He asked his wife if he could be buried with these ten applications when he passed away, to show the Ribbono shel Olam something he did just for Him, with no possible personal gain.

Years later, when Bill Clinton was elected president of the United States, Rav Nota read that one of his cabinet members was a fellow by the name of Blumenthal. After doing some research he determined that this was, in fact, the Blumenthal child that would have attended the Kansas City school had it been allowed to open.

When relating the story, Rav Nota would begin to cry. “You know what potential this child had? From a home with no floor to Clinton’s cabinet? Who knows what a gaon he could have become? But he didn’t have the opportunity. Why?! Because of the rabbi. That rabbi! Even in Gehinnom there’s no place for him.”


  1. The only Blumenthal I could find from the Clinton Administration is Sidney Blumenthal. He was an aide, not a cabinet member. And he's from Chicago, not Kansas. Perhaps it was someone else?

  2. While I am aware that the current Jewish community of the Kansas City Metro area is overwhelmingly in Overland Park, Kansas, at that time it would have been in Kansas City, Missouri.

  3. Okay. But that doesn't address my point.

  4. Is the punchline somehow meant to point to the author of the epstein psak himself?

  5. I think he may have mean tGary Blumenthal:

    He "[grew] up outside of Kansas City" and "[his] career took [him] from Kansas to the Clinton Administration"


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