Akiva Ehrenfeld

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Rabbi Akiva Ehrenfeld
Rabbi Akiva Ehrenfeld.jpg
Rabbi Ehrenfeld in January 2011
Position President
Organisation Kiryat Mattersdorf
Personal details
Birth name Akiva Ehrenfeld
Born 1923
Mattersdorf, Austria
Died 16 August 2012 (age 89)
Jerusalem, Israel
Buried Har HaMenuchot
Denomination Haredi
Residence Jerusalem, Israel
Parents Rabbi Shmuel Ehrenfeld
Rochel Ehrenfeld
Children Yitzchok Yechiel

Akiva Ehrenfeld (Hebrew: עקיבא עהרענפעלד‎) (1923 – 16 August 2012) was an Orthodox Jewish rabbi who established the Kiryat Mattersdorf and Unsdorf neighborhoods of northern Jerusalem.[1] He served as president of Kiryat Mattersdorf and president of the Chasan Sofer Institutions in the United States.[2]


He was born in Mattersdorf, Austria to Rabbi Shmuel Ehrenfeld, then rosh yeshiva of the Mattersdorf yeshiva, and Rochel Ehrenfeld. His parents were first cousins.[3] He was named after his parents' ancestor, Rabbi Akiva Eger.[2] Akiva's great-grandfather, Rabbi Shmuel Ehrenfeld (the Chasan Sofer), was the eldest grandson of the Chasam Sofer. At the time of his birth, his grandfather, Rabbi Simcha Bunim Ehrenfeld, was the Rav of the city; upon his death in 1926, Rabbi Shmuel Ehrenfeld succeeded him as Rav.[3] Akiva had a younger brother, Simcha Bunim, and five sisters.[1][3]

The family fled Austria in 1938 with the Anschluss.[4] They arrived in New York on September 13, 1938. Two months later, Akiva's father established Yeshivas Chasan Sofer on the Lower East Side.[3]

Akiva studied in Yeshiva Torah Vodaas and later joined his father's yeshiva, Yeshivas Chasan Sofer.[2] In 1954 he married the daughter of Rabbi Chaim Tzvi Krieger, formerly Rav of Brussels, Belgium. The couple had one son and five daughters.[1]

Establishing Kiryat Mattersdorf[edit]

Western entrance to Kiryat Mattersdorf.

In 1959 the Mattersdorfer Rav founded the Haredi community of Kiryat Mattersdorf in northern Jerusalem in memory of the Siebengemeinden (Seven Communities) of Burgenland, Austria, which were destroyed in the Holocaust, Mattersdorf being one of them.[5] Ehrenfeld acted as his representative in supervising the construction and sale of apartments. He sold the first apartments in the neighborhood to Rabbi Chaim Pinchas Scheinberg, his family members and students,[6] encouraging Scheinberg to relocate his yeshiva, Torah Ore, to Jerusalem from Bensonhurst, Brooklyn by offering attractive terms for apartments and land for the yeshiva.[7] Torah Ore opened in Kiryat Mattersdorf in 1971.[8]

Neveh Simcha nursing home, which serves the Haredi public of northern Jerusalem.

Among the institutions that Ehrenfeld set up were Talmud Torah Maaneh Simcha; Yeshiva Maaneh Simcha; Yeshivas Beis Shmuel (named for his father, who died in 1980); two synagogues named Heichal Shmuel, one for nusach Ashkenaz and one for nusach Sefard; and the Neveh Simcha nursing home, named after his grandfather.[1][9] Ehrenfeld moved to Kiryat Mattersdorf in the early 1990s and served as president of all these institutions.[1] He established close ties with the government of Austria to obtain funding for several institutions, including a kindergarten and the Neveh Simcha nursing home. Following an official state visit to Israel by Austrian President Thomas Klestil in 1994, which included a side tour of Kiryat Mattersdorf, Klestil hosted Ehrenfeld at an official reception at the Hofburg Palace in Vienna on January 24, 1995.[10][11]

Ehrenfeld declined to serve as the neighborhood's Rav. Instead, he acted as president of Kiryat Mattersdorf while his only son, Rabbi Yitzchok Yechiel Ehrenfeld, became a Rav of the neighborhood.[1]

Death and burial[edit]

Ehrenfeld underwent surgery for an abdominal obstruction on July 16, 2012 (Tisha B'Av) but did not recover. He died on August 16, 2012 at Shaare Zedek Medical Center and was buried that night on Har HaMenuchot[1] near the grave of his father.[2]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h "Harav Akiva Ehrenfeld, zt"l". Hamodia Israel News, 23 August 2012, p. A14.
  2. ^ a b c d Sever, Yechiel (23 August 2012). "NEWS: HaRav Akiva Ehrenfeld zt"l". Dei'ah VeDibur. Retrieved 4 October 2012. 
  3. ^ a b c d Cohen, Yitzchok. "The Mattersdorfer Rav". Hamodia Magazine, 28 May 2009, pp. 6–8.
  4. ^ "Mattersdorf/Mattersburg". Burgenländische Volkshochschulen. Retrieved 2010-03-07. 
  5. ^ "Destroyed Jewish Community: Mattersdorf (Part 1)". Burgenland-bunch.org. 20 February 2011. Retrieved 4 October 2012. 
  6. ^ Shain, Ruchoma (2001 expanded edition). All For the Boss: The Life and Impact of R' Yaakov Yosef Herman, a Torah Pioneer in America: An Affectionate Family Chronicle. Feldheim Publishers. pp. 407–408. ISBN 1583304703.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  7. ^ Shulman, Eliezer (16 April 2008). "Rav Scheinberg's Living Legacy". Mishpacha. Retrieved 6 March 2010. 
  8. ^ Margolis, Nechamie. A Living Sefer Torah: Rabbi Chaim Pinchas Scheinberg, shlita. Hamodia Magazine, 28 April 2011, pp. 13–18.
  9. ^ "Neveh Simcha homepage". Retrieved 8 November 2010. 
  10. ^ Engel, Reinhard (5 February 1995). "Jerusalem rabbi visits Austria 'to create a bridge' to Vienna". Jewish Telegraphic Agency. Retrieved 4 October 2012.  (subscription required)
  11. ^ Klestil, Thomas (2005). Thomas Klestil--der Verantwortung verpflichtet: Ansprachen und Vorträge 1992–2004 [Thomas Klestil Undertakes the Responsibility: Speeches and lectures, 1992–2004] (in German). Verlag Österreich. p. 315. ISBN 3704647578.