Akiva Ehrenfeld

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Akiva Ehrenfeld
Rabbi Akiva Ehrenfeld.jpg
Rabbi Ehrenfeld in January 2011
Akiva Ehrenfeld

Mattersdorf, Austria
Died16 August 2012 (aged 88–89)
Jerusalem, Israel
ChildrenYitzchok Yechiel
ParentsRabbi Shmuel Ehrenfeld
Rochel Ehrenfeld
OrganisationKiryat Mattersdorf
BuriedHar HaMenuchot
ResidenceJerusalem, Israel

Akiva Ehrenfeld (Hebrew: עקיבא עהרענפעלד‎) (1923 – 16 August 2012) was an Orthodox Jewish rabbi who helped establish 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 1958[5] 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.[6] He appointed Ehrenfeld as his representative to supervise the construction and sale of apartments. Ehrenfeld sold some of the first apartments in the neighborhood to Rabbi Chaim Pinchas Scheinberg, his family members and students,[7] encouraging Scheinberg to relocate his yeshiva, Torah Ore, to Jerusalem from Bensonhurst, Brooklyn by offering attractive terms for apartments and land for the yeshiva[8] at the southeast end of the neighborhood.[5] Torah Ore opened in Kiryat Mattersdorf in 1971.[9] Ehrenfeld also encouraged other Torah institutions to populate the community.[5]

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

Among the institutions that the Mattersdorfer Rav founded were Talmud Torah Maaneh Simcha; Yeshiva Maaneh Simcha; two synagogues named Heichal Shmuel, one for nusach Ashkenaz and one for nusach Sefard; and the Neveh Simcha nursing home, named after his father.[1][10] The outermost street in the neighborhood is named Maaneh Simcha after his father's Torah work.

Akiva Ehrenfeld moved to Kiryat Mattersdorf in the early 1990s and served as president of all these institutions. Akiva Ehrenfeld also founded Yeshivas Beis Shmuel, named for his father, in the mid-1980s.[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.[11][12]

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 the Rav of the neighborhood.[1][5]

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" (PDF). Burgenländische Volkshochschulen. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2007-07-07. Retrieved 2010-03-07.
  5. ^ a b c d Vilner, Rabbi H. (20 March 2015), "אחת במקום שבע" [One in Place of Seven], Shabbos Kodesh (in Hebrew), Yated Ne'eman, pp. 20–24
  6. ^ "Destroyed Jewish Community: Mattersdorf (Part 1)". Burgenland-bunch.org. 20 February 2011. Archived from the original on 23 April 2012. Retrieved 4 October 2012.
  7. ^ Shain, Ruchoma (2001). 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.
  8. ^ Shulman, Eliezer (16 April 2008). "Rav Scheinberg's Living Legacy". Mishpacha. Retrieved 6 March 2010.[permanent dead link]
  9. ^ Margolis, Nechamie. A Living Sefer Torah: Rabbi Chaim Pinchas Scheinberg, shlita. Hamodia Magazine, 28 April 2011, pp. 13–18.
  10. ^ "Neveh Simcha homepage". Archived from the original on 2002-06-04. Retrieved 8 November 2010.
  11. ^ Engel, Reinhard (5 February 1995). "Jerusalem rabbi visits Austria 'to create a bridge' to Vienna". Jewish Telegraphic Agency. Archived from the original on 3 November 2012. Retrieved 4 October 2012. (subscription required)
  12. ^ 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.