Rabbi Chaim Kreiswirth (1918-2001) זצוק"ל was an Orthodox rabbi who served as the longtime Chief Rabbi of Congregation Machzikei Hadass Antwerp, Belgium. He was the founder and rosh yeshiva of the Mercaz HaTorah yeshiva in Jerusalem, and was a highly regarded Torah scholar.
Rabbi Kreiswirth was born in Wojnicz, Poland in 1918, the son of Rabbi Avrohom Yosef Schermann and Perla Kreiswirth. In his youth, he was well known for his brilliance, excellent character traits and geniality, dubbed the "Cracower Illui" at age 15 in recognition of his prodigious powers of Talmudic analysis.
Rabbi Kreiswirth studied for many years in the famous Torah centers of Poland and Lithuania. Upon application the Rabbi Chachmei Lublin Yeshiva, he was tested by the Rosh Yeshiva, Rabbi Meir Shapiro. Rabbi Shapiro was impressed by Rabbi Kreiswirth's proficiency in all aspects of Torah. Rabbi Chaim Ozer Grodzinski was very fond of him and gave his sefer on Tractate Zevachim a warm recommendation (the manuscript was lost during the World War II).
Rabbi Kreiswirth received Semicha from Rabbi Chanoch Henich Eigess.
Second World War
With the 1939 German invasion of Poland, Rabbi Kreiswirth fled to Lithuania.
In Lithuania, he married the daughter of the Rabbi Slabodka Mashgiach, Rabbi Avraham Grodzinski. The couple then left via Vilna to Palestine, where he met many famous personalities, including the Brisker Rav, the Chazon Ish, the Steipler, Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Auerbach and Rabbi Yosef Sholom Eliashiv.
Post-World War II
At the end of World War II, Rabbi Kreiswirth returned to Poland in an attempt to rescue Jewish children who had been sheltered by the Catholic Church for the war's duration.
Thousands of people came from all over Europe to participate in the funeral in Antwerp. Among the eulogizers were Dayan Yitzchok Tuvia Weiss and Dayan Elya Sternbuch of Antwerp. The main funeral and burial was held in Jerusalem, where, among many, Rabbi Nosson Tzvi Finkel and Rabbi Kreiswirth's son Rabbi Dov Kreiswirth of Lakewood gave eulogies.