Mordechai Willig

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Mordechai Willig
Born (1947-04-25) April 25, 1947 (age 72)
Nationality United States of America
SynagogueYoung Israel of Riverdale
PositionRosh Yeshiva
PositionDeputy Av Beis Din
OrganizationBeth Din of America
ResidenceRiverdale, New York

Mordechai Willig (born April 25, 1947) is an Orthodox rabbi and rosh yeshiva at Yeshiva University in Washington Heights, Manhattan. He is often known to his students as the Ramu (רמ"ו), which is the transliteration of the acronym of the Hebrew letters Reish, Mem, and Vav, which spell out the first letters of Rav Willig's name (Rabbi Mordechai Willig = רב מרדכי וויליג).


Born in New York City, Willig graduated from Rabbi Jacob Joseph School and received a B.A. in mathematics in 1968 from Yeshiva College and an M.S. in Jewish history in 1971 from the Bernard Revel Graduate School of Jewish Studies. He was a student of the late Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik.

Professional life[edit]

In 1973, Rabbi Willig was appointed as rosh yeshiva at the Mazer School of Talmudic studies at Yeshiva University and holds that position, along with the position of rosh kollel at RIETS.

Rabbi Willig has been the rabbi and spiritual leader at the Young Israel of Riverdale Synagogue, in Riverdale, The Bronx, New York, since 1974.

During the summer, Rav Willig is the Rosh Kollel of the college Morasha Kollel.

Rabbi Willig is also the deputy av beis din of the Beth Din of America, the court of the Rabbinical Council of America. He co-authored the Rabbinical Council of America's prenuptial agreement.[1] with Rabbi Zalman Nechemia Goldberg.


Rabbi Willig is the author of a sefer entitled Am Mordechai, which came out in three volumes (1992 on Brachot, 2005 on Shabbat and 2010 on Seder Moed).

Lanner case[edit]

In 1989, Rabbi Willig led a Bet Din that heard allegations of abuse by Rabbi Baruch Lanner.[2] The Bet Din found Lanner guilty of only three minor charges and found three other charges to be unsubstantiated.[3] The Bet Din read their determination to the litigants, to the Rabbinical Council of Bergen County, and to Lanner's two employers, the Orthodox Union and a synagogue in New Milford, New Jersey.[3]

On February 19, 2003, Rabbi Willig publicly apologized for reaching what he eventually realized to be incorrect conclusions and for other "mistakes" made during the 1989 Bet Din proceedings. He noted that since the Bet Din did not have experience adjudicating matters of abuse, they should not have agreed to take the case.[3][4] A report prepared in 2000 by a special commission appointed to investigate the Orthodox Union and Rabbi Willig's Bet Din role in the Lanner case critiqued the failure of taking action and thus allowing Lanner's abusive actions to "continue unchecked for many years."[5]


Rabbi Willig resides with his wife in Riverdale, New York, New York. They have nine children and over 50 grandchildren. Four of his children live in Israel, teaching at various Yeshivos, among them Yeshivat Torat Shraga in Jerusalem and Yeshivat Reishit Yerushalayim in Beit Shemesh.

He is the first cousin of Rabbi Avi Weiss, who is the former senior Rabbi of the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale. Rabbis Weiss and Willig are both part of the Vaad of Riverdale.


  1. ^ Rabbinical Council of America, May 30, 2006: "RCA Reaffirms its Commitment to Preventing Agunah Tragedies". Retrieved 4/3/2012
  2. ^ Smothers, Ronald (October 12, 2002). "Rabbi Convicted of Sexual Abuse Is Freed on Bail Pending Appeal". The New York Times. Retrieved 2007-12-09.
  3. ^ a b c "Willig Apology". Retrieved 2007-12-21.
  4. ^ Cattan, Nacha (February 28, 2003). "Top Rabbi Admits Errors In Handling Lanner Case". The Forward. Retrieved 2009-06-03.
  5. ^ "Critics Charge Rabbinic Court Covered Up Lanner Abuse". The Forward. Retrieved 2016-01-11.

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