CHIEF RABBI, HACHAM SHAUL KASSIN 5681 – 5779 / 1921-2018

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In 1999, we took down our old house on Ocean Parkway to build a new home.

 Rabbi Shaul Kassin came to bless our new home. He wrote a kemiafor us, put it in a jar, and placed it inside the foundation after the contractor poured the concrete.

 Here he is (see photo above) with my son Saul Cattan during that day.

 Since then, I have this picture in my office on the mantle behind my desk.

 Ezra Jack Cattan

Approximately 65 years ago, my father was playing in the snow with his friends, and Hacham Shaul saw them and asked them to pick up as much snow as they can carry and follow him. They did not understand why he wanted them to do this, but they still complied. They went inside some kind of basement, placed the snow in an area that looked sort oflike a pool, and kept bringing snow back until it was filled. For many years, it was a mystery what that was all about. When my father got older, and he learned about the laws of taharat hamishpahah, he understood that this snow was brought to make a mikveh, and he realized how much dedication went into this project.

While everyone was trying to earn a living and get settled in the United States, the hacham was worried about maintaining family purity in our holy community.

Rabbi David Shelby of Magen DavidYeshiva

Last year, during Hanukah, 5778, one of my cousins thought it would be a wonderful idea to get our whole family together for a Hanukah party. There was not enough time to plan for it last year, so he put a reminder in his calendar for this year, two months before Hanukah, to start planning.

 This year, when the reminder came, he started preliminary planning for the event, but then he was forced to stop, as he was busy caring for our grandfather, Hacham Shaul Kassin, whose health was deteriorating.Unfortunately, our grandfather did not make it to Hanukkah 5779, and passed away the day before.

 However, our grandfather indeed liked this idea of the family getting together, but not just for one night – but rather ALL eight days. This Hanukah, 5779, our entire family, of (beli ayin hara) almost 300 people, spent the entire holiday of Hanukah together as one big family during our grandfather’s shivaweek.

Saul A. Kassin, grandson of Hacham Shaul

About 10 years ago, I was involved in a car accident thatwas very traumatic for me. I was very shaken up. A friend of mine who is related to Hacham Shaul Kassin called him and told him about the accident. Within minutes, the Hacham was at my door to give me words of comfort, and to teach me a berachahto say toshow my appreciation that I was ok and that everyone was alive.

I thought it was amazing that the Chief Rabbi of our community was able to just come by my house on such short notice to comfort me, someone he didn’t even know, just because his grandchild had asked him to. He also told me to say a berachahwhenever I pass the spot where the accident happened: “Baruch she’asah li ness bamakom hazeh”(“Blessed is He who performed a miracle for me at this place”). The rabbi made me realize that it wasn’t a tragedy, but rather a miracle that everyone was alive and would be fine.

The accident happened on my corner. So, every day, I say the berachahand am thankful for Hacham Shaul Kassin’s encouraging words and kindness. It’s something I’ll never forget.


The success of any country, organization, or community will always come down to their leader. The Jewish People had Moshe Rabbenu when they left Egypt, and the Syrian-American Jewish community had the Kassin family whose devotion to their people was absolute and entirely selfless. They held the community together through their love of the people and their love of Torah. That combination was the formula for success in a country where many Jews have given up their traditions and “melted” into the rest ofthe population.

Wherever the community was, Rabbi Shaul would follow. If they were in Jersey in the summer, he would make sure to be with them. But what was most impressive about him was that he led by example. Everything he did for his people was done with humility and enthusiasm. When he read the “mi sheberach” blessing after the reading of the Torah on Shabbat morning, he would turn around as if to tell all the people in the synagogue that he had each and every one of them in mind. Hopefully, he will continue to pray for us, and we for him.

Leon Beda

On a trip to Eretz Yisrael,Hacham Shaul Kassin went camel riding in Jerusalem with his two older sons. My uncle, thinking he was a cowboy, ran and jumped on the camel. The camel took him up, but then quickly tossed him to the ground, causing him to break his pelvis bone. He required surgery and needed to recuperate for several days in a hospital in Jerusalem.

 After the surgery, when he was brought to recover in a hospital room, and his father sat at his bedside, a lady came over to Hacham Shaul and exclaimed, “Rabbi, please, come bless my son! He has been in a coma for many years, lying in bed without any response.”

 My grandfather walked across the hall to this boy’s bed, gave him a heartfelt berachah, and prayed for his recovery. It was late at night, so Hacham Shaul then went to say good night to his son and told him he would be back in the morning.

 Several minutes after Rabbi Shaul Kassin left the hospital, my uncle heard joyous screaming. The mother then came running to his bed screaming, “Where is the holy rabbi? I need to thank him. After he blessed my son, he just awoke from his coma, that he had been in for many years!”

Saul Abe Kassin, grandson of Hacham Shaul

Hacham Shaul Kassin is the reason why the Sephardic Syrian community in Brooklyn is the strongest and most successful community in the world.

Rabbi Eliyahu Elbaz

Hacham Shaul was a master of keeping peace within our community, like Aharon Hakohen. He keptall the different synagogues and people together. He served Gd and loved all the people in the community, no matter their views.

Rabbi Eli J. Mansour

Growing up, my father taught us many lessons. One very important message he implanted within me is, “Letyour hand be hand, and let your law be law, let your eyes be eyes, and let your no be no.” Meaning, always tell the truth, and never deviate from the truth. He taught us to never, ever take a side, and not to judge people, because we are not qualified to be a judge.

Jakie Kassin (Hacham Shaul’s son)