Obituary: Rabbi Yehuda Zeev Segal

Yehuda Zeev Segal, rabbi, born London 1910, died Manchester 13 February 1993.

THE YESHIVA, the Talmudic college, is the powerhouse of the ultra-Orthodok Jewish community, and the Talmud its beloved and constant object. With its amazing collection of disputations about Jewish laws and customs, the Talmud, its admirers say, provides an inexhaustible storehouse for mental stimulation.

A yeshiva is made famous by its head, known as 'rosh'. An inspiring figure can create an intense fellowship who for the rest of their lives speak of their yeshiva with even greater pride than is customary among alumni of Oxford, Cambridge and Yale. Such a rosh yeshiva was Yehuda Zeev Segal, whose sudden death in Manchester threw the ultra-Orthodox community into mourning.

Unusually for a charismatic ultra-Orthodox rabbinic teacher and leader, Rabbi Segal was born in Britain. Eastern Europe rather than the British Isles has been the birthplace of great Talmudic scholars. London and provincial communities have had to rely on East European rabbis to lead and inspire them. British products have traditionally been seen as too 'cold' to be inspiring by the ultra-Orthodox groups.

However Segal was accepted as the worthy son of a remarkable spiritual leader, Rabbi Moshe Yizchok Segal, who became head of Manchester Yeshiva two years after it was founded. By studying at renowned yeshivot in Eastern Europe such as Mir, and meeting several of the great figures of modern Orthodox Judaism such as Chofetz Chaim, he acquired a deserved reputation for profound learning and humility. He remarked once that Chofetz Chaim was like an angelic figure sent down from heaven to save the soul of the present-day generations.

After marriage Segal settled in Gateshead, a fortress of ultra-Orthodox Judaism, with its own highly regarded yeshiva. In the early 1940s he returned to Manchester where he at first became involved with the yeshiva in an honorary capacity. With the death of his father in 1948, Segal became increasingly attached to the yeshiva, leading Talmudic groups in shiurim (study) and a year later was appointed Rosh Yeshiva.

A man of great kindness and an unusual ability to listen to the woes of his students and members of the Manchester communities, Segal attracted many followers. His face with its long white beard, often smiling, was described as that of a tsadik (saintly figure). Even in his eighties he still taught and gave discourses with enthusiasm and vigour. Though he must have been aware of the veneration in which he was held, he never lost his modesty. He was never seen without a learned book holding the traditional belief that even the greatest scholar must never cease studying. Through his learning and piety as well by his example of kindness, understanding of those who suffered, and charitable outlook, Segal became a focal figure not only in Manchester but in Britain and world Orthodox Judaism.

Thousands of mourners joined the funeral procession, the largest in Britain for a rabbi within living memory. The assistance of the police had to be sought to control the crowds, as they listened to the hespedim (funeral orations).

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Ashdown Group: HR Assistant (Events business) - Central Manchester - £20K

£18000 - £20000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Assistant (Events busi...

Recruitment Genius: Project Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This privately-owned company designs and manuf...

Recruitment Genius: Human Resources Officer

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen at th...

Ashdown Group: HR Manager - London - £40,000 + Bonus

£36000 - £40000 per annum + Bonus: Ashdown Group: HR Manager (Generalist) -Old...

Day In a Page

Where the spooks get their coffee fix: The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive

The secret CIA Starbucks

The coffee shop is deep inside the agency's forested Virginia compound
Revealed: How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Loch Ness Monster 'sighting'

How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Nessie 'sighting'

The Natural History Museum's chief scientist was dismissed for declaring he had found the monster
One million Britons using food banks, according to Trussell Trust

One million Britons using food banks

Huge surge in number of families dependent on emergency food aid
Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths 2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths trove
The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey, 25 years on

The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on

The space telescope was seen as a costly flop on its first release
Did Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

Did Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

A document seen by The Independent shows that a week after he resigned from the Lords he sold 350,000 shares in an American company - netting him $11.2m
Apple's ethnic emojis are being used to make racist comments on social media

Ethnic emojis used in racist comments

They were intended to promote harmony, but have achieved the opposite
Sir Kenneth Branagh interview: 'My bones are in the theatre'

Sir Kenneth Branagh: 'My bones are in the theatre'

The actor-turned-director’s new company will stage five plays from October – including works by Shakespeare and John Osborne
The sloth is now the face (and furry body) of three big advertising campaigns

The sloth is the face of three ad campaigns

Priya Elan discovers why slow and sleepy wins the race for brands in need of a new image
How to run a restaurant: As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food

How to run a restaurant

As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food
Record Store Day: Remembering an era when buying and selling discs were labours of love

Record Store Day: The vinyl countdown

For Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Usher, Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert as part of the Global Poverty Project

Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert

The concert in Washington is part of the Global Citizen project, which aims to encourage young people to donate to charity
10 best tote bags

Accessorise with a stylish shopper this spring: 10 best tote bags

We find carriers with room for all your essentials (and a bit more)
Paul Scholes column: I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England

Paul Scholes column

I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England
Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

The heptathlete has gone from the toast of the nation to being a sleep-deprived mum - but she’s ready to compete again. She just doesn't know how well she'll do...