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I am saddened beyond words by the passing of my beloved friend of many decades, Rabbi Meir Zlotowitz. He was a person of great and many talents: a Torah scholar, a creative entrepreneur, a gifted graphic artist, a superlative fundraiser and above all a man of great vision and daring enterprise. ArtScroll and the Mesorah Heritage Foundation were his gifts to the Jewish people and to his everlasting eternity.

We cannot imagine the Jewish world today without his enormous contributions to the study and dissemination of Torah and Jewish thought. He opened and expanded the understanding of Talmud, prayer, the Bible, Mishna, and the other treasuries of Judaism to the broad English-speaking public. His influence in Israel and the Hebrew speaking public was also of immense importance.
His uncanny ability to realize what the Jewish public needed to connect itself to the timeless treasures of Judaism created generations of stronger, more loyal and more knowledgeable Jews. It is no exaggeration to say that ArtScroll, in all of its projects and publications, is the recognized teacher of the Jewish people in our time.
He took great risks but he accomplished great things. Together with his colleague, Rabbi Nosson Scherman, he created a genre of Torah literature, which has spawned many imitators but very few equals. Others will undoubtedly give him his due, with many articles and eulogies written about him. But I want to remember him as my personal friend, as a warm and caring human being who represented, in his persona and his actions, the finest ideals of Judaism as elucidated in the publications that he authored and produced.
Rabbi Zlotowitz was a keen observer of the traits and vagaries of human behavior. He was a realist in the finest sense of the word. He never gave in to cynicism and undue disappointment in the behavior and actions of others, even with those who did not share his vision and misunderstood his purpose.
His sense of humor was apparent to all who conversed with him. He was able to see the sometimes-ludicrous nature of human interaction, even in matters of scholarship and religious outlook. He was a very normal person who often found himself in very abnormal circumstances and situations.
One left a visit with him always in good spirits with a feeling of pleasantness and accomplishment. Even when he rejected an idea or project that was proposed to him he did so with grace and kindness and even encouragement. And he was a great friend to those who wished to befriend him. He was a source of comfort and cheer in difficult times, with constant strength and encouragement offered to those who were associated with him and with ArtScroll.
He was a rare person in today’s fragmented Jewish world for he bridged many sections of it with his good humor, deep insight, and tolerant and optimistic nature. He was a very special person and as the Talmud records for us, there are only a few present in any generation.
I spoke to him barely a month ago and he was full of plans regarding an ArtScroll Shabbaton that he was planning to conduct this fall. He also spoke of books to be published and projects that were ruminating in his fertile mind. I could not imagine that I would be writing this article only a few weeks later. But such is the uncertainty of human mortality and of God's will.
The entire Jewish people recognize the void that his absence leaves us with. But those of us who cherish him in his human capacity as a friend and a mentor are certainly deeply and personally affected by his untimely passing. There was so much left to be done, so much of the future to be realized that it is hard to imagine that somehow he will not be present to create and strengthen it. Naturally, his legacy will now be carried on by others, his family, colleagues and the great Mesorah Heritage Foundation that he created and led for decades. But to a great extent, he like all other human beings, especially those of note, are irreplaceable in their uniqueness.
The Jewish world is orphaned by his passing and I am saddened beyond words at the loss of such a good and loyal friend. May his memory be a blessing for his family, for his publishing house and most importantly, for all of Israel.
Shabbat shalom
Berel Wein

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