It isn’t every day that a highly successful New York lawyer buys a home in Jerusalem sight unseen, takes early retirement from the law office of Quint, Mark and Chill – which he had co-founded in 1955 – and comes in 1984 with his wife, Rena, a child Holocaust survivor, to live in Israel’s capital and do what he really wants to do – which is to teach.
Rabbi Emanuel Quint was a born teacher who was highly educated in both Jewish law and secular studies. He taught on a voluntary basis at Yeshiva University in New York, and later at its Israel branch. Together with Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz, he established the Institute of Jewish Law; ran a weekly study night in his home for several years; and headed a kollel, attended mostly by men who, whether observant from birth or newly observant, had never had the opportunity to study Jewish texts.
He was also a visiting scholar in residence at various forums throughout Israel. His oft-repeated saying to students who were hesitant about asking questions that they were afraid might expose their ignorance, was: “There are no stupid questions. There are only stupid answers.”
Quint, who died last week just over three weeks short of his 89th birthday, had been chairman of the Board of Education and later president of the Yeshiva of Flatbush in his native New York, as well as one of the founders of Touro College. He immediately threw himself into educational institutions and activity after arriving in Israel.
In addition to his work with Steinsaltz and his other teaching commitments, he became a director of the Jerusalem College of Technology; was a senior vice president of the Orthodox Union; a president and director of Young Israel of Israel and head of the Rabbinical Court of Young Israel Rabbis; and a trustee of the Rav Herzog Foundation among other accomplishments.
He and his wife were strong advocates of “seeing is believing”. They did this by example and by taking their four children and later their many grandchildren on trips around the world and all over Israel. Not only that, they engaged in most of the activities in which their children and grandchildren were interested. Even at an advanced age, Quint went sky diving with some of his grandchildren.
IN ADDITION to his teaching, Quint was a prolific writer, producing mini-plays related to Jewish holidays for participants in programs in which he was the scholar in residence. He also produced a series on Jewish Jurisprudence, followed by a series of books on A Restatement of Rabbinic Civil Law.
He was also a generous philanthropist, both in sharing his expertise and his wealth. He often gave legal advice free of charge, and never turned away the people who came to his door to collect for charitable purposes. As nearly all of these collectors were men, his wife did not let them into the house if Quint was not at home. Instead of going away, they camped at the entrance to the building until he returned. Likewise, he never passed street beggars without giving them a donation.
The Quints were especially well-known for their hospitality, both in New York and in Jerusalem. Despite being Orthodox with political leanings to the Right, they hosted literally thousands of people in their home. Their guests included Jews from every stream of Judaism, non-Jews from many parts of the world and people of varying political ideologies. All were equally welcome.
Not only did the Quints have guests at their Shabbat table, but every Purim they made a sit-down party for 60-70 people. They also offered their home for weddings as well as for the shiva mourning period for people living abroad who had brought deceased loved ones to Israel for burial. They also extended a friendly hand to would-be converts to Judaism, helping them through the learning process and the rabbinic bureaucracy and making them members of their extended family.
They were extremely good at adopting people who had no relatives or no close relatives in Israel.
THE QUINTS themselves were and still are a very close-knit family. Emanuel Quint was forever sending love notes to his wife, and he and his wife had photographs of their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren all over the house.
He was particularly proud of his wife, who is well known as a lecturer on the Holocaust, speaking regularly to groups at Yad Vashem, the headquarters of various organizations and institutions and in her own home. She has also accompanied youth groups to Poland and has accepted invitations to lecture abroad.
For all of their married life, the Quints – who were married in March 1959 – made a point of counting the days of the Omer together. Whenever Rena Quint was in Poland during that time, they counted together on the phone. Quint often said that he didn’t make decisions without first consulting with his wife. “The only time I was cleverer than her was when I married her.”
Rabbi Emanuel Quint was a man who cared deeply about his family and the Jewish people, and who treated everyone, no matter who they were, with great respect.
Giving of oneself is something that has been emulated by other members of his family, including his son-in-law Ezra Chwat, who in the same week that Quint died, gave a kidney to a woman he didn’t know in order to save her life.
Quint is survived by his wife, Rena, his children, Menucha Chwat, Naomi Silverman, Jodi Patt and David Quint, his sister June Koch and his many grandchildren and great-grandchildren, in Israel, America and England.