A proud teacher of his Sephardic tradition, Rabbi Dovid Jemal led his flock at Kehilat Har Lebanon in the Flatbush section of Brooklyn, N.Y., for decades before his passing in late April due to COVID-19.

Born in Beirut, Lebanon, into a family where he was the youngest of 11 children, Jemal showed an aptitude for Torah study at a young age. Family members referring to him as “the Chacham” after a Polish rabbi in the 1600s.

When he was still just a boy, a relative was leaving Beirut for a better lifestyle elsewhere and asked Jemal if he would come and help with her children. Within hours, Jemal was packed and ready to go, his willingness to be of assistance an indication of the life he would lead.

The rabbi was known for his ever-present smile, as well as his ability to pass on the teachings and customs of the Sephardic community to young and old alike. At Yeshiva Ateret Torah in Brooklyn, he would lead students in song and prayer in the ways he himself had been taught, keeping the thread of history alive.

An expert in circumcision, Jemal would perform brit milahs even for those not in his community, going out of his way to ensure everyone would be comfortable and happy to perform this great mitzvah.

He was seen at the recent Siyum HaShas in January dancing with joy on stage and celebrating the momentous occasion in Torah history. Months later, among Jemal’s last appearances was standing by his window to thank children who had come to wish him well as he battled the coronavirus.

He spent his last days in the hospital, held in such high esteem that the head of the hospital approached family members, exclaiming, “Who is this man? I’ve been getting calls from so many different people who are concerned about him. It’s as if he’s the president!”

He is survived by his extended family.

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