Born into a wealthy gentile family, Rabbi Tuvyah Bayles gave up a life of comfort and privilege to become a member of the Jewish people and became a beloved influence on the hundreds he touched. He passed away on April 19 after contracting COVID-19.

Always reticent to share details of his roots, it is known that after a regular upbringing in New York, Bayles took on a teaching position at a college. Unnaturally curious from his earliest days, when much like Avraham—the forefather of the Jewish people—he would lie in his backyard wondering who created the moon and stars, Bayles was exposed to Jewish people for the first time on campus.

Coming to appreciate Judaism, he took to wearing a yarmulke despite not yet being Jewish (much to the chagrin of a Christian chaplain). The chaplain gave Bayles a copy of the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch, trying to convince Bayles that Jewish law is far too intricate and complicated; however, it only persuaded him to further his efforts to convert.

Bayles arranged a meeting with Rabbi Yitzchok Hutner, a leading rabbi of the day, who upon seeing the young man’s sincerity advised him to travel to Israel and begin his journey under the guidance of Rabbi Yisroel Elya Weintraub, who became his primary teacher and mentor.

Newly Jewish and settled in the religious community of Bnei Brak, Bayles devoured Torah and Talmud, spending hours in study and prayer at the Lederman Shul, and becoming close with the famous Torah leaders who worshipped there. Within a short time, his reputation quickly spread, and he became widely respected for his scholarship and commitment to fulfilling mitzvahs to the highest possible standard. He was also known for his unshakeable faith and belief in G‑d.

Amicable and kind, Bayles made everyone he interacted with feel dignified and respected. He was also an extremely talented musician. His passion was encouraged by his teachers and mentors, and Bayles took extreme pleasure playing for children and adults alike at holiday gatherings and festive celebrations.

After many years in Israel, the Bayles and his family relocated to Hegenheim, France, where he became close with Rabbi Yankele Leiser, the rebbe of Pshevorsk. They also had a stint in nearby Strasbourg, where his wife had relatives, and then moved to Manchester, England, when their children were studying there.

Following the marriages of their children, Bayles settled in Lakewood, N.J., where he became a familiar figure in Beth Medrash Govoha.

Battling an illness in his later years, he didn’t let it affect his extensive study schedule, even until his final days.

Eventually able to secure permission to lay Bayles to rest in his beloved city of Bnei Brak, his family was amazed to discover that the grave their father had been randomly assigned was only two plots away from Rabbi Yisroel Elya Weintraub, the man who had set him on his life’s calling.

Bayles is survived by his wife, Chaya; and their children and grandchildren. The couple was predeceased by a daughter, Miriam, who passed away as a child.

Many thanks to The Lakewood Shopper for their help with this profile.

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