Chanukah, Hatzolah, And Deep Freeze In Uman
Despite forecasts of sub-freezing bitter cold weather, thousands of Breslover chassidim sojourned in Uman for Shabbos Chanukah, December 14-15, at the gravesite of Rabbi Nachman of Breslov (1772-1810). Shabbos Chanukah is one of three times during the year when Breslovers gather there, coming from Israel, Europe, the U.S. and Canada.
The Uman Hatzolah facility was established on Pushkina Street to serve all Bresover chassidim and other visitors. Since the 1990s there has been a small but growing year-round Jewish population in Uman, concentrated around Rebbe Nachman of Breslov’s tomb. The local Jews are mostly involved in providing services to Jewish tourists. In addition, several manufacturing and import-export businesses have been established.
Because of the frosty weather, Hatzolah Uman issued a directive to all visiting Breslover chassidim to bring warm clothing. The directive instructed pilgrims to bring along an adequate supply of prescription medications, noting that filling prescriptions in Uman may be impossible. Further, the directive stressed that visiting Uman at this time of year is physically challenging due to the inclement weather; several years ago a Breslover chassid suffering from breathing difficulties passed away.
Skverer Rebbe’s Eldest Son Visits Israel
As chassidishe communities grow, with branches blossoming in cities in Israel, Europe, and America, the personal participation by Rebbes in all the various events becomes impossible. As a result, we are increasingly seeing sons of Rebbes leading events their fathers are unable to conduct. Rabbi Menachem Mendel, eldest son of Rabbi Aaron Teitelbaum, Satmar Rebbe; Rabbi Aaron Mordechai Rokeach, only son of Rabbi Yesachor Dov Rokeach, Belzer Rebbe in Jerusalem; and Rabbi Aaron Menachem Twersky, firstborn son of Rabbi Dovid Twesky, Skverer Rebbe, seem to be in perpetual motion attending numerous events around the world representing their fathers.
Rabbi Aaron Menachem Twersky arrived in Israel on Monday, December 3, to participate in a family simcha. Rabbi Menachem Ernster, son-in-law of Rabbi Moshe Yehoshua Hager, zt”l (1917-2012), Bnei Brak Vishnitzer Rebbe, is Rabbi Aaron Menachem’s uncle. Rabbi Ernster is the Bnei Brak Vishnitzer Rosh Yeshiva. Rabbi Ernster’s granddaughter was being married. The kallah is the daughter of Rabbi Chaim Meir Ernster, Manchester Vishnitzer Rav, who is also a mechutan to Rabbi Aaron Menachem.
In addition, Rabbi Aaron Menachem attended the wedding of a grandchild of the Erlauer Rav and of Rabbi Eliyahu Shternbuch, Antwerp Rosh Bet Din. Rabbi Aaron Menachem also attended the wedding of a grandchild of the Rachmestrivka Rebbe of Boro Park and of the Jerusalem Chernobler Rebbe.
Once in Israel, Rabbi Aaron Menachem visited the holy sites in Yerushalayim, Teverya, Tzefas, Meron, Har Hazeisim, Har Hamenuchos, and the gravesites of the Vishnitzer Rebbes. He was joined by a large number of Skverer chassidim who came from America, Europe, and cities in Israel. He visited Skverer shuls and institutions in Jerusalem, Bnei Brak, and Beth Shemesh, where he addressed students regarding Chanukah. On Thursday, December 13, he returned home.
Nikopolis, Bulgaria, Honors The Beis Yosef
The city of Nikopolis in Bulgaria is historically significant in that the last of the crusades was defeated there in 1396. The last Bulgarian tsar defended what remained of the once extensive Bulgarian Empire from the fortress of Nikopolis. He was captured and the town was conquered by the Ottomans. After the expulsion of the Jews from Portugal in 1497, the Ottoman Empire welcomed Jews. Rabbi Yosef Karo, (1488-1575), author of Beis Yosef, went with his parents to Nikopolis in Bulgaria, then under Ottoman rule.
During World War II, Bulgaria’s Jewish population was saved by the heroism of the Bulgarian government and the Bulgarian people.
The city fathers of Nikopolis have decided to honor the history of their city’s embrace of persecuted Jews and to note the achievement of one of those refugees, who served as the city’s Rav and is today recognized as one of Judaism’s greatest authorities.
The main thoroughfare of the city’s center was renamed Beis Yosef, this in addition to Bulgaria’s having renamed a main thoroughfare in Silistra in honor of Rabbi Eliezer Papo. Between 1819 and 1826, Rabbi Papo, author of Pela Yoetz, was the Rav of Silistra, making the town an important Jewish site. His gravesite is a popular destination of pilgrims coming to pray for good health and salvation