Renowned in the Chassidic world and beyond for their legacy of song, Modzhitz was a large and important dynasty in the heart of pre war Polish Jewry. Founded by Rav Yechezkal of Kuzmir, it would be his grandson Rav Yisrael of Modzhitz who would give the dynasty its name, as well as developing song as its trademark. 
Rav Shaul Yedidya Taub further expanded the court, moving to Otwock outside of Warsaw. With the arrival of the Second World War, he escaped to Vilna then Japan, before arriving in the United States. He attempted to rebuild his decimated court, passing away a few years later. This was continued by his descendants in Tel Aviv, and later in Bnei Brak and in Brooklyn. 
Read more about the topic in a captivating book by a scion of the Modzhitz dynasty: https://www.amazon.com/Perilous-Escape-Journey-Europe-Freedom/dp/160280351X
 
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More Episodes

Great American Jewish Cities #18: Boro Park Part II

September 20, 2020
The most Jewish place outside of Israel? The center of the universe? Boro Park seems to be the epicenter of Jewish life in many ways. As it developed pre war, it was an out of town upscale neighborhood for those distancing themselves from Manhattan and Williamsburg. The original shuls like Shomrei Emunah, Temple Beth-El, Anshe Sfard, Bnei Yehuda and others grew at the time. Eitz Chaim Yeshiva and the Shulamis school for girls were the first schools of its kind in the neighborhood, and in the case of the latter in the entire country.
Slowly the neighborhood attracted different kind of crowd. The Chernobyl Rebbe established the first chassidic shtiebel in the 1930's. After the war, Rav Avraham Joffen opened the Novardok Yeshiva, Rav Aharon Kotler became a neighborhood resident and a group of Mir students from Shanghai established the Mir Minyan on 16th Ave & 54th St. Moshe Koussevitzky was the Chazzan at Beth-El during this time. 
It wasn't long before the Chassidim began arriving in ever greater numbers. The Munkatch court was revived there, and the Bobover Rebbe arrived in the late '60's from Crown Heights. Novominsk, Sighet, Ger, Belz, Spinka and dozens of other dynasties had their headquarters, the Rebbe or at least a shtibel in the neighborhood. 
Mendelssohn's Pizza, Biegeleisen's sforim store, Maimonides Hospital and the shopping of 13th Ave all became fixtures of Boro Park and into the realm of legend. Rav Moshe Sherer's efforts to rehabilitate the neighborhood in the late 1970's led to further growth and expansion. Great poskim like Rav Menashe Klein, Rav Moshe Bick, the Debrecen Rov and many others called Boro Park home. A comprehensive list of the people and places in Boro Park's storied history would be too vast, and a small peek into the sights and sounds of the neighborhood will suffice.
 
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Great American Jewish Cities #18: Boro Park Part I

September 15, 2020
The most Jewish place outside of Israel? The center of the universe? Boro Park seems to be the epicenter of Jewish life in many ways. As it developed pre war, it was an out of town upscale neighborhood for those distancing themselves from Manhattan and Williamsburg. The original shuls like Shomrei Emunah, Temple Beth-El, Anshe Sfard, Bnei Yehuda and others grew at the time. Eitz Chaim Yeshiva and the Shulamis school for girls were the first schools of its kind in the neighborhood, and in the case of the latter in the entire country.
Slowly the neighborhood attracted different kind of crowd. The Chernobyl Rebbe established the first chassidic shtiebel in the 1930's. After the war, Rav Avraham Joffen opened the Novardok Yeshiva, Rav Aharon Kotler became a neighborhood resident and a group of Mir students from Shanghai established the Mir Minyan on 16th Ave & 54th St. Moshe Koussevitzky was the Chazzan at Beth-El during this time. 
It wasn't long before the Chassidim began arriving in ever greater numbers. The Munkatch court was revived there, and the Bobover Rebbe arrived in the late '60's from Crown Heights. Novominsk, Sighet, Ger, Belz, Spinka and dozens of other dynasties had their headquarters, the Rebbe or at least a shtibel in the neighborhood. 
Mendelssohn's Pizza, Biegeleisen's sforim store, Maimonides Hospital and the shopping of 13th Ave all became fixtures of Boro Park and into the realm of legend. Rav Moshe Sherer's efforts to rehabilitate the neighborhood in the late 1970's led to further growth and expansion. Great poskim like Rav Menashe Klein, Rav Moshe Bick, the Debrecen Rov and many others called Boro Park home. A comprehensive list of the people and places in Boro Park's storied history would be too vast, and a small peek into the sights and sounds of the neighborhood will suffice.
 
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The Life of the Chofetz Chaim: Part IV Personalities & Publications

September 12, 2020
The Chafetz Chaim influenced the Jewish People in many ways, among them through his Yeshiva in Radin and through the many popular books which he authored. Through his Yeshiva he influenced generations of students, while hiring a staff of Roshei Yeshiva par excellence. Rav Moshe Londinski, Rav Naftali Trop, Rav Yerucham Levovitz, the Chafetz Chaim's own sons in law Rav Hirsh Levinson and Rav Mendel Zaks, to mention a few. Though the Yeshiva experience a bit of downturn with passing of the old generation, the name lived on in other Yeshivas founded to carry his memory.
The Mishna Berura was the Chafetz Chaim's famous work, which had an impact on halacha across the Jewish world and increased in influence over time. The impetus of his writing was to fill a need and reflected on the great responsibility he felt towards his people. Such was his work Machaneh Yisrael geared towards Jewish soldiers in the Czar's army. Nidchei Yisroel was a companion for the Jewish immigrant, while other pamphlets were geared towards Jewish women.
 
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Sisters of the Revolution Part II: To Teach or not to Teach?

September 8, 2020
Facing the various challenges presented by modern times, education for girls loomed as a viable solution. Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch promulgated traditional education for Jewish women early on in his career, and later implemented it in his Realschule in Frankfurt in 1853. Formal Torah education for girls was thus a reality and could be copied by other communities facing similar challenges.
The Chafetz Chaim decried the state of traditional Jewish life in many of his writings, and declared that Torah education for girls is imperative at this juncture of history in light of the challenges of modernity. 
The context of the time saw much reformation of the Jewish educational system in general and in regards to girls in particular. With the rise of the Cheder Metukan in the Russian Empire, many of these new schools opened their doors to girls as well. This was followed a generation later by the Zionist Tarbut schools and the Yiddishist Tzisha schools, both of which included girls within their educational system. In addition to public schools, by this time girls education was happening everywhere. It was only a matter of time that it would spread further.
 
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The Revenge of the Yekkes: The Story of the Ritchie Boys

September 5, 2020
With the commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the end of World War Two, here is a return to the story that Jews played in winning the war. The Ritchie Boys were a group of German speaking Americans, of whom some were recent German Jewish refugees, recruited by the US military. They were needed for their language skills, translations, interrogations and some espionage too.
Following the D-Day invasion, the Ritchie Boys were attached to front line units where they interrogated recently captured German soldiers. The information obtained was used on the battlefield, defining strategy and saving lives.
With their return to their native Germany, they participated in the liberation of concentration camps while confronting the knowledge that their own close relatives had been among the victims. The feeling that their contribution to the war effort had made a significant difference to the outcome, was in a certain way a sense of closure and even triumph.
 
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Great American Jewish Cities #17: The Catskills

September 2, 2020
The Mountains, the Catskills, the Borscht Belt, upstate, the country. Monticello, Liberty, Woodridge, Swan Lake, Woodbourne, Fallsburg. A place of many names with one thing in common: a place rich in Jewish history and lore.
As a summer destination, the Catskills would be home to countless bungalow colonies as city Jews organized their communities for a mountain air getaway. Generations of children attended the many summer camps that dotted Sullivan County. Camps included Mesivta, Agudah, Munk, HILI, Kol Rinah, Torah Vodaath, Ohr Shraga, Sternberg and many more including the Betar Jewish self defense camp where Vladimir Jabotinsky died in 1940.
It was also famously known as the Borscht Belt, and the legendary hotels/resorts/country clubs like Grossinger's, Kutscher's and the Concord made their mark as vacation sites. Most Jewish comedians of the time commenced their careers there.
In addition to the summer crowd, the Catskills were home to many year round Jewish communities over the years. These towns built shuls, mikvas, hired Rabbis and even Jewish owned farms burgeoned for a time. This included Yeshivas as well such as the Mountaindale Yeshiva of Rav Yehuda Davis and the famous Yeshiva of South Fallsburg.
 
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Tradition & Change: Rav Reines & the Lida Yeshiva

August 29, 2020
Rav Yitzchak Yaakov Reines (1839-1915) was a leading rabbinical leader who attempted to confront the challenges of his day with innovative solutions. Seeking to refresh the rabbinate as well save the youth, he incorporated secular studies in the Yeshiva he founded in Shvintzian and later in Lida. Having studied in Volozhin and Aishishok, he embarked on a rabbinic career while promulgating his innovative ideas in learning style, education and even language.
The Yeshiva in Lida was ultimately successful, reaching and enrollment of over 300 under the able leadership of Rav Shlomo Poliachek, the Meitcheter Iluy. Rav Reiness also founded the Mizrachi, the religious Zionist faction of the Zionist movement.
 
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Sisters of the Revolution Part I: Emancipation & Assimilation

August 26, 2020
Jewish History Soundbites celebrates our 200th episode with the launch of a new series, about the changes in the roles of traditional Jewish women and women's education in modern Jewish history.
 
The 19th century brought sweeping changes to the world in general and to the Jewish population in particular. By the end of the century, Jews in most countries had achieved emancipation. Even in places like the Russian Empire where they hadn't yet, the winds of change were still blowing.
Though this affected all facets of Jewish life and community, it is with regard to the status and the future of the Jewish woman that is the focus of our story. With new opportunities in education and society, many Jewish women began to struggle with the traditional gender roles within Jewish society. Many chose to leave traditional Jewish life altogether.
At the rabbinical conference in Krakow in 1903, the challenges facing Jewish women were hotly debated, as Jewish education for girls was proposed as a possible solution. In the meantime, Jewish feminism was on the rise as Bertha Pappenheim challenged norms and demanded change. It was a time of upheaval for all, and the Jewish woman was no exception.
 
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The Ruzhin Dynasty & the Age of Succession

August 22, 2020
With Sadigura in the news, here's an overview of the Ruzhin dynasty and which branches are still active today. Some like Shtefanesht, Husyatin and Chrotkov are pretty much gone. Boyan is here but without the Friedman name. Buhush and of course Sadigura are still around with the direct Friedman link.
Interestingly enough, there have been young successors to positions of power throughout history. Rav Chaim Brisker, Rav Moshe Feinstein, Rav Ovadiah Yosef, the Ben Ish Chai, Rav Isser Zalman Meltzer, the Yenuka of Stolin, the Belzer Rebbe, Rav Nachman of Breslov, the Ruzhiner himself, King Hussein of Jordan, Michael Dell and many, many others, have risen to leadership at a young age, with each once being another unique piece of history.
 
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Great American Jewish Cities #16: Los Angeles

August 19, 2020
The rich Jewish past of Tinseltown is worth at least a full length feature. The architects of Hollywood were Jewish immigrants, who were joined by many talented Jews heading west, who created an entire industry and cultural revolution.
Orthodox Judaism took a bit longer to strike roots, but Rabbi Simon Dolgin and other intrepid pioneers planted the first seeds which blossomed with the arrival of many survivors in the post war era. From Beth Jacob to YICC, from Toras Emes to YULA, from Venice Beach to Pico Robertson, LA has a Jewish story to tell.
Rav Simcha Wasserman built a Yeshiva named for his illustrious father, Rabbi Marvin Heir built the Wiesenthal Center, and philanthropists from Sam Menlo to Shlomo Yehuda Rechnitz funded one initiative after another. One of the first community Kollels in the United States had a great impact on the community's growth as well.
 
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A Fatherly Warrior: The Satmar Rav Part II

August 15, 2020
Scion of the Sighet Chassidic dynasty, Rav Yoelish Teitelbaum continued the legacy of his illustrious forbears on all fronts. As a Rosh Yeshiva, communal Rabbi, Chassidic leader and fiery warrior against the various modernist trends of his time. With his escape from Hungary on the Kastner Train and subsequent settlement in Williamsburg following a brief stint in Israel, he focused his energies on rebuilding.
As a visionary and at the same time a very practical realist, he created the infrastructure of full "kehilla" - community, which went beyond the realm of a chassidic court. In that capacity, he served as the inspiration of numerous chessed organizations including the lifesaving Hatzalah emergency medical service. 
Known for his uncompromising stance on modernity in general and Zionism in particular, he refused to back down even when it seemed that he was the lone fighter in ideological stance.
 
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Great American Jewish Cities #15: The Five Towns

August 12, 2020
Lawrence, Cedarhurst, Woodmere, Hewlett, Inwood. Somehow the individual names come together to form the larger Jewish community of the Five Towns. Historically an upscale suburban area that boasted country clubs and golf courses that didn't welcome Jews, the demographics began to change in the post war. 
Shuls like Beth Shalom, Young Israel of Woodmere, Young Israel of Lawrence-Cedarhurst were formed over time. They were led by pioneering Rabbis like Rabbis Gil Klaperman, Shya Lebor, Nochum Tzvi Kornmehl and many others. With the arrival of Rav Binyamin Kamenetsky in 1956 and the founding of the Yeshiva of South Shore, Jewish education was ensured a future in the Five Towns. 
Of course eating is an important component of Jewish life in the region, and Central Avenue would become the home of a variety of famous eateries. Colorful personalities, philanthropists, politicians and activists all called the Five Towns home, and we'll meet some of them on this Jewish history journey into Long Island.
 
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Echoes of Novardok on the Streets of Bnei Brak: The Steipler Story

August 8, 2020
Born into a chassidic home in Ukraine, Rav Yaakov Yisrael Kanievsky (1899-1985) subsequently studied in the Novardok Yeshiva later becoming a Rebbi at the Pinsk branch of the network. Upon his move to Israel in 1934, he joined his famed brother in law the Chazon Ish and also assumed a position in the Novardok branch in Bnei Brak.
In his later years he assumed a position of leadership in the Torah world alongside Rav Shach. At the same time he authored his magnum opus Kehillas Yaakov, while also becoming renowned for his sage advice in all contemporary matters in the Jewish world.
 
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Great American Jewish Cities #14: Miami

August 5, 2020
Original home to the Miami Boys Choir and to the Jewish owned Miami Heat, Palm Beach County also has the largest concentrated Jewish population in the world outside of Israel.
Though attractive as the sunny alternative to the harsh New York winter, the Miami Jewish community developed independently building infrastructure and institutions. It was in the post war era that things began to take off. The visionary Rabbi Alexander Gross was one of the great architects of the community's growth. Other early leaders of the community included Rabbis Aryeh Rottman, Berel Wein, along with the early shluchim Rav Avraham & Rivka Korf and later the Rosh Yeshiva Rabbi Leibel Schapiro. The Yeshiva with Rabbi Yochanan Zweig at the helm has greatly impacted the community as well. 
Yet through the decades Miami had been famous for hosting great Jewish leaders who vacationed there during the winter months. This phenomenon would have a long lasting and unique impact on the community's growth along with the exposure to the diversity of the entire Jewish people.
With Larry King, Myer Lansky and Ron Dermer all making appearances as well, the story of the Jews of South Florida is another glorious chapter in American Jewish History.
 
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Brisk in the Holy Land Part I

August 2, 2020
Escaping from war torn Europe, Rav Yitzchok Zev (Velvalleh) Soloveitchik known to posterity as the Brisker Rov, arrived in the Holy Land in the spring of 1941. Though tragically his wife and three of his children weren't able to make it out, the Rov and his seven remaining children continued the Soloveitchik dynasty in Israel.
His oldest son Rav Berel became Rosh Yeshiva, while his daughter Lifsheh ran the house and eventually married Rav Michel Feinstein. Rav Rephoel was his father's dedicated right hand man and became legendary for his communal activism. Rav Meir and ybl"ch Rav Dovid launched successful Yeshivas of their own. Each branch of the family added their own to the enduring Soloveitchik aristocratic legacy.
 
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Treacherous Brothers: The Yevsektsia Destryoys Jewish Life in Russia

July 29, 2020
Few stories among the many tragedies of Jewish history are as heartbreaking as the destruction of Jewish life in Russia by the Yevsektsia. While the majority of these occurrences were perpetrated from enemies on the outside, the Yevsektsia was an entirely Jewish organization. It's a story of Jews waging war on traditional Jewish life. 
Following the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917, the Yevsektsia was established as a Jewish section of the Communist party, with the mandate to galvanize the Jewish workers in support of the Revolution and communism. At their own initiative, these primarily young Jewish revolutionaries extended their mandate to suppress all that was perceived to be counter revolutionary activity. The Kehillas, Cheders, Yeshivas, Shuls, Rabbinical leadership, Zionism, culture, Hebrew language, Jewish political parties and any other vestige of Jewish life was brutally suppressed and wiped out. By 1929 they were disbanded, but the damage was done. Once the world center of world Jewry, Russian Jewish traditional life was obliterated. It's 3 million Jews stuck behind the Iron Curtain.
 
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Great American Jewish Cities #13: Cleveland Part II

July 27, 2020
This great city of the Midwest hosted some impressive events, institutions and personalities throughout its Jewish community's long history. Once a center of Reform Judaism with Abba Hillel Silver, it was also home to one of the earliest short lived Yeshivas in the United States when Rav Yehuda Levenberg moved his New Haven Yeshiva to Cleveland.
Rabbi Israel Porath was the long time Rabbinic leader, but it was Telz Yeshiva and its great leadership that really transformed the town. Rav Elya Meir Bloch, Rav Mottel Katz, Rav Mordechai Gifter, Rav Baruch Sorotzkin and many more transformed Cleveland and the Yeshiva world at large with the aristocracy of Telz. The Telz impact was felt with the founding of the Hebrew Academy by the Dessler Family and the Yavneh Girls school. The great philanthropists of Cleveland included Irving Stone, the Spero brothers and Mendy Klein. 
Chassidus struck roots in Cleveland with the Cleveland dynasty, Chabad and even Kaliv. 
 
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Great American Jewish Cities #13: Cleveland Part I

July 26, 2020

This great city of the Midwest hosted some impressive events, institutions and personalities throughout its Jewish community's long history. Once a center of Reform Judaism with Abba Hillel Silver, it was also home to one of the earliest short lived Yeshivas in the United States when Rav Yehuda Levenberg moved his New Haven Yeshiva to Cleveland.

Rabbi Israel Porath was the long time Rabbinic leader, but it was Telz Yeshiva and its great leadership that really transformed the town. Rav Elya Meir Bloch, Rav Mottel Katz, Rav Mordechai Gifter, Rav Baruch Sorotzkin and many more transformed Cleveland and the Yeshiva world at large with the aristocracy of Telz. The Telz impact was felt with the founding of the Hebrew Academy by the Dessler Family and the Yavneh Girls school. The great philanthropists of Cleveland included Irving Stone, the Spero brothers and Mendy Klein. 
Chassidus struck roots in Cleveland with the Cleveland dynasty, Chabad and even Kaliv. 
 
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Great American Jewish Cities #12: The Lower East Side Part II

July 23, 2020
The cradle of civilization. The melting pot. The place where it all began. The ghetto, tenement buildings, overcrowded sweatshops. Romantic memories of a picturesque neighborhood, with beautiful shuls and a rich culture. Great rabbis, active socialists and the Jewish mob. The first Yeshivas, labor unions and delicatessens. Huddled masses pushcart sellers and the Yiddish Theatre. 
The descriptions of this unforgettable neighborhood can go on forever, and we wouldn't even scratch the surface. When at its peak, the density was the highest in the entire world, with the largest Jewish population in the world. The constant stream of immigrants created a diversity of Jewish life that is unmatched anywhere else. 
 
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Great American Jewish Cities #12: The Lower East Side

July 21, 2020
The cradle of civilization. The melting pot. The place where it all began. The ghetto, tenement buildings, overcrowded sweatshops. Romantic memories of a picturesque neighborhood, with beautiful shuls and a rich culture. Great rabbis, active socialists and the Jewish mob. The first Yeshivas, labor unions and delicatessens. Huddled masses pushcart sellers and the Yiddish Theatre. 
The descriptions of this unforgettable neighborhood can go on forever, and we wouldn't even scratch the surface. When at its peak, the density was the highest in the entire world, with the largest Jewish population in the world. The constant stream of immigrants created a diversity of Jewish life that is unmatched anywhere else. 
 
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Maharam Brisk & the Hungarian Yeshiva World

July 18, 2020
The title "Yeshiva World" usually conjures images of the great citadels of Torah of Lithuania, but parallel to that development was the Yeshiva world in Hungary. Large in size and unique in style, the Hungarian Yeshiva world provided generations of Hungarian communities with Rabbis, teachers and a rich traditional life. 
One of the most prominent of these Yeshivas in the generation before the war was that of the Maharam Brisk in Toshnad (Tasnad), Transylvania. As one of the leading Rabbis of his day, he did much to strengthen Jewish life in the entire district. His Yeshiva became one of the largest - over 300 students - and from the most prestigious in the entire country. 
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A Lithuanian Mystic: Rav Shlomo Elyashiv

July 16, 2020
Rav Shlomo Elyashiv was one of the greatest Kabbalists in recent Jewish history. Settling in the town of Shavl, he proceeded to author his magnum opus the Leshem Shevo Veachlama, and influencing young Rabbis like Rav Kook in kabbalistic teachings.
In 1924, he moved to Eretz Yisroel together with his daughter and son in law Rav Avraham Levinson who changed his name to Elyashiv at this time. They were accompanied by their Bar Mitzvah age son, the future Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv.
Upon arriving in Jerusalem, they became an influential family, with Rav Avraham Elyashiv founding the Tiferes Bachurim organization, which provided a framework for Torah study for the young working men of the Old Yishuv.
 
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Great American Jewish Cities #11: The American South Part I

July 14, 2020

With a foray into the south, we examine the stories of some great Jewish communities south of the Mason-Dixon line. Charleston, South Carolina is home to one of the oldest Jewish communities stretching back to colonial times. In the Antebellum South, it achieved renown as the largest Jewish community in the United States for many years. Charleston has the distinction of being the home of the oldest continuous Orthodox Ashkenazi Shul in America, along with being the home of the origins of Reform Judaism on that side of the Atlantic. The city was to play a central role in the Civil War, which was a war which had far reaching ramifications for Jews in other areas of the south as well. Nearby Savannah has a colonial era history as well with Sephardic Jews arriving in the 18th century. Polish Jews established an Orthodox community before the Civil War, and generations of the Garfunkel family played a role in the community's development with some impressive Rabbinical figures having served there. We wrap up with Memphis, where we meet Rabbis Efraim & Nota Greenblatt, Refael Grossman, Meir Belsky and many others. Elvis makes an appearance as well on this journey down south.

 

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A Historic Campaign: The Chofetz Chaim Sefer Torah

July 11, 2020

The Lithuanian Yeshiva world in interwar Poland was facing financial crisis. The Vaad Hayeshivas was the umbrella organization which sought to alleviate the financial burden from the Yeshivas. With the passing of the Chofetz Chaim, the beloved leader, as well as founder and head of the Vaad Hayeshivas in September 1933, the Jewish People was plunged into mourning. The Vaad Hayeshivas embarked on a campaign to write a Sefer Torah in memory of the Chofetz Chaim. Each letter would be sold, and the proceeds would go toward funding the Yeshivas which were in ever desperate straits. This would be a world wide campaign, in which it was hoped that all would desire to partake in this special endeavor. The Sefer Torah was duly written, with individuals from Jewish communities around the world having bought letters and receiving a special certificate as acknowledgement of their participation. Amid great festivities, the Torah was dedicated in honor of the 2nd yahrtzeit of the Chofetz Chaim in Elul 1935, where it was brought from Vilna to Radin.

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Stories of Ner Israel Part II

July 9, 2020

In the annals of the Yeshiva movement, the story of Ner Israel Rabbinical College occupies a position of its own. Named for founder of the Mussar movement Rav Yisrael Salanter on the foundations of the world of Slabodka, it then pioneered a vision adaptable to the world of the American Yeshiva student. Rav Yaakov Yitzchak Ruderman as founder, Rosh Yeshiva, educator and personification of greatness in Torah scholarship, led generations of students, molding and guiding on the path of Torah greatness. Aided by his brother in law the legendary activist Rabbi Herman Neuberger, together built up the Yeshiva into a veritable empire. Luminaries such as the Mashgiach Rav Dovid Kronglas, the Rosh Yeshiva Rav Shmuel Yaakov Weinberg, Rav Yaakov Moshe Kulefsky, and many more graced the Yeshiva with the presence and their incalculable influence is very much felt till today. As a premier Torah institution, Ner Israel has influenced and continues to influence Jewish life in the greater Yeshiva world, the Baltimore Jewish community, across the United States and beyond, down to this very day. In honor of Rav Ruderman's recent yahrtzeit, presented here is but a small sampling of anecdotes of the Yeshiva's gloried past. 

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Great American Jewish Cities #10: Philadelphia

July 7, 2020

Perhaps no other city in the United States can boast of such a long, rich and consistent Jewish history narrative as the City of Brotherly Love. Historic synagogues like Mikveh Israel - which at one point received funding from Benjamin Franklin, and Rodeph Shalom which was the first Ashkenazi shul in the Western Hemisphere are symbols of the colonial era Jewish community. The 19th century saw Isaac Leeser, Sabato Morias, Marcus Jastrow and others make their mark on the development of Philadelphia Jewish life and their influence on the wider American Jewish community. The interwar period brought Chassidic Rebbes, great philanthropists and even the Lubavitcher Rebbe - who visited the Liberty Bell - to Philadelphia. Led by a succession of great rabbinical leaders like Rabbis Bernard Levinthal, Ephraim Eliezer Yolles, Baruch Leizerowski, Sholom Shneiderman, Moshe Lifshitz and many others including the contemporary Rabbi Avraham Shemtov. The Philadelphia Yeshiva was founded by Rav Shmuel Kamenetsky and together with Rav Elya Svei, Rav Mendel Kaplan and other greats have made it one of the premier Torah institutions in the United States. Philadelphia personalities as diverse as Benjamin Guggenheim, Uriah Phillips Levy and Binyamin Netanyahu make their appearance as well in this city rich with Jewish history. Subscribe To Our Podcast on: Apple: tinyurl.com/yy8gaody Google Play: tinyurl.com/yxwv8tpc Spotify: tinyurl.com/y54wemxs Stitcher: bit.ly/2GxiKTJ Follow us on Twitter or Instagram at @Jsoundbites You can email Yehuda at yehuda@yehudageberer.com

Stories of Ner Israel Part I

July 4, 2020

In the annals of the Yeshiva movement, the story of Ner Israel Rabbinical College occupies a position of its own. Named for founder of the Mussar movement Rav Yisrael Salanter on the foundations of the world of Slabodka, it then pioneered a vision adaptable to the world of the American Yeshiva student. Rav Yaakov Yitzchak Ruderman as founder, Rosh Yeshiva, educator and personification of greatness in Torah scholarship, led generations of students, molding and guiding on the path of Torah greatness. Aided by his brother in law the legendary activist Rabbi Herman Neuberger, together built up the Yeshiva into a veritable empire. Luminaries such as the Mashgiach Rav Dovid Kronglas, the Rosh Yeshiva Rav Shmuel Yaakov Weinberg, Rav Yaakov Moshe Kulefsky, and many more graced the Yeshiva with the presence and their incalculable influence is very much felt till today. As a premier Torah institution, Ner Israel has influenced and continues to influence Jewish life in the greater Yeshiva world, the Baltimore Jewish community, across the United States and beyond, down to this very day.

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Great American Jewish Cities #9: Seattle

June 30, 2020

Out in the Pacific Northwest, Seattle boasts a rich Jewish past. As the last stop coming from the east, the first stop when arriving from Vladivostok and a destination during the Klondike gold rush, Seattle's Jewish community grew immensely at the turn of the century. Rabbinical leaders like Rabbi Baruch & Rebbetzin Hinda Shapiro, Rabbi Solomon Maimon, Rav Chaim Yaakov Levin, even a short stint of Rav Yaakov Kamenetsky plus many more. Personalities like Samuel, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, along with native sons Rabbis Nisson Wolpin, Yissachar Frand, Marc Angel and others. We share the story of Seattle’s Business Leaders, Jewish Music Legends and some regular folks. Seattle emerges as a diverse and fascinating story.

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All the Kings Men: Great Leaders in the Court of Ger

June 27, 2020

In the Ger empire of Chassidic Poland, the Rebbes of the Alter family - the Chiddushei Harim, Sfas Emes & Imrei Emes - achieved renown for their leadership. Other members of the family served in crucial roles in the chassidus, the Rabbinate and general leadership of Polish Jewry through stable as well as challenging times. Their names haven't been enshrined on the pages of history as much as their more famous family members. Their achievements however, were no less significant. The Chiddushei Harim's son - and father of the Sfas Emes - was a unique individual Rav Avraham Mordechai Alter who passed away in his father's lifetime. The sons of the Sfas Emes - Rav Nechemia Alter a Rosh Yeshiva in Yerushalayim & Rabbi in Lodz, Rav Mendel Alter of Pabianice as Rosh Yeshiva in Ger and later one of the leading Rabbis in Poland & the immortal Rav Moshe Betzalel who was one of the leading lights of the Ger court. Then comes the sons in law, Rav Chanoch Tzvi Levin - the Bendiner Rov - a primary leader of interwar Polish Jewry, along with his son the famed Agudah politician Itche Meir Levin, and Rav Yaakov Meir Biderman of the Warsaw Rabbinate. And of course there are more, as we explore this most aristocratic family of pre war European Jewry.

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Great American Jewish Cities #8: Montreal

June 23, 2020

In the snowy Canadian north, a large Jewish community flourishes. Unique in many ways, Montreal boasts an old and well established infrastructure, with a diverse Jewish population that includes Chassidim, Modern Orthodox, Sephardic, Yeshiva community and more. Great personalities left their imprint through the decades. Rabbis like Rav Yudel Rosenberg, Rav Pinchas Hirschsprung, Rav Mottel Weinberg, the Tosher Rebbe, the Pupa Rov and many more. Other personages such as Leonard Cohen and Charles Bronfman made their mark in other ways. With the French language becoming dominant, it led to an exodus of certain parts of the community, yet brought an influx of Moroccan Jews. With lots of Hungarian background, French language and even some Alter Mirrers, Montreal has quite a story to tell.

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From Refugee to Royalty: Rav Shneur & Rebbitzin Rishel Kotler

June 20, 2020

Among the great builders of Torah of the twentieth century were Rav Shneur (1918-1982) & Rebbetzin Rishel Kotler (1923-2015). At times overshadowed by his illustrious father Rav Aharon, Rav Shneur's accomplishments were wide ranging and impressive in their own right. As a young refugee, he lived by his grandfather Rav Isser Zalman Meltzer in Yerushalayim, arriving in the United States after the war. With his characteristic simplicity and modesty, he'd go on to preside over the exponential growth of the Lakewood Yeshiva following his father's passing. This was in addition to his myriad communal responsibilities, along with his own initiatives such as the opening of a string of Kollels across the fruited plain. The Friedman family was among the most prominent Torah and mussar families first in Memel and later in Kovna. Young Rishel would be exposed to the leading Rabbinical scholars of the day through her parents hospitality. Fleeing to Shanghai while her fiancee was on the other side of the world, they finally married after the war. Surviving her husband by more than three decades, she oversaw the growth and expansion of the Yeshiva, while monitoring its activities behind the scenes.

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Making of a Godol Stories Part II

June 17, 2020

Here's another installment of enjoyable stories from the book Making of a Godol by Rabbi Nosson Kamenetsky along with related stories. We'll travel through pre war Europe and hear about how the Kovna Kollel was founded, the Yeshivas of Minsk, Rav Meir Shapiro's visit to Litvish Yeshivas, challenges of secularization, Rav Tzvi Hirsh Rabinowitz of Kovna, how Rav Chaim Brisker's sefer came to be printed and more.

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The Prophet of Doom & The Prophetess of Comfort: The Story of the Leibowitz Siblings

June 13, 2020

Two siblings who were high achievers and shared similar life paths. Yet the two couldn't be more different. Nechama Leibowitz, with all of her academic positions, saw herself as simply a teacher. One who strove to encourage the study of Tanach with its diverse range of commentary. Coupled with her love for the Hebrew language and her desire to teach and reach others wherever they may be, made her a beloved figure and teacher for generations of students. Her elder brother Yeshayahu, having grown in the same home in Riga, took his academic career early on in Germany towards a host of sciences - organic chemistry, biochemistry, neuro physiology and others. What gained him renown however was his radical views in philosophy, political philosophy and the philosophy of religion. Fearless in promulgating provocative ideas, he was wont to stir controversy in many circles for his political and religious beliefs.

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Great American Jewish Cities #7: Pittsburgh

June 10, 2020

With the growth of the steel industry, Pittsburgh became home to a sizable and prestigious Jewish community. While the Pittsburgh Platform of 1885 gave the city an association with Reform, and Jews had an impact on the local sports scene, immigrants from Eastern Europe along with some impressive Rabbinical and communal leaders laid a solid foundation for the traditional Jewish community. Early Rabbis like Rav Moshe Shimon Sivitz, Rav Aharon Ashinsky and Rav Wolf Leiter, and later luminaries like Rav Sholom Posner the chinuch pioneer, the Pittsburgher Rebbes, Rabbi Bernard Poupko and many others. Nearby Mckeesport had a sizable Jewish community as well, with Rabbi Yitzchak Chinn leading the Gemilas Chesed shul for over a half a century.

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The History of The Volozhin Yeshiva Part 5: Closing Time

June 7, 2020

Several factors came together which forced the great Yeshiva of Volozhin to close its doors on a cold winter day in 1892. The Yeshiva had been under close scrutiny from the Czarist government for decades, with various attempts at meddling with the Yeshiva's internal affairs, including attempts at implementing a general studies curriculum for Volozhin. The aging Netziv, seeking a successor who would help alleviate the crushing financial burden of the Yeshiva, brought in his son Rav Chaim Berlin as his replacement. The ensuing turmoil as a result of the succession dispute, led the Czarist officials to the conclusion that anarchy reigned within the Yeshiva and Volozhin must be closed. Although later attempts were made to reopen the legendary doors of Volozhin, the glory days were over for the "mother of the modern Yeshiva". This final installment is part 5 and not part 6 as was mistakenly said on the recording.

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Washington Heights Part II: Rav Schachter Remembers

June 4, 2020

At the northern tip of Manhattan, Washington Heights is a city neighborhood while distant enough from the hustle and bustle of Midtown. Already with a Jewish presence at the turn of the century, it rose to prominence with the arrival of Yeshiva College/RIETS uptown from the Lower East Side in 1929. This was immediately followed in the 1930's with the huge influx of German Jewish refugees fleeing Nazism. A small group, together with the newly arrived Rav Dr. Joseph Breuer, founded K'hal Adath Jeshurun thus firmly establishing the neighborhoods reputation as "Frankfurt on the Hudson". Here we'll explore the varied institutions of this Kehilla, the rise and growth of the YU campus, as well some of the additional shuls and shtibels of the area. We will encounter personalities like Rav Breur, Rav Shimon Schwab, Dr. Raphael Moller, Rav Revel, Rav Soloveitchik, Rav Hershel and Rebbetzin Shoshana Schachter, Henry Kissinger, Lou Gherig and many more. Traveling through time and hearing about about the schools, kashrus, the eruv, shiurim, vacation, migration trends and other exciting anecdotes of Washington Heights.

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Great American Jewish Cities #6 Washington Heights Part I

June 4, 2020

At the northern tip of Manhattan, Washington Heights is a city neighborhood, while distant enough from the hustle and bustle of Midtown. Already with a Jewish presence at the turn of the century, it rose to prominence with the arrival of Yeshiva College/RIETS uptown from the Lower East Side in 1929. This was immediately followed in the 1930's with the huge influx of German Jewish refugees fleeing Nazism. A small group, together with the newly arrived Rav Dr. Joseph Breuer, founded K'hal Adath Jeshurun thus firmly establishing the neighborhoods reputation as "Frankfurt on the Hudson". Here we'll explore the varied institutions of this Kehilla, the rise and growth of the YU campus, as well some of the additional shuls and shtibels of the area. We will encounter personalities like Rav Breur, Rav Shimon Schwab, Dr. Raphael Moller, Rav Revel, Rav Soloveitchik, Rav Hershel and Rebbetzin Shoshana Schachter, Henry Kissinger, Lou Gherig and many more. Traveling through time and hearing about about the schools, kashrus, the eruv, shiurim, vacation, migration trends and other exciting anecdotes of Washington Heights.

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Making of a Godol Stories Part I

May 31, 2020

Meticulously researched and 1,400 pages long, the monumental work "Making of a Godol", contains a wealth of stories about great Jewish leaders of yesteryear. In honor the first yahrtzeit of the author Rav Nosson Kamenetsky, whose decades long research produced this masterpiece, a selection of choice anecdotes from within its pages are presented here. From the great city of Minsk to the hallowed halls of Volozhin Yeshiva to the small shtetls of Lithuania, from Rav Boruch Ber Leibowitz to Rav Yisrael Salanter and Rav Yaakov Kamenetsky and many more. The tapestry of Jewish life that goes on display through these timeless stories, can serve to continually educate and inspire.

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Of Bombs & Money: The Desperate Attempts to Save Hungarian Jewry

May 28, 2020

With most of European Jewry decimated and the Red Army advancing in the east, the Hungarian Jewish community remained the last great center of Jewish life on the continent. Following the German invasion of Hungary in March 1944, senior SS officers were dispatched to Budapest to organize the deportations, which were to commence immediately and with terrifying speed. Legendary rescue activist Rabbi Michael Ber Weissmandel had years of experience at various rescue attempts by dealing directly with the Nazis from occupied Slovakia. He, together with his fellow members of the Working Group, now turned to make a last ditch attempt at saving Hungarian Jewry.

He did this in three ways: 1. The time tested efforts at bribery and ransom. This included closely following the negotiations that took place in Budapest between the Nazis and the Relief & Rescue Committee. 2. Beseeching the Allied Powers to bomb the crematorium at Auschwitz and the railways leading there. 3. Warning Hungarian Jewry what was in store for them. Though largely unsuccessful, his valiant efforts at rescue are a testimony to the greatness of this heroic individual and to the story of that tragic period of time.

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Great American Jewish Cities #5: Chicago

May 26, 2020

Title: Great American Jewish Cities: Chicago Summary: When Jews blew into the Windy City, a great community in the Midwest began to rise. There may have been a World Series drought, but there was no drought of Jewish life and Torah growth in Chicago over the decades. What commenced with the massive immigration to the West Side - Maxwell Street, later Lawndale - in the 19th and early 20th centuries, solidified with the building of great shuls and educational institutions in the ensuing decades. Hebrew Theological College, Telz, Arie Crown, Vietzener Cheder, Lakewood Kollel and so many more. We'll meet personalities like Rav Chaim Tzvi Rubinstein, Rabbi Oscar Fasman, Rav Chaim Kreiswirth, the Novominsker Rebbe, Rav Tzvi Hirsh Meisels, Rav Aharon Soloveitchik, Rav Chaim Zimmerman, Rabbi Ephraim Epstein and many other Chicago personalities. From gourmet food to the Jewish mafia to changing neighborhoods, the story of Jewish Chicago is a major factor in the development of the American Jewish community.

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From Shanghai to East New York: Stories of Bais Hatalmud

May 23, 2020

When a senior group of the lions of the Mir got together in the late 1940's, they formed one of the most unique creations in the annals of the Yeshiva movement. Bais Hatalmud evokes memories of individuals like Rav Leib Malin, Rav Chaim Visoker, Rav Shmuel Charkover and so many other greats from the "Alteh Mir". A place where pre war mussar themes were taken literally and seriously, where the Yeshiva as a place of purity and of an intense atmosphere of growth was held as the ultimate ideal - the "Tzuras Hayeshiva". We'll take a peak into a humble Bais Medrash in East New York (and later Bensonhurst) where Bais Hatalmud's stories can continue to inspire till this very day.

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A Bittersweet Victory: The 1948 Battle for Jerusalem

May 21, 2020

While Yom Yerushalayim is a day that primarily focuses on the Six Day War and the capture of Yerushalayim, it leads one to wonder how it was lost in the first place. For that we must return to the battle of Jerusalem in the spring of 1948. With the British preparing to leave, the Haganah and the Arab Legion were preparing to fight for the city. It's a match between David Shaltiel, the German born Haganah commander, against his adversary Abdullah Tal. With Yerushalayim under siege, civilians had wait on line for water, and the food shortage led to starvation. The hope for Jewish sovereignty in the Holy City was soon dashed, as the last residents of the Jewish Quarter into Jordanian captivity. An ugly divide of barbed wire, would divide the ancient city for the 19 years to come.

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Great American Jewish Cities #4: Cincinnati

May 19, 2020

The oldest Jewish community west of the Allegheny's, Cincinnati wasn't just the home of the Big Red Machine. In the 19th century, Isaac Mayer Wise and Max Lilienthal made Cincinnati the center for the emerging movement of Reform Judaism in the United States. This was culminated in the infamous "Trefa Banquet" incident in 1883. Later on it became a center of Orthodoxy with Rabbis like Rav Avraham Lesser and Rav Leizer Silver pioneering efforts in kashrus, education and leadership positions in the American Rabbinic world. A place of many Jewish firsts on the American Jewish scene, Cincinnati was also home to some of the first kosher food products like Manischewitz machine matza.

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Wisdom & Dignity: The Life and Lessons of Rav Moshe Shapiro

May 16, 2020

Few can match the depth, breadth and wisdom that Rav Moshe Shapiro (1935-2017) had and shared through many venues to decades of students. As someone who absorbed from many of the greatest Torah scholars and thinkers in his youth, he proceeded to create a synthesis of it all that resulted in his own innovative approach. A great teacher of Torah, Kabbalist, kiruv pioneer and more, he influenced individuals across the spectrum of Jewish society. With a deep appreciation of the wellsprings of the past, he would often travel to Europe to the Jewish communities of old, enabling others to connect to the roots of Jewish identity.

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Great American Jewish Cities #3: Crown Heights

May 12, 2020

One of the many Brooklyn neighborhoods that was a center of diverse Jewish life for decades, Crown Heights is also unique in many ways. From its pre war days and the first JCC in America, to the influx of Chassidic Jews in the post war, it boasted a variety of shuls, shtiebels and schools. Bobov, Skulen, Novominsk, Radzin, Yeshiva of Eastern Parkway and Kollel Gur Aryeh were just some of the many groups and institutions who had a presence in the bustling neighborhood. With the arrival of the Rayatz of Lubavitch in the United States in 1940, Chabad headquarters were eventually established at the legendary address of 770 Eastern Parkway. With the "white flight" of the 1960's in full swing, the Rebbe insisted that his Chassidim stay put. As the courageous holdouts, Chabad would come to dominate Jewish life in Crown Heights and eventually come to be synonymous with the neighborhood itself.

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The Crown of Aleppo

May 9, 2020

The oldest complete Tanach in the world, the Aleppo Codex, known as the "Keter", was and still is revered as a national treasure. As a source and guide for the text and vowelization of Tanach, it was one of the most important ancient texts of the Jewish People. For nearly six centuries it was carefully safeguarded by the Aleppo Jewish community. Following a series of riots at the end of 1947, the Keter seemingly disappeared, resurfacing 11 years later through a daring smuggling operation to the State of Israel. As it was turned over to then President Yitzchak Ben Tzvi, it was discovered that nearly half of the manuscript was missing. Was it simply lost? Was it stolen? By whom? Why was it handed over to the State for safekeeping? Some of the mystery surrounding the Keter remains with us till this very day.

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Great American Jewish Cities #2: Baltimore

May 5, 2020

One of the most storied Jewish communities in the United States, Baltimore has a fair amount of "firsts". First ordained Orthodox Rabbi to serve in the US - Rabbi Joseph Rice, first Day School outside of NY and first kosher Hot Dog stand at a Major League Baseball stadium. Home to famous institutions like Ner Israel and Talmudical Academy - Chafetz Chaim, and famous individuals like Rabbi Herman Neuberger and Rabbi Moshe Heineman, Baltimore has made its on American Jewish life. At the same time, less famous aspects of the city's past come to life as well, such as the pioneering girls education with the Bais Yaakov of Rabbi Binyamin Steinberg, the Glen Ave Synagogue, and personalities like Rav Michoel Forshlager and Rav Yitzchak Sternhell.

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A Kingdom Restored: Belz in the Holy Land

May 2, 2020

The rebuilt Belz Chassidic community of today is a story of miracles and change. From almost total decimation during the war, they sustained an additional blow with the passing of the previous Rebbe, Rav Aharon Rokeach of Belz in 1957. It seemed that the glory days of this great dynasty were done. And yet it was rebuilt. This miraculous rebirth was accompanied by an atmosphere of innovation, in an otherwise traditional and conservative community. Elements of change in education, political affiliation, employment and even music, coupled with the able and strong leadership of the current Rebbe Rav Yissachar Dov Rokeach, enabled Belz once again become a large and influential Chassidic court.

Listen to the prequel to this episode: https://soundcloud.com/user-18061157/the-great-escape-the-belzer-rebbe-and-the-farewell-drasha-in-budapest

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The Center of it All: Great Rabbis in Warsaw

April 30, 2020

Capital of the Jewish world, Warsaw played a central role in all aspects of Jewish life - politically, culturally, socially and of course religiously. Great rabbinical figures served in official capacities in the Warsaw Rabbinate, in the city's educational institutions, in unofficial positions as residents of the city, and of course as visitors to the country's capital. One of the prominent Rabbinic families that served generations of the Warsaw Jewish community was the Zilberbergs. The most famous of whom was Rav Naftali Vershover (1848-1930), who was close with all the great leaders of his day and served the needs of Polish Jewry. Through their story, we'll encounter the places and people of Jewish Warsaw including the famed Warsaw Mesivta, as well as meeting the Bais Halevi, two Gerrer Rebbes, the Chafetz Chaim, Rav Chaim Brisker, Rav Meir Don Plotzki - the Kli Chemda, and many more.

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