Monday, July 28, 2014

Tragedy Overcome

Originally based in the town of Bobowa in Southern Poland, the Bobover chassidim were almost completely annihilated by the Nazis. Rabbi Ben Tzion Halberstam, the second Bobover Rebbe, and much of his family were murdered in 1941, leaving his son, Rabbi Shlomo Halberstam (1908-2000), as his rabbinic heir to assume the mantle as the third Bobover Rebbe. 

The Halberstams were a distinguished and historic rabbinic family among Polish Chassidim. The first Rebbe of Bobov (also named Shlomo Halberstam - 1847-1905), was the grandson of the Tsanzer Rav, Rabbi Chaim Halberstam (also known as the Divrei Chaim of Sanz). 

Rabbi Shlomo Halberstam was 33 years old when his father was murdered. Although he and his son Naftali Tzvi (later Rabbi Naftali Tzvi Halberstam, the fourth Rebbe of Bobover) managed, through many harrowing situations, to survive the Holocaust, his wife and other children were murdered. As hard as his life was, Rabbi Halberstam dedicated himself to working tirelessly to rescue as many Jews as possible. 

Arriving in America in 1946 with a small following of survivors, Rabbi Halberstam dedicated the rest of his life to rebuilding the Chassidic world that had been destroyed in Europe. He reached out to the survivors who came to New York and finally settled his growing community in the Borough Park section of Brooklyn New York. Rabbi Halberstam and his second wife were blessed with six children. 

Notwithstanding the tragic events of his life, Rabbi Halberstam managed to rebuild the Bobover Chassidic dynasty, doing so through his incredible display of joy in life, devotion to God and love of his fellow Jews. By the time he passed away, on 1 Av, 2000, the Bobov community had become one of the largest Chassidic sects of Judaism in the world. 

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