Machberes: Inside The Chassidish And Yeshivish World
By Rabbi Gershon Tannenbaum
The town of Dinov (Dynov, Dinow) is in the Lwow District of Poland. Jews are recorded as first residing there in 1552. Rabbi Zvi Elimelech Shapiro, zt’l (1783–1841), founding Dinover and Munkatcher Rebbe and author of Bnei Yesoschor, established his Chassidishe court in Dinov in 1825. His magnetism helped prop up the traditional Jewish economy there. In 1880, the Jewish population numbered 1,241 out of a total 2,784 (representing 44%). In 2009, with no Jews residing in Dinov, its population was 6,058. At the foot of the Carpathian Mountain region in Poland, Dinov earned its unique ennobled place in Jewish history during the lifetime the Bnei Yesoschor, who passed away on the 18th of Teves 5682 and was brought to eternal rest in its Jewish cemetery.
Today’s Dinover Rebbe, Rabbi Yitzchok Yaakov Rabinovich, is a brother of Rabbi Moshe Leib Rabinovich, Munkatcher Rebbe. They are sons of Rabbi Baruch Yehoshua Yerachmiel Rabinovich, zt’l (1914–1997), Munkatcher Rebbe; son-in-law of Rabbi Chaim Elazar Shapiro, zt’l (1872–1937), Munkatcher Rebbe and prolific author of Minchas Elazar; son of Rabbi Zvi Hirsh Shapiro, zt’l (1840–1913), Munkatcher Rebbe and author of Darkei Tshuvah; son of Rabbi Shlomo Shapiro, zt’l (1831–1893), Munkatcher Rebbe and author of Shem Shlomo; son of Rabbi Eliezer Shapiro, zt’l (1808–1864), Lantzuter Rebbe and author of Yodai Bina; son of Rabbi Zvi Elimelech Shapiro, zt’l.
Most sadly, at the outset of WWII, when the cursed Nazis entered Poland, they massacred almost all of the Jews of Dinov. On Thursday, the first day of Rosh Hashanah, September 14, 1939, 150 Dinover Jews were murdered by Wehrmacht (“regular” German army) soldiers’ machine-gun fire, and another 50 Jews were locked into the Dinover Shul and burned to death. A despicable day of Nazi infamy.
Seventy-four years have passed since that grievous day. Pious Jews have visited and prayed throughout the years at the grave sites of the Bnei Yesoschor and other prominent rabbis that are buried there. Under Communist rule, visits were clandestine. With the fall of the Iron Curtain in 1989, the number of Jews visiting the grave site have increased geometrically. A large hachnosas orchim facility has been built in Dinov to serve the many who visit. The facility now serves many who visit from afar, but also serves the remaining Jews who live nearby, who come there to draw spiritual strength, fortify their remembrance of Yiddishkeit of old, and to reinforce their religious bonds. Many come during weekdays and some come for Shabbos.
For the first time since that profoundly mournful day in 1939 (5740), a large organized group of hundreds of Jews were in Dinov for Shabbos Sh’mos, December 24–25, 18th Teves, 2010, the yahrzeit of the Bnei Yesoschor. Astoundingly, dozens of resident families from the length and breadth of Poland registered for the special Shabbos. Important rabbis had been invited to participate in the Shabbos and to speak to the assembled.
That eventful Shabbos included the very first Jewish wedding in Dinov since before the Holocaust. The chuppah ceremony took place in the shul courtyard shortly before Shabbos candle lighting. The ceremony was conducted by Rabbi Moshe Bransdorfer, Eidah Hacharedis Badatz dayan in Jerusalem and son of Rabbi Meir Brandsdorfer, zt’l (1934–2009), who served as Toldos Avrohom Yitzchok Rav, and author of Konei Bosem. Rabbi Bransdorfer came especially for the wedding. After Kabbolas Shabbos and Ma’ariv, the Shabbos seudah incorporated the wedding meal celebration. The Shabbos daytime meal celebrated sheva berachos.
The melavah malkah, attended by yet more people who had come from nearby, was an observance of the yahrzeit of the Bnei Yesoschor and a sheva berachos celebration of the wedding. After the unique melavah malkah that was accompanied by music and tales of tzaddikim of old, the entire assemblage walked over to the resting place of the Bnei Yesoschor and recited all of Tehillim. Individual and collective tefillos were recited, beseeching personal petitions as well as seeking blessings for all Children of Israel.
In Dinov 5773–2012
The Bnei Yesoschor writes that Zois Chanukah, the last day of Chanukah, is a special day when prayers for conception and for livelihood are accepted. The Bnei Yesoschor composed a special tefillah for such supplication. Through the years, thousands have converged at the ohel (mausoleum) which entombs his eternal place of rest. In recent years, the Bnei Yesoschor Foundation was established to facilitate coming to Dinov.
For the first times since before World War II, large groups come to Dinov, especially for Zois Chanukah. Last year, bitter cold weather did not prevent thousands from coming and celebrating in Dinov. After Chanukah candle lighting at the ohel, praying, singing, and dancing continued for more than five hours. Many report that their tefillos at the ohel were answered.
In 2012, Zois Chanukah was on Sunday. With Chanukah candle lighting being on Motzaei Shabbos, many elected to be in Dinov and nearby for Shabbos. The Bnei Yesoschor Foundation had outfitted its hachnosas orchim building and chartered additional facilities in Dinov to comfortably accommodate the many chassidishe pilgrims that were there. The Motzaei Shabbos event, with the unified group recital of the Bnei Yesoschor’s special tefillah, was an unforgettable emotional experience.
Yahrzeit Shabbos In Dinov
For the first time since that mournful day in 1939, Shabbos Sh’mos, 18th Teves, December 20–21, will have hundreds, possibly thousands, celebrate the yahrzeit of the Bnei Yesoschor. The yahrzeit coinciding with Shabbos is a relatively rare occurrence, happening only when the fast of the Tenth of Teves falls on erev Shabbos. The recently completed hachnosas orchim building will serve as the center of activities. Since its completion, the hachnosas orchim facility has increased manyfold the number of visitors to the gravesite, both during weekdays and especially for Shabbos.
Dinov In America Today
Rabbi Yitzchok Yaakov Rabinowitz, Dinover Rebbe, had led the Dinover Beis Medrash on Ditmas Avenue at East 9th Street in Kensington-Flatbush for more than 30 years; it was one of the first Chassidishe institutions there. The Dinover Rebbe radiated Chassidus and Torah observance out to the surrounding neighborhood, markedly raising its level of Torah consciousness. Many in the environs of the Flatbush Dinover Beis Medrash were drawn to the warmth of the Chassidishe intensity that blazed brightly there. During his occasional visits to Williamsburg, the Dinover Rebbe drew large followings, creating a popular demand for him to take up residence there.
Originally, a satellite Dinover Beis Medrash was established on Harrison Avenue in Williamsburg, which served as the nucleus for the many Dinover Chassidism that lived there. Shortly after its initial opening, the beis medrash was routinely crowded and many encouraged the Rebbe to build a much larger one. That encouragement was coupled with requests for the Rebbe to make Williamsburg his home.
Dinover Chassidim in 2001 acquired a large building lot at 77-87 Wallabout Street in Williamsburg, where plans were drawn to build a large edifice to include a large sanctuary as well as several smaller ones, a mikvah, and facilities for a full-time kollel. At that time, the location was on the periphery of chassidishe Williamsburg. Today, it is at its very center.
The cornerstone-setting ceremony formally initiated the project. The huge attendance at that time, coupled with the many important chassidishe rabbanim, rebbes, and rosh yeshivas who participated, emphasized the serious intentions propelling the large undertaking.
Dinover Rebbe Moves
Shabbos Tahara (Metzorah), April 11–12, 2008, was designated as the welcoming Shabbos when the Dinover Rebbe began his permanent residence in Williamsburg. Hurriedly, the final touches were given to the beis medrash. Arrangements were made for the huge overflow of guests anticipated. The Shabbos schedule was continuously updated as more and more people gave notice of their intended participation. On that Friday, Minchah and Kabbolas Shabbos began at 7:40 pm when the Dinover Rebbe resplendently entered the beis medrash and proceeded to the amud (reader’s lectern) to lead the tefillos.
At the end of Shabbos Ma’ariv, thousands lined up to personally receive the Rebbe’s gut Shabbos wishes. As the clock struck 10:30 p.m., the Rebbe stepped into the beis medrash to begin the tisch. The waiting crowd made way for the Rebbe to walk to his seat of honor. Throughout the tisch, more and more chassidim joined. The tisch ended late into the evening, with everyone knowing that they had just participated in a special and historic event.
Jewish history will note that the Shapiro and Rabinowitz rabbinical family infused Dinov and its environs with spirituality for almost 200 years and that thousands of Jews still draw inspiration from Dinov, in America as well as in Poland. v
Rabbi Gershon Tannenbaum is the Rav of B’nai Israel of Linden Heights in Boro Park and Director of the Rabbinical Alliance of America. Rabbi Tannenbaum can be contacted at email@example.com.