Machberes: Inside The Chassidish And Yeshivish World
By Rabbi Gershon Tannenbaum
Shabbos Nachamu is always a release from intense mourning of the destruction of the two Holy Temples. Coming after Tishah B’Av, the consolation of hope for the rebuilding of the Holy Temple is renewed. We grieve for the many Israel Defense Force soldiers and civilians who lost their lives in the defense of Eretz Yisrael, and we pray for complete and quick healing of those injured. We beg Heaven to mend the many hearts that are wounded. Shabbos Nachamu presents a historical point and is celebrated.
For Pupa chassidim, this year’s Shabbos Nachamu, which coincides with the 13th of Av, is the commemoration of the 30th yahrzeit of Rabbi Yosef Greenwald, zt’l (1903–1984), late Pupa Rebbe and author of Vayechi Yosef and V’yaan Yosef. The Vayechi Yosef miraculously survived the Holocaust and rebuilt and regenerated the illustrious Pupa kehillah that existed before World War II. Chassidim from all over the world are preparing to share in remembering one of the key giants of Torah and chesed from before the war who rebuilt Yiddishkeit after the devastation of the Holocaust.
Jews were permitted to settle in Pupa in 1748, which helped Pupa to grow into a major regional trade center. By the 19th century, Hungary’s third most significant Jewish community had developed there, and the kehillah built Hungary’s third largest shul in 1846. The anti-Jewish laws of 1938–39 caused great hardship in the community, and from 1940 the young Jewish men were sent to forced labor battalions, at first within Hungary, but later (1942) to the Russian front. The Jewish population in Pupa increased from 452 in 1787 to 2,645 in 1840 (then representing 19.6%), and 3,550 in 1880 (24.2% of the total population). After the beginning of the 20th century, a gradual decline began. There were 3,076 Jews in 1910 (15.3%), 2,991 in 1920, 2,613 in 1941 (11%) and 2,565 in 1944. After the German occupation on March 19, 1944, the Jews were confined to a ghetto on May 24, and from there moved to a concentration camp that was set up in a factory in the town. On July 4 and 5, 2,565 Jews of the city plus 300 from the vicinity were deported to Auschwitz, with less than 10% surviving. In 1946, there were 470 Jews in the town (2% of the population) and by 1970 the number of Jews residing there had fallen to less than 40.
At Pupa Yahrzeit
This 13th of Av, Shabbos Nachamu, will be R’ Yosef’s thirtieth yahrzeit. He achieved world recognition as a young man, prior to WWII, having led a large yeshiva in the city of Satmar. When his father, Rabbi Yaakov Yechezkel Greenwald, zt’l (1882–1941), the author of Vayaged Yaakov, passed away in 1941, Rabbi Yosef was elected to succeed his father’s prestigious rabbinical seat. Rabbi Yaakov Yechezkel was a son of Rabbi Moshe Greenwald, zt’l (1853–1911), revered Chuster Rav and author of Arugas Habosem. As the Vayechi Yosef departed the city of Satmar, the entire yeshiva of several hundred students left with him to the city of Pupa, where they would continue to imbibe his sweet Torah teachings.
He lost his wife and ten children, who were murdered during the Holocaust, as well as his yeshiva and his whole community. After WWII, he remarried and began resurrecting the glory of Pupa. He provided lodging and meals for hundreds of young men and reestablished his yeshiva. Assuming the roles and obligations of being both father and mother, the Pupa Rav arranged sustenance and marriages for his orphaned students. Emigrating first to Antwerp in 1947 and then to America in 1951, he settled in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn and began leading his remnant congregation and yeshiva anew with but a handful of followers and students.
The sainted Pupa Rav passed away in 1984 at the age of 81 and was succeeded by his son, Rabbi Yaakov Yechezkel Greenwald. Today’s Pupa kehillah’s size and Torah productivity was unimaginable just a few short decades ago. Pupa presently consists of a network of educational institutions with more than 6,500 students enrolled in its yeshivas, girls’ schools, camps, and kollelim in Williamsburg, Boro Park, Monsey, Westchester, Montreal, Jerusalem, and elsewhere.
Kiryas Pupa is its dedicated community in Westchester with more than 750 students enrolled in its graduate yeshiva located on a pastoral 140-acre campus. The Pupa mosdos are expanding so fast that they are currently building at least one new facility every year and outgrow the new facility before its completion. In addition to the kehillah’s older cemetery in Floral Park, NJ, a newer cemetery is located adjacent to Kiryas Pupa in Westchester. The late Pupa Rebbe is interred in Kiryas Pupa.
Scores of buses will run from Boro Park, Williamsburg, Monsey, and from all points in the Catskills to Kiryas Pupa. Ladies are directed to visit the gravesite on Thursday until 7:00 p.m. From 7:00 p.m. Thursday and all day Friday, only men are permitted there. Similar restrictions will be in effect on Sunday. Parking will be restricted to certain areas and shuttle buses will carry visitors to the ohel (mausoleum). Light refreshments will be plentifully available at tables set up in a special tent nearby. Several tents were set up to accommodate all who wished to participate in various charity efforts of the Pupa organizations, as well as other organizational charities. The scene of the many tents lining the entrance to the cemetery reveals a vitality to an otherwise morose setting. The Rebbe’s visit to the ohel, joined by his chassidim and students, will be a memorable event.
In Kiryas Pupa, the Rebbe will lead the Shabbos tefillos and tisch. Many siyum celebrations dedicated to the yahrzeit will take place throughout Shabbos. The Rebbe will receive petitioners, who approach him for his sage advice and blessings, before and after Shabbos. A special publication fully reporting and updating the progress of the many Pupa educational and charitable organizations will be widely distributed. Additional commemorative meals will be held at all the other Pupa locations throughout the world. ϖ
Rabbi Gershon Tannenbaum is the rav of B’nai Israel of Linden Heights in Boro Park and director of the Rabbinical Alliance of America. He can be contacted at email@example.com.