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    This Friday, July 29th, Rosh Chodesh Menachem Av is the

    22nd yahrtzeit of the Bobover Rebbe, Rav Shlomo

    Halberstam (1908-2000), son of Rav Benzion, grandson of

    Rav Shlomo, founder of the Bobov dynasty. At the outbreak

    of World War II, he and his father escaped to Lemberg. On

    the fourth of Av 1942 his father was killed, and Rav Shlomo

    escaped to the Bochnia Ghetto. In Bochnia, the Rav lost his

    rebbetzin and two children. He managed to escape with his

    only surviving child, Reb Naftali, to Budapest, and then to

    Bucharest. Rav Shlomo is believed to have been the last

    remaining Chassidic rebbe to have survived the Holocaust.

    Born in the Galicia region of central Europe, Rav Shlomo

    arrived in the United States in 1946, alone and indigent

    after his group was largely obliterated by the Nazis. During

    the war, Rav Shlomo dressed up as a nun in order to rescue

    other Jews, hiding them in the false bottom of a coal truck.

    He strove to create a Bobov that would match the Bobov

    that had been destroyed, working assiduously to build

    chassidim that his father would have been proud of. Rav

    Shlomo is widely credited with rebuilding the Bobover

    community in the United States.




    It’s hard to believe that its been

    thirty three years. The date, Friday,

    February 12, 1988. It was exactly

    eight days before my Bar Mitzvah.

    Surprisingly my father picked me up

    from Yeshiva and told me we were in for

    a special treat. As we entered Boro Park,

    I still had no clue whom or where I was

    going to see or meet. My father

    managed to  nd a parking spot on 15th

    Avenue between 46th and 47th streets.

    We walked to the corner of 48th street

    and 15th Avenue to an attractive looking

    home that somehow appeared out

    of place in Boro Park. To my surprise,

    outside this home waited my

    90-year-old great uncle Harry Boren

    and his wife, my great aunt Eleanor. My

    uncle greeted me and

    told me again that this

    would be a day I would

    never forget for the rest

    of my life. He was certainly

    correct! I was at the

    home of the Grand Rabbi,

    Rabbi Shlomo Halberstam

    zt”l, The Bobover


    My family is not Bobov,

    however, growing up I

    always knew that my

    family had some sort of

    connection to the Bobover

    family. I knew that my

    family was with Rabbi

    Halberstam zt”l in Poland.

    But that was all I had


    As we were greeted by

    the Gabbai of the Rebbe,

    Reb Shmuel Horowitz zt”l, I immediately

    felt as though we were royalty. The

    Gabbai took us up the steps where the

    Rebbetzin greeted us. We followed the

    Rebbetzin to the dining room, where

    she gave us something to drink and

    warmly conversed with all of us. About

     ve minutes into the conversation, the

    Rebbe appeared.

    The very air around us seemed to clear a

    path for the Rebbe. Could this room

    alone contain all the greatness that

    stood before me? I knew that I was in

    the presence of one of the leading

     gures of Torah Jewry. Physically, he

    was a tall man in stature, with a silver

    beard and horn-rimmed glasses. He

    wore a magni cent navy blue,

    patterned robe. He kissed my

    uncle, and treated him as though

    he was the Rebbe, the “nobleman”.

    His actions and his m a n n e r i s m

    s made an impression on me that

    I shall never forget.

    My uncle proceeded to introduce

    my father and me to the Rebbe. In

    a mixture of broken English,

    Hebrew and Yiddish, the Rebbe

    spoke to us for close to two hours.

    To any Bobover Chasid, this would

    seem impossible, however, the

    Rebbe spoke to my uncle like he

    was his best friend. He talked

    about the old times with my uncle,

    showed us pictures of his family in

    Eretz Yisrael and tested me on the

    Perek of Gemara I was learning in


    My great uncle Harry Boren and

    the Bobover Rebbe discussed the

    relationship between my great

    great Grandfather Aryeh Leib

    Borenstien, (my namesake and Uncle

    Harry’s father) and the Rebbe’s father,

    Rabbi Ben Zion Halberstam zt”l. As

    times grew worse for the Jewish people

    in Galicia, Poland in the early 1900’s, the

    elder Bobover Rebbe recognized the

    dangers that lurked. However, for fear of

    intermarriage and the lures of the

    “brave new world,” Rabbi BenZion

    Halberstam, was hesitant to allow immigration

    to the United States.

    However, he felt that the Borensteins

    were a family that would not succumb

    to outside temptations. Aryeh Leib and

    his family settled in America and the

    situation worsened in Poland. As World

    War II approached, Aryeh Leib recognized

    that the Bobover dynasty was in

    danger of becoming lost in the ashes of

    the Holocaust. He and a small group of

    dedicated followers made every

    attempt, and succeeded, to bring Rabbi

    Ben-Tzion Halberstam, zt”l, and his

    family to America in the 1940’s.

    An hour passed like seconds, and the

    Rebbe took out a Sefer Torah that was

    written by a sofer of the Baal Shem Tov,

    the founder of Chasidus. He told me

    that he was a direct ninth descendant

    of the Baal Shem Tov and that this Sefer

    Torah had been handed down from one

    generation to the next in his family. The

    Rebbe allowed my father and me to

    hold and kiss the Torah. Years later, I

    went to the Rebbe for Simchas Torah

    and learned that he would only dance

    with this Torah on this day. I was among

    the privileged few who had the “zechus”

    to hold this precious Sefer Torah.

    The Rebbe ended our conversation

    when it was time for him to daven

    Mincha. Before he left, he presented me

    with a bar mitzvah gift of a silver

    kiddush cup and his grandfather’s work,

    Divrei Chaim. The bond between our

    families was apparent to me, and the

    bracha he gave me to continue in the

    footsteps of my family only strengthened

    our bond.

    Over the years, I have managed many

    times to visit Bobov in Boro Park. One

    year I visited the Bobover Succah on

    one of the nights of Chol Hamoed. It

    was the  rst time I ever went to a

    Rebbe’s Tish. I was amazed at the

    amount of followers that came, longing

    to get a piece of the Rebbe’s food, a

    bracha in its own right. When the Rebbe

    saw me, he told the person next to him

    to make sure I got a spoon of his soup. I

    was astounded that he still remembered

    me, even years after I had  rst

    met him.

    Regretfully, I had been out of town the

    day of the Rebbe’s P’Tirah. However, I

    heard how the streets of Boro Park had

    been closed for blocks. I heard how in

    addition to the Rebbes six thousand

    chasidim, there were an additional

    thirty thousand mourners from all over

    the world who came to show their

    respect, devotion, and dedication to

    the Rebbe. My father later told me how

    he had been among those who listened

    to the Rebbe’s son’s words of mourning

    and comfort. My father, one of thousands,

    is testimony as to how one man,

    one great man, touched the lives of so

    many and will be gravely missed.