In my recent trip to Jerusalem during the Passover, was at the Kotel when I saw a rabbi praying alone surrounded by a crowd of followers. One of them approached and asked me to take some pictures of his rabbi. When he finished praying, he ran fired with more than a dozen followers who would have way. It was difficult to get a good position to take pictures. I actually knocked down once. Upon arriving home, I discovered the history ofthis controversial rabbi.
Rabbi Yaakov Aryeh Yeshia Milikowsky was born in the United States. He is the present Amshinover Rebbe in the Bayit Vegan, a neighborhood in southwest Jerusalem, Israel, with a mostly Haredi Jewish population. He is the grandson and successor of Rabbi Yerachmiel Yehudah Meir Kalish of Amshinov.
He prays for hours on end, meditating on every word, as a result of which he ends the Sabbath very late. Once an adam gadol, a very learned man, discussed the Halachic implications of the Rebbe’szmanim with the late Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach. Reb Shlomo Zalman referred to the Rebbe as a “Pillar of Fire” and advised his questioner that one who touches fire will be burnt. The Rebbe is also the mentor of the famous Hasidic preacher, R. Tzvi Maier Zilberberg who considers himself an Amshinov chassid. The renowned mekubal Rebbe Yitzchok “Itche” Myer Morgenstern, the rosh yeshiva ofYeshivas Toras Chochom considers the Amshinov Rebbe the “Tzadik HaDor.”
The Amshinover Rebbe is widely known within the Haredi world, and is regarded within Hassidic circles for his exceptional Ahavas Yisroel, love of every Jew; a good example is his warmth towards Shlomo Carlebach and his unconventional followers. The Rebbe has literally counseled thousands of newcomers to Judaism. The Amshinov Rebbe has been quoted as believing that Reb Shlomo was the “Pillar of Prayer.” In the present generation the Rebbe himself is considered a “pillar of tefillah” and davens for hours on end. Of note is the Rebbe’s guidance of the Sde Tzofim Yeshiva in Beitar for Baalei Teshuva.
The Rebbe is also known for his outstanding advice in medical matters. HaRav Meier Bransdorfer, z”l advised the Rebbeim of “A Time” to consult with the Amshinov Rebbe – “a eish gadol meod” regarding complicated medical shailas. His advice is sought after on very delicate matters worldwide.
The Tomb of Rachel, Judaism’s third-holiest site, has been the scene of prayer and pilgrimage for more than three thousand years. Is a small religious building revered by Jews, Christians and Muslims. It is believed by some to be the burial place of the biblical matriarch Rachel. The tomb is located within a Muslim cemetery in a walled enclave biting into the outskirts of Bethlehem, 460 meters south of Jerusalem’s municipal boundary, in theWest Bank. The earliest extra-biblical records describing the tomb as the believed site of Rachel’s burial place date back to the beginning of the 4th century.
It has been viewed as the symbol of the return of the Jewish people to its ancient homeland. For Jewish women, the tomb was associated with fertility and became a place of pilgrimage to pray for successful childbirth.
During my last travel to Israel, during Passover, was crowded by jewish practitioners from around the country, who took advantage of their vacation days to make a pilgrimage to this sacred place.
West Jerusalem’s Gan Sacher is the best park of Jerusalem, with a kilometers-long stretch of space separating Nachlaot and Rechavia from the government complex housing the Knesset and the Supreme Court.
The park’s amenities include two play areas for children (one large and modern, the other old, wooden and emblematic of a more austere Israel), basketball courts, tennis courts, soccer pitches, a skateboarding park, a dog area, a walking/running path, and two tunnels which seem to serve as the communal canvas of Jerusalem’s graffiti artist community.
The park is often host to huge concerts during holidays and yearly festivals, and every inch of it is covered by grill-bearing families committed to having fun the only way they know how on Independence Day.
I was there during Passover. During the holidays, many Jewish families take the opportunity to enjoy the facilities and spend the day. It is common to see many families picnicking, playing in its attractions and enjoying the peace of their surroundings.
Kfar Chabad was established in 1949 by Yosef Yitzchok Schneersohn.The first inhabitants were mostly recent immigrants from the Soviet Union, survivors of World War II and Stalinist oppression. Kfar Chabad, which is located just outside Lod and about 8 km south-east of Tel Aviv, includes agricultural lands as well as numerous educational institutions. It serves as the headquarters of the Chabad-Lubavitch Chassidic movement in Israel. Kfar Chabad is a Lubavitch community.
Menachem Mendel Schneerson (April 5, 1902 – June 12, 1994), known as the Lubavitcher Rebbe or just the Rebbe among his followers, was a prominent Hasidic rabbi who was the seventh and last Rebbe (Hasidic leader) of the Chabad-Lubavitch movement. He was fifth in a direct paternal line to the third Chabad-Lubavitch Rebbe, Menachem Mendel Schneersohn. In January 1951, a year after the death of his father-in-law, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok Schneersohn, he assumed the leadership of the Lubavitch movement.
He led the movement until his death in 1994, greatly expanding its worldwide activities and founding a worldwide network of institutions to spread Orthodox Judaismamong the Jewish people. These institutions include schools, kindergartens, synagogues, Chabad houses, and others, and are run under the auspices of Merkos L’Inyonei Chinuch, the educational branch of the Chabad movement. During his lifetime many of his followers had considered him to be the Jewish Messiah.
I had the opportunity to visit Kfar Chabad with Mr. Pini Gorelik, who offered me the chance to visit the village and know its peculiarities. I was impressed by the legacy left by the Rabbi Schneerson. I was struck by the history of sunday Dollars.
As the Chabad movement grew and more demands were placed on Rabbi Schneerson’s time, he limited his practice of meeting followers individually in his office. After his heart attack in 1977, he reduced the frequency of his twice-weekly practice of all-night Yechidut—private audiences with whomever would request an appointment, and from then until 1982 only foreign visitors, and families with a momentous occasion such as a wedding or bar-mitzva were allowed private meetings —though community leaders and Israeli government officials would also still occasionally meet with the Rebbe in private for lengthy discussions. These private audiences had generally taken place on Sundays and Thursdays, starting at 8pm and often continuing until 8am. At such private audiences he would meet over three thousand people.
In 1986,Rabbi Schneerson again began to regularly greet people individually. This time, the personal meetings took the form of a weekly receiving line in “770″. Almost every Sunday, thousands of people would line up to meet briefly with Schneerson and receive a one-dollar bill, which was to be donated to charity. People filing past Schneerson would often take this opportunity to ask him for advice or to request a blessing. This event is usually referred to as “Sunday Dollars.”