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The Amazing Return of the Yabloner Rebbe – Tablet Magazine

The Amazing Return of the Yabloner Rebbe – Tablet Magazine

It was a scorching, balmy day in June 1975, and the solar beat mercilessly down on the Cal-State campus in Northridge, California, as crowds of mother and father, grandparents, siblings and pals arrived to have fun the commencement of their family members. As soon as inside the commencement corridor, households eagerly appeared for his or her graduate amongst the a whole lot of graduates, who have been seated in the entrance few rows. Proud moms waved at their little kids and blew them kisses, and the graduates, of their caps and robes, sheepishly grinned again.

A bit of previous man, shuffling slowly into the corridor, didn’t appear to belong to any household group. Wearing a black robe and cap, he was truly one of the graduates—at virtually 80 years previous, he was senior to the second-oldest graduate by a margin of many many years. Seemingly oblivious to the noise round him, he slowly made his means ahead, nodding virtually imperceptibly at the few individuals who made eye contact.  As he reached midway towards the entrance of the corridor, a person in his mid-30s instantly stepped into the aisle in entrance of him.

“Hello, uncle!”

The previous man appeared up. His face crinkled right into a broad smile, and his unhappy brown eyes twinkled with pleasure.

“Ehud, wow, I really was not expecting you. That is so nice of you. Thank you so much for coming. You know it wasn’t necessary …”

“Don’t be ridiculous,” Ehud replied, “how could I have missed your graduation?”

The previous man grinned broadly, and shook Ehud’s hand. An usher urged him to seek out his seat, and he slowly walked in the direction of the graduates’ part, the place the nondescript octogenarian was nothing greater than a barely out-of-place curiosity. Those that knew him referred to as him George, or Mr. Nagel. That was his identify—George T. Nagel, an aged Jewish man with a overseas accent, who lived in a room in the dorm constructing, and most of the time might be discovered studying in the library.

In the 5 years he had been at CSUN, though he lived in the dorm constructing, George had made no actual buddies amongst the younger college students. Nobody knew precisely how previous he was, nor why he was so eager to graduate with a level in psychology. However honestly, no one cared sufficient to ask.

George Nagel was a loner. Though he was unfailingly well mannered in his interactions, interactions have been restricted to mealtimes, and he clearly had little interest in socializing. He was unobtrusive and studious, a phantom who had been dwelling beneath the identify George T. Nagel for over 40 years. His actual identify was Yechezkel Taub, and he was the scion of one of Poland’s most illustrious Hasidic dynasties, having inherited his father’s title at the age of 24, together with a thriving Hasidic “court” and a sect numbering hundreds of loyal followers.

In truth, though nobody at CSUN on that scorching day in 1975 knew it, George T. Nagel was none aside from the once-acclaimed “Yabloner Rebbe,” the founder of a singular village referred to as Kfar Hasidim close to Haifa in what’s now the State of Israel, to which he led lots of of his loyal followers from Poland earlier than the Holocaust. What not even Taub realized on the day of his nameless commencement was that a course of had began that might see the Yabloner Rebbe reunited together with his previous and reconnected with the distinctive challenge from which he had desperately tried to flee, however with which he would ceaselessly and unavoidably be recognized.

***

Yechezkel Taub was born on Oct. 7, 1895, in Nowe Miasto (Neishtot in Yiddish), a small city in Poland simply east of Płońsk, north of Warsaw. His father, Rabbi Yaakov Taub, was “Rebbe” of Jabłonna (Yablona), a small rural city near Warsaw that was residence to a vibrant Orthodox Jewish group. Revered throughout Poland as a mystical Hasidic chief, Rabbi Yaakov was a great-grandson of the unique Yechezkel Taub—after whom he named his new child son—the illustrious Rebbe of Kuzmir (Kazimierz Dolny), progenitor of a number of Hasidic dynasties, most famously the Modzitzer sect, famend for his or her love of music and for his or her quite a few lovely musical compositions sung at Sabbath and pageant gatherings.

Rabbi Yaakov’s father, Rabbi Yosef Moshe Taub (d.1866), had moved to Jabłonna from Nowe-Miasto, the place his father Rabbi David Tzvi Hirsch Taub had based a department of the Kuzmir sect. Pious and religious, Rabbi Yosef Moshe was married to a descendant of Rabbi Yisrael Hopstein, the legendary Maggid of Kozhnitz, and he arrange his personal department of the Kuzmir dynasty in Jabłonna, turning into generally known as the Yabloner Rebbe. Tragically he died younger, leaving his 6-year-old son, Yaakov, to be raised by his grandfather.

In 1882, Rabbi Yaakov married Beila Gurman, and in the years that adopted that they had 5 youngsters—Yechezkel and 4 daughters. Unusually, it was Rabbi Yaakov’s son-in-law, Chaim Yosef Halevi Vanchotzker, married to his oldest daughter, Michal Rachel, who was groomed to be the successor, relatively than his son, Yechezkel. When Chaim Yosef unexpectedly died at a younger age, the burden of expectation instantly fell upon Yechezkel. However, this unpredicted flip of occasions was not of nice concern. At the time of Chaim Yosef’s dying, Rabbi Yaakov was nonetheless in his 50s, and it might certainly be a few years earlier than Yechezkel would inherit the Rebbe’s title and duties.

However Rabbi Yaakov was not in good well being. Quickly after WWI started, he moved from Jabłonna to Warsaw, to be nearer to Poland’s greatest medical docs and amenities. Sadly, it was to no avail. In the summer time of 1920, at the age of 60, Rabbi Yaakov handed away, and Yechezkel, not fairly 25 years previous and barely ready for the place, all of the sudden discovered himself at the head of one of Poland’s prestigious Hasidic sects.

With the assist of his spouse, Pearl, a Kozhnitz descendent whom he had married in 1915, and his widowed elder sister, Michal Rachel, Yechezkel threw himself into the activity of main and galvanizing his followers, intent on dwelling as much as the legacy of his father and the Kuzmir Hasidic heritage. Genuinely involved for the welfare of his followers, he was very heat and personable, along with being discovered and extremely smart. He turned concerned in each facet of his followers’ lives, ensuring that the wealthy helped the poor, and that the much less well-off devoted time to group affairs in order that they wouldn’t really feel like takers. The Hasidim adored him and flocked to his weekly Friday night time tisch gatherings, the place he sang with them and regaled them with Torah discourses. The new Yabloner Rebbe was thought-about a rising star amongst the Hasidic Rebbes of Poland, and a future chief of Polish Jewry.

But every part modified in 1924, with the go to to Jabłonna by a distant relative of the younger Rebbe, the charismatic Rabbi Yeshaya Shapira, a crown prince of the Polish Hasidic world. Rabbi Yeshaya’s late father, R. Elimelech Shapira, had been the revered Rebbe of Grodzisk, whose followers numbered in the tens of hundreds and have been unfold throughout Poland. Tragically, Rabbi Elimelech’s eldest three sons had predeceased him, so he remarried in his 60s and had two extra sons, the first of whom, Rabbi Kalonymous Kalman of Piaseczno, would later turn into immortalized as Rebbe of the Holocaust-era Warsaw Ghetto, whose inspiring sermons to demoralized ghetto inhabitants, recorded on scraps of paper, have been recovered from the rubble of the ghetto after the conflict, and revealed in a e-book titled Esh Kodesh (“Sacred Fire”).

The Yabloner Rebbe, Palestine, 1925.

Rabbi Yeshaya Shapira was Rabbi Elimelech’s youngest youngster. Inside a yr of his start R. Elimelech died, and his widow moved again to her mother and father’ residence, the place the two boys have been introduced up and educated by her father, Rabbi Chaim Shmuel Horowitz-Szterenfeld of Chantshin, a descendent of the “Seer” of Lublin and one of the most uncommon Hasidic Rebbes in Poland at the moment. Extremely studious and with a gifted mind, he was famend for finishing the complete Talmud and Shulchan Aruch annually, and in addition recognized for his very ostentatious “court.” However most of all, he was infamous for his keen help of the proto-Zionist motion, Chovevei Zion, and for advocating settlement of the Holy Land.

It was this facet of his outlook that might seize the coronary heart of his grandson, Rabbi Yeshaya. Rejecting makes an attempt to get him to steer his personal Hasidic sect, Rabbi Yeshaya turned consumed by the concept of Jews resettling the Land of Israel. In 1914, he visited Ottoman-controlled Palestine, the place he was overcome by the headway made by the Zionist pioneers who had settled there. Regardless of his elevated Hasidic pedigree, he turned an lively member of the Zionist motion, which was then dominated by secular Jews brazenly hostile to spiritual observance.

With the outbreak of WWI, Rabbi Yeshaya was expelled from Palestine by the Turks, and so returned to Poland, the place he based the Polish department of Mizrachi, and enthusiastically promoted the immigration of Torah-observant settlers to Palestine. In 1920 he managed to return to Palestine with the intention of shifting there, despite the fact that his spouse initially refused to hitch him. In 1922, he presided over the founding of Hapoel HaMizrachi, a corporation dedicated to establishing agricultural settlements in Palestine for spiritual Zionists. His final dream was the relocation of a whole Hasidic sect from Poland to a brand new residence in Palestine, along with their Rebbe, in order that the stigma hooked up to Zionist immigration can be offset by the success of a mature Hasidic group who had immigrated en masse, with none depletion of their Torah observance or Hasidic id. With this in thoughts he set out on a mission again to Poland in 1924, and came across the Yabloner Rebbe and his group.

The influence of Rabbi Yeshaya’s go to to Jabłonna was electrical. He regaled his hosts with vivid descriptions of the Holy Land, and informed them about the alternatives out there to those that purchased land and created agricultural settlements. The Ottoman Turks have been gone, and the British have been now in management. In 1917, Nice Britain’s overseas secretary, Arthur J. Balfour, had dispatched a letter to Lord Rothschild in London, a letter that might later turn into referred to as the Balfour Declaration, which formally declared that the British authorities seen “with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people,” and would “use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object.”

Not since the days of Cyrus the Nice had a gentile energy urged Jews to return to their homeland, stated Rabbi Yeshaya. The declaration by Cyrus in historic Persia had resulted in the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem, and the reestablishment of Jewish supremacy in the Jews’ ancestral territory. Now, hundreds of years later, that very same alternative had arisen as soon as once more. How was it potential that spiritual Jews, who had so tenaciously clung to their heritage over millennia, would cede this chance to reprobate Jews who had discarded Torah and Judaism? This was an opportunity for a spiritual renewal of biblical proportions, stated Rabbi Yeshaya, and what larger approach was there to embrace this opportunity than by shifting from Poland as an entire group, young and old, wealthy and poor, and to relocate to the heaven-on-earth that was the Land of Israel.

Rabbi Yeshaya’s passionate presentation and infectious enthusiasm had a profound impact on the Yabloner Rebbe, and on many of his Hasidim. The Rebbe instantly referred to as collectively a gathering of all his followers, throughout which he forcefully advocated for the Yabloner sect to right away start getting ready to maneuver to Palestine. Initially, he advised, the much less well-off members of the sect would go along with him and lay the vital groundwork. The buy of the land and all the preliminary bills can be funded by the wealthier members of the group, who would finally be a part of the new settlement as soon as every part was arrange.

The response to this imaginative and prescient in Jabłonna was jubilant and euphoric. It was as if the Messianic period had arrived. Those that have been planning to journey with the Rebbe to Palestine started to organize for the journey, whereas the Rebbe himself feverishly fundraised amongst his followers, and from anybody who had an affiliation to the Kuzmir Hasidic teams. He additionally sought the blessing of senior Hasidic leaders, to spice up the idea of large-scale Hasidic immigration to Palestine and to reassure his personal followers that they have been doing the proper factor.

However the Yabloner Rebbe encountered sudden disapproval at a gathering with the esteemed chief of the Gur Hasidic sect, Rabbi Avraham Mordechai Alter. Referred to as the Gerrer Rebbe, Rabbi Alter presided over tens of hundreds of Hasidim in Poland—many of whom have been themselves in outstanding management positions—and he was extensively acknowledged as one of the principal leaders of European Orthodoxy. Though the predominant view amongst the Hasidic management was strongly anti-Zionist, Rabbi Alter was much less hostile in the direction of the new realities in Palestine, and was even supportive of Orthodox immigration, in marked distinction to many of the Hasidic rabbis at the time, who thought-about any motion by Orthodox Jews which is perhaps interpreted as tacit help for Zionist beliefs as catastrophic. However the assembly didn’t go as deliberate. After probing the Yabloner on each facet of the proposed undertaking, the Gerrer Rebbe dismissed it as a horrible concept.

“Don’t take any money or help from the secular Zionists,” he warned ominously, “they do not have your interests at heart and any financial dependence on them will be an utter disaster.”

Stunned by the harsh recommendation, the Yabloner Rebbe was nonetheless decided to hold out his plans. Inside months he was on a ship to Haifa with a pair of hundred Yabloner Hasidim, armed with money from a whole lot extra who needed to personal some holy land and to take part on this distinctive endeavor. Travelling with him on the boat was Rabbi Yisrael Eliezer Hopstein, who was en path to Palestine with a gaggle of Kozhnitz followers. The two rabbis determined to hitch forces and construct a Hasidic settlement collectively. They arrived in Palestine, the place they have been feted by Zionist officers. Though they have been provided land close to Tel Aviv, the Yabloner Rebbe most popular the mountains overlooking the Jezreel Valley near Haifa, and requested the Jewish Company and JNF to assist him buy land on this space.

The principal landowners in the Jezreel Valley have been the Sursuks of Beirut, one of the most outstanding Christian households in Lebanon. At one time that they had deliberate to construct a railway line throughout the valley, and the legendary British diplomat and Christian philosemite, Sir Laurence Oliphant, had labored exhausting to seek out buyers to fund the development, however the plans have been by no means realized. The land had been in the Sursuk household for generations, tenanted by Arab farmers who paid for the proper to work the land. However these farmers had no authorized rights to the land, and the British authorities confirmed that the Sursuks might promote land to JNF with out giving discover to Arab residents, who might be summarily evicted with out compensation.

With the assist of JNF and the legendary Zionist land purchaser, Yehoshua Hankin, a number of thousand acres have been bought, encompassing the Arab villages of Sheikh Abreik, El Harbaj and El Harchieh. The Arab residents got compensation to vacate the land, and the two Hasidic teams started constructing houses on a hill overlooking the Jezreel Valley and the Kishon River. The Yabloner Rebbe had determined to name his part of the village Nachalat Yaakov, after his late father, whereas the Kozhnitz neighborhood was referred to as Avodat Yisrael (“Labor of Israel”)—a reference to the founder of the Kozhnitz dynasty, R. Yisrael Hopstein, the Maggid of Kozienice, whose revealed work was additionally referred to as Avodat Yisrael.

The Rebbe reached a monetary association with JNF, who agreed to deal with the down cost for the land as a mortgage, to be repaid to the 90 households after two years, as soon as the settlement was up and operating and given that the households remained. The deposit amounted to 1 / 4 of all the monies the group had introduced with them from Poland, however each JNF and the Rebbe have been assured that enough funds remained to arrange the settlement, which they agreed can be a dairy farm.

Excessive-profile guests flocked to the new settlement, to see the exceptional phenomenon of Hasidic Zionist farmers for themselves. Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Kook, Ashkenazi chief rabbi of Palestine, visited the settlement collectively together with his Sephardic counterpart, R. Yaakov Meir, and a big delegation of Jerusalem rabbis. Zionist thinker, Ahad Ha’am, was one other notable customer throughout his final go to to Palestine. He was joined by the celebrated Zionist writers Yehoshua Ravnitzky and Chaim Bialik. The future president of Israel, Chaim Weizmann, even visited with Lord Balfour, whose 1917 declaration had been the catalyst which led to the British management of Palestine together with the new wave of immigrants after WWI.

At middle, the Yabloner Rebbe with Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Kook, Palestine, 1925. To the proper of Rabbi Kook is the Sephardic Chief Rabbi of British Mandate Palestine, Rabbi Yaakov Meir.

Weizmann, in his position as head of the Jewish Company, had been notably essential of Polish immigrants who refused to work the land, and notably the Orthodox, who set themselves up in new city enclaves, akin to Bnei Brak. His go to to the Yabloner Rebbe’s village and farm was intentionally promoted and extensively publicized to spotlight the Hasidic pioneer’s dedication to the Zionist best, in order that it’d act for instance to others.

***

Not everybody was proud of all the consideration the Yabloner Rebbe was getting. The secular Zionist motion had been operating intensive coaching packages for pioneer settlers for years, and have been horrified that the Zionist management was tripping over itself to accommodate untrained—and of their eyes, untrainable—Hasidic immigrants. David Ben-Gurion, who headed the highly effective Histadrut commerce union umbrella group, scathingly attacked those that have been selling the Hasidic farming group. “How dare these Hasidim from Jabłonna and Kozhnitz be allowed to immigrate to Eretz Yisrael and waste precious land,” he railed throughout his keynote speech to the Zionist Congress in Vienna in 1925, including, “if they must come, let them settle in Tel Aviv and leave the real work to people who know what they are doing.”

At middle, the Yabloner Rebbe seems in a Yiddish poster issued by JNF, late 1920s.

Ben-Gurion had some extent. The 90 households who had joined the Rebbe in Palestine have been comprised of all ages—together with aged grandparents, nursing moms, and little youngsters, and none of the grownup males had any coaching in development or dairy farming. Rose-tinted idealism would solely carry them to date; finally the group would wish to develop into self-supporting if it was to develop into the beacon of Orthodox agricultural immigration that its promoters hoped.

Acutely aware of the animosity the undertaking was producing, in 1926 JNF revealed a gushing pamphlet—“Hasidim Alu El Ha’aretz” (The Hasidim Have Gone as much as the Land). The brief pamphlet described the ethereal environment of spending Shabbat in the pioneer Hasidic village. Singing, dancing, spirituality—all in the setting of a utopian agrarian group dedicated to turning the barren panorama of the Holy Land right into a “land flowing with milk and honey.” The Yabloner Rebbe featured prominently in the pamphlet, and was described as the engine of the enterprise, working from the early morning till late at night time, targeted on the minutest particulars, and out there for each single one of his devoted followers, younger and previous, as they struggled to show the dream right into a actuality.

Tragically, nevertheless, no matter might have gone mistaken went incorrect. The former Arab tenant farmers refused to go away their land and villages, regardless of the compensation that they had acquired. There was heavy rain and the Kishon River overflowed, flooding the valley and turning it into an unmanageable swamp. The Hasidim made a useless try to empty the swamp, however to no avail. Quickly the water-sodden land was infested with mosquitoes, malaria broke out amongst the settlers, and a few of them succumbed to the illness and died.

The bridge that they had constructed over the Kishon River was wrecked by Bedouins who have been tenting regionally. The heavy rain continued, and the swamp grew. In the meantime, the Arabs killed one of the cows and threw it into the nicely, contaminating the recent water provide. Venomous snakes hidden amongst the ubiquitous thorns bit farm staff, killing multiple. Bedouin marauders murdered some of the newcomers. Cash was scarce, and the dairy farm appeared unable to make ends meet. Regardless of the preliminary enthusiastic ethical and monetary help from Yabloner Hasidim in Poland that continued after they arrived, funding from overseas slowly dwindled after which dried up utterly, and shortly the Hasidim have been actually ravenous.

In 1928, the Rebbe went to the United States, the place he visited numerous communities to boost cash for the settlement. Though he was warmly welcomed wherever he went, he had restricted success discovering philanthropic help, and returned empty handed. In desperation, the Yabloner Rebbe turned to the Zionist organizations for assist, however quickly found that they have been going via their very own challenges. Palestine was experiencing a critical recession, and monetary help from Zionist philanthropists in Europe and the United States had decreased. However, the Rebbe was unrelenting and wouldn’t let the mounting challenges destroy his dream, nor would he let the difficulties devastate the lives of all those that had joined him to understand it.

“We don’t have any money, and we are drowning in difficulties,” the Rebbe advised Zionist officers once they met, “but we have come this far, and we are not giving up now.”

The JNF and Jewish Company directors sat there stony confronted. This enterprise was not the propaganda car of 1925, they usually have been in no temper to waste time or cash on a venture that was by all measures an unmitigated catastrophe.

However the Yabloner Rebbe had a plan up his sleeve. He would organize for a talented group of Hapoel HaMizrachi spiritual Zionist farmworkers to be introduced in, he informed them, to coach and work alongside the Polish Hasidim. Every of the new farmworkers can be given their very own plot of land to construct a house, free of cost, along with some land that they might farm for themselves. The mountaintop village would transfer down into the valley, which might give farmers simpler entry to the farms, and the Rebbe would commerce extra land with JNF and the Jewish Company for meals and different provides.

“We may not have any money to give you,” he informed the Zionist officers, “but we have plenty of land—far more than we need to make our community successful. We can give JNF land in exchange for whatever is needed to turn our project into a success.”

Out of the blue the Yabloner Rebbe turned emotional, as he defined what was at stake. “Please don’t abandon us to our fate,” he pleaded, “my Hasidim are dying, and I need to save them!”

Finally the two sides reached an settlement. The Zionist directors insisted that the aged and infirm must return to Poland till every part was sorted out, as they have been a drain on assets. Secondly, the dairy farm would wish to shut and make means for orchards and crops. Thirdly, the land must be signed over to JNF possession, pending future developments. The Yabloner Rebbe reluctantly agreed to all of these circumstances.

In change, the Jewish Company offered the settlers with a stipend, whereas JNF took care of collected money owed. The two Hasidic branches of the settlement have been mixed right into a single entity referred to as Kfar Hasidim (Village of Hasidim), they usually have been additionally joined by a 3rd group—spiritual Zionists from Germany and Holland who had educated at Hachshara camps in Europe, recruited to vary the farming group’s fortunes for the higher.

In Might 1930 work was completed on a paved street connecting Kfar Hasidim to the Haifa-Nazareth freeway. The Rebbe instantly organized for these Hasidim who weren’t engaged on the farms to acquire jobs in Haifa, and a commuter bus was organized to select them up and drop them again every day—a exceptional innovation for the time.

Sadly, though issues had improved for residents of Kfar Hasidim, the Yabloner Rebbe quickly discovered himself in the midst of a monetary scandal. With the state of affairs for Jews in Poland quickly deteriorating, particularly after 1935, Hasidim from Jabłonna started turning up in Palestine, anticipating to take possession of the plots of land that they had paid for over a decade earlier. Since the Yabloner Rebbe was unable to offer them any land nor refund their cash, they accused him of being a thief. He begged them to know that their land had been used to assist the settlement survive, however of their eyes the rebbe was a criminal who had fraudulently taken their cash and never given them what he promised in return.

After the outbreak of the Arab Revolt in 1936, and the growing violence towards Jews in Palestine, longtime residents of Kfar Hasidim additionally demanded cash from the rebbe in order that they might return to their households in Poland. However he had no cash for them both. Kfar Hasidim was simply starting to pay for itself; there was no cash to spare. With excellent money owed to JNF and the Jewish Company and the menace that they might repossess land and houses in Kfar Hasidim, whereas at the similar time battling accusations of theft from his personal followers, the Yabloner Rebbe traveled to the United States in 1938 to see if he might curiosity some rich Zionist Jews to supply him monetary help. He wouldn’t return to Kfar Hasidim for over 40 years.

***

The rebbe arrived in New York, and moved in together with his niece, Arella Mezrich, daughter of his sister Rivka Grafstein, who had tragically died in 1931 after being bitten by a snake. Arella was raised in Kfar Hasidim, however some years earlier had determined to go away for the United States. In 1935 she arrived in New York, and shortly afterwards married Mordechai Mezrich, an immigrant from Russia. The Mezrich household had a bag-manufacturing enterprise based mostly on the East Coast, and have been reasonably affluent. The Yabloner Rebbe used the Mezrich residence as his base, and commenced visiting Orthodox communities sympathetic to the Zionist trigger to generate help for the enlargement of Kfar Hasidim. To broaden his attraction, he partnered with the Federation of Polish Jews in America, a corporation based in 1908 to help Polish Jews who had settled there, however which extra just lately had began to offer aid for Polish Jews in misery. By the late 1930s anti-Semitism in Poland had reached a brand new peak, absolutely enabled by the Polish authorities by way of laws and in addition by a deliberate coverage of refusing to reign in anti-Jewish violence. This example motivated the federation to supply their full help for the Rebbe’s plans to deliver Polish Jews to Palestine.

In July 1939, the New York Every day Information reported the buy of 400 acres of land in Palestine by the federation for the settlement of 500 Jewish households from Poland. The report declared that the “colonists” who would transfer to Palestine from Poland can be “extended credit for building houses and other necessities,” and added that the venture was “under the direction of Rabbi Ezekiel Taub of Palestine,” assisted by a particular committee of the federation.

Tragically, the formidable plans by no means had the probability to materialize. Two months later the German military marched into Poland, and the Yabloner Rebbe now discovered himself caught in the United States as a struggle refugee. He instantly deserted his fundraising marketing campaign and tried to volunteer for the conflict effort. At first he tried to hitch the military and the navy, however they weren’t notably curious about the concept of conscripting a Polish Hasidic Jew in his mid-40s. Undaunted by this rejection, the Rebbe started to search for development work in the military-supplies business that was shortly gathering tempo throughout the early months of the warfare because of the Lend-Lease Act, which approved the switch of arms and protection supplies to “the government of any country whose defense the President deem[ed] vital to the defense of the United States.”

As the warfare in Europe escalated, the Yabloner Rebbe moved out west, the place he discovered work in California shipyards. In 1942, The Jewish Floridian reported that the Rebbe was working as a riveter at a shipyard in San Francisco. A couple of months later the similar newspaper reported that he had moved to Los Angeles, the place he had discovered work as a designing engineer in one other shipyard. “The Rebbe solves the problem of observing the Sabbaths without losing hours,” the paper reported, “by working overtime on weekdays.”

In June 1942, the BBC broadcast a report claiming that over 700,000 Polish Jews had been intentionally and systematically exterminated by the Nazis. By November American newspapers had confirmed the slaughter however revealed that the BBC had underestimated the true magnitude of the genocide. Tens of millions of European Jews had been murdered by the Nazis, they reported, and the grisly rumors that had been rising from the European continent for over a yr have been all true. These rising particulars of the Holocaust had been reliably relayed to the press by way of Gerhart Riegner, the World Jewish Congress consultant in Switzerland, who despatched a collection of communications to Rabbi Stephen Clever via the U.S. State Division. Initially the State Division tried to suppress the info, which officers thought-about exaggerated and sensationalist, however after conducting their very own unbiased investigation the info was lastly launched to the public, and the full horror of the Holocaust was confirmed.

Jewish communities in Allied nations throughout the world held rallies, prayer days and vigils, and Wednesday, Dec. 2, 1942, was declared a world day of mourning. Jews who had household in Nazi-controlled nations, or in nations with ties to Nazi Germany, have been panic stricken, and throughout the world they desperately lobbied the Allied management to aim one thing—something!—that might deliver the relentless killing to a halt. However in addition to empty declarations, and meaningless platitudes, nothing was completed, and the slaughter continued.

In January 1944, beneath strain from his Jewish-born secretary of the Treasury, Henry Morgenthau, President Roosevelt withdrew the State Division from any position referring to the Nazi homicide of Jews, and as an alternative he created the Conflict Refugee Board, beneath his private authority, to deal with the challenge. In November 1944, the board revealed a one-page announcement that confirmed each the existence of the sprawling operational dying facility at Auschwitz-Birkenau and the extermination of the overwhelming majority of European Jewry.

For Polish-born Jews the board report was a devastating bombshell. It substantiated as soon as and for all what that they had most feared, specifically that each one the Jews of Poland have been lifeless—gassed, shot, burned—murdered like animals in demise camps and killing fields. Earlier than the struggle Poland had been residence to the most vibrant and most populous Jewish group in the world. Now that group was gone, worn out.

For the Yabloner Rebbe, erstwhile rabbi of Jabłonna close to Warsaw, the rising information of the Holocaust got here as a double blow. In addition to the undeniable fact that the whole Jabłonna group had been obliterated together with the relaxation of Polish Jewry, there have been these—together with the prolonged households of many of the Kfar Hasidim pioneers—whom he had despatched again from Palestine to Poland, as a result of they served no helpful objective in the farming settlement and have been a pointless drain on its assets. This had been a non-negotiable situation for the continued involvement of JNF and the Jewish Company with the Hasidic settlement, and nevertheless reluctant the Rebbe might have been to go together with it, he had allowed it to occur. In his personal thoughts the Rebbe started to consider that the deaths of those that had gone again to Poland have been his fault.

Declaration of Intention, 1942.

The ache was overwhelming. And furthermore, the place was God in all this? Did He even exist? If He did, was it not crystal clear that He had completely deserted the Yabloner Rebbe? So many individuals’s lives had been misplaced or devastated—and he, Yechezkel Taub, had been the agent of their destruction. His complete Hasidic sect had been worn out, and people who remained alive in Kfar Hasidim despised him for his position in wrecking their lives.

In late 1944, as the full weight of his distressing predicament turned clear, and his anger at God grew and stored on rising, the Yabloner Rebbe selected a drastic course of motion. With out Hasidim, he determined to himself, he was not a rebbe—a rebbe has to have Hasidim, and his Hasidim have been gone. In the meantime, his Kfar Hasidim undertaking in Palestine was an utter failure—whoever remained there definitely didn’t want him, and it was greater than possible that they didn’t need him both. The neatest thing for him to do, he concluded, can be to vanish into oblivion in the United States of America, like hundreds of thousands of different faceless immigrants who had carried out the similar.

And identical to that, at some point, Rabbi Yechezkel Taub—the revered Yabloner Rebbe, scion of the Kuzmir Hasidic dynasty, at one time chief of hundreds of devoted followers, and trailblazing Orthodox Zionist settler—eliminated his yarmulke, reduce off his sidelocks, shaved off his beard, quietly modified his identify, and filed immigration papers to turn out to be a naturalized citizen of the United States.

On Aug. 1, 1945, two non-Jewish acquaintances, Margaret Depew, a lodge manageress, and Albert Crapo, a rigger, each vouched that that they had recognized “Chaskiel Taub” since December 1944 as a “man of good moral character” after which witnessed him take the oath of allegiance, after which he was confirmed as a U.S. citizen. His naturalization papers referred to him as “George Ezekiel Taub Nagel.” He prevented all contact with the Jewish group of Los Angeles, and severed all contact with Kfar Hasidim, apart from secretive communications together with his household, who referred to him by the codename “Uncle Dod,” combining the English and Hebrew phrases for uncle. He stopped retaining kosher, and in addition stopped observing Shabbat and festivals, together with Yom Kippur. He deserted the research of Torah or any spiritual texts, and virtually by no means visited a synagogue. For all intents and functions, the Yabloner Rebbe was no extra, changed by an urbane Polish immigrant with slicked-back hair and a tragic, faraway look in his eyes.

***

With WWII over, the shipyard not wanted George Nagel, however his a few years working in development and engineering wouldn’t go to waste. Southern California was in the midst of an enormous development growth, notably in the San Fernando Valley adjoining to Los Angeles. The small suburban communities which had beforehand dotted the valley panorama abruptly blossomed and bloomed, quickly overtaking the citrus orchards and farms that had dominated the space throughout the early many years of the 20th century. Between the ever-expanding protection, area, and plane industries situated in Southern California, there was a continuing provide of new job alternatives, and these industries in flip attracted electronics corporations, the atomic power business, and of course corporations specializing in analysis and improvement. Add to all these the requirement for providers catering to the new residents and their households, with all the related jobs—and the want for brand spanking new housing was pressing, and assembly that want might be extraordinarily worthwhile.

George Nagel instantly seized his alternative. He borrowed cash to purchase plots of land, on which he constructed the sort of modest houses that have been turning into ubiquitous throughout the valley. His information of development had its origins in the troublesome, hands-on work he had supervised throughout the early years at Kfar Hasidim, and this expertise ensured that his improvement tasks have been all profitable, shortly making him a rich man with an ever-expanding empire of improvement tasks.

Sometimes he would companion on a venture with a number of of the enterprising group of Orthodox Jewish Holocaust survivors who had landed in the Fairfax space of Los Angeles, notably the Kornwasser brothers, Mottel and Yankel. The Kornwassers have been initially from Sosnowiec in Poland, and had misplaced their complete households in the Holocaust. Some of the survivors, like the Kornwassers, knew who George actually was, however at his request they stored his id a intently guarded secret.

George Nagel in Los Angeles, 1950s.

One other one of George’s pals in the strictly Orthodox group was Yidel Rottenberg, son of the Kossonye Rebbe of Kleinwardein, Rabbi Moshe Shmuel Rottenberg, who immigrated to the United States from Hungary in the early 1930s, and moved to Los Angeles in 1937 to take benefit of the delicate local weather, which alleviated the signs of his persistent bronchial asthma. Yidel was a shochet (ritual slaughterer), and an enthralling conversationalist. His brother Rabbi Ephraim Asher Rottenberg presided over a tiny Hasidic synagogue in Fairfax, however Yidel frequented Rabbi Yitzchak Pinchas Ginsburg’s synagogue, which was shut by. He inspired George to hitch him there, and on uncommon events George relented and got here to the shul—however solely given that nobody can be informed who he actually was.

Honestly, nobody gave him a second look. He was simply one other misplaced soul of European origin who had someway landed in Los Angeles, not spiritual however craving for an occasional reference to the conventional Jewish life of their youth. There have been dozens of such guests at the tiny Fairfax synagogues all the time, and nobody pried into their backgrounds or their present conditions; in any case, everybody had a lot of their very own baggage to be involved with.

When the Sadiger-Przemyśl Rebbe, Rabbi Mordechai Sholom Yosef Friedman, visited Los Angeles in the 1950s, he presided over a gathering of native Los Angeles Hasidim one Saturday night time at Rabbi Ginsburg’s synagogue, and Yidel Rottenberg persuaded George to attend. At the time, Rabbi Friedman was one of the foremost Hasidic rabbinic personalities in the world, a prestigious chief from a prestigious dynasty, and a go to from somebody of his caliber was extraordinarily uncommon.

There was fairly a crowd at Rabbi Ginsburg’s synagogue to share in the Rebbe’s post-Shabbat meal—thought-about a particular privilege in Hasidic circles—however there weren’t tons of of individuals, as there would definitely have been in New York, or in Europe earlier than the conflict, the place there may even have been hundreds. Los Angeles had no actual Hasidim, only a small handful of Holocaust survivors who had been introduced up Hasidic, and who have been nostalgic for a style of their youth. The Sadiger-Przemyśl Rebbe went by way of the motions for them, however some of those that got here have been very dissatisfied.

“You call this a tisch?” one of them stated to his pal, inside earshot of George and Yidel.

“This is a joke. A shadow of what a real tisch should look like,” he continued, “I remember the tisch of the Yabloner Rebbe—my father took me to one when I was a child. Now, that was a real tisch, with proper singing, and a real spiritual atmosphere that uplifted everyone there. Not like this one.” And with that he acquired up and left.

Little did the man know that instantly throughout the desk from the place he had been sitting, listening to each phrase, was the Yabloner Rebbe himself—the very man who had impressed him and a whole lot of others all these years in the past—now a nondescript, cleanshaven, nonobservant Jew, who constructed low cost houses in the valley. However George stated nothing, and neither did Yidel Rottenberg.

***

The California financial system took a nosedive in the late 1960s, and unemployment started to climb. Financial institution deregulation had modified the dynamics for savings-and-loan establishments. East Coast and Midwest cash, which had beforehand flowed generously in California’s course in consequence of larger rates of interest for financial savings in California, now stayed at residence, as the rates of interest in New York and Chicago started to match these in California. Financial institution loans have been consequently much less available for real-estate speculators. The housing growth was slowing down.

A pair of years earlier, George had determined to spend money on an house complicated improvement challenge, which was fairly an improve from his earlier give attention to subdividing small tons to construct low cost single-family houses. As the financial system deteriorated, George found he was in over his head. Substandard contractors didn’t meet deadlines, and when the flats have been lastly prepared they seemed horrible and didn’t promote. Ultimately the banks foreclosed and took possession of the flats. George was virtually utterly worn out financially. All of the sudden, with none warning, George was taken unwell and rushed to hospital. It took weeks for him to be correctly recognized and handled. In his 70s, and acutely conscious that each his father and paternal grandfather had died younger, he didn’t consider he would ever make it out of the hospital alive.

As he lay sick in hospital, George was repeatedly visited by his great-nephew, Ehud Yonay. Ehud was the grandson of his older sister, Michal Rachel, whose daughter Erella had married Ehud’s father, Mordechai, the rebellious son of an ultra-Orthodox Russian Jewish pioneer who had joined the Kfar Hasidim settlement quickly after it was based. The very secular Mordechai was thought-about scandalous by the religious Hasidim of Kfar Hasidim. His son Ehud, who was additionally not observant, had moved to California after his military service to turn into a journalist for California Magazine. It was in California that Ehud met his great-uncle for the first time. They spent quite a bit of time collectively, turning into very shut. As quickly as Ehud heard that George was in hospital, he rushed over to see him. As the weeks glided by, Ehud dropped in frequently to spend time with George in an effort to cheer him up.

“Why don’t you come back to Israel?” he requested George. “What are you still doing here in America by yourself, with no family?”

“I can’t go back,” George replied. “I messed up their lives, and they all think I stole their money. There’s no way I could ever go back. Forget it. That part of my life is done.”

“How about you just come back for a visit?” Ehud instructed.

George checked out his nephew. “I’ll think about it,” he stated.

However Ehud wouldn’t relent. The matter stored arising. Nobody cared about the previous, Ehud maintained—life had moved on. However George wasn’t satisfied. After many years of self-imposed exile, he simply couldn’t see himself returning to Kfar Hasidim, the supply of a lot painful anguish and trauma.

“So what are you going to do if you get better and get out of the hospital?” requested Ehud.

“I’m not getting better so fast,” stated George, “and maybe I’ll never get out—except in a box.”

“Don’t be so morbid! Don’t be silly! What if you do get better? Will you go back into business?”

“Never!” stated George emphatically.

“Then what?” The journalist in Ehud couldn’t depart a query unanswered.

“I think I want to go to college and study psychology.”

Ehud laughed. “Are you kidding? College? Psychology? Why don’t you just come home to Israel?”

George sighed. “All my life I’ve been interested in studying psychology. I’ve got just about enough money to live, so if I don’t die in hospital I’m going to apply to university and study psychology. That’s what I want to do.”

George seemed throughout at Ehud, his face resolute and decided. Ehud shrugged his shoulders. The concept appeared completely preposterous. However as quickly as George was discharged from hospital he utilized to San Fernando Valley State School, did his admissions interviews, and enrolled as a psychology undergraduate. Relatively than lease an condominium in Northridge, close to the school campus, he opted to reside in the dorms with all the college students.

George was in his component; it was as if he had been reborn. His sole curiosity was studying, and he spent most of his time in the library—studying, writing, researching. He nonetheless retained a number of funding properties, by means of which he was capable of modestly help himself, however he refused to become involved in any business-related actions—that half of his life was over. He had come to the realization that daily he had left was valuable, and he wasn’t going to waste any of his remaining time making an attempt to generate profits, which he realized he didn’t want and would by no means use.

Commencement, 1975.

Earlier than lengthy George had turn into a minor movie star at the school, which in 1972 was renamed California State College Northridge (CSUN). Newspapers reported on the veteran scholar dorming alongside anti-war protesting college students, many of whom adopted him as a surrogate grandfather. George was a very good listener, and all the time glad to supply recommendation—and numerous college students beat a path to his door. However none of them knew who George actually was. He had stripped his backstory to the most elementary info in order that no questions have been requested. He informed everybody that he had arrived in the United States by way of Palestine simply earlier than WWII—a poor refugee with no spouse or youngsters, and no cash or prospects. He was the embodiment of the American Dream—he had develop into a profitable businessman and now needed to spend the the rest of his life learning, catching up on all the time he had misplaced in his youthful years, educating himself in topics that had all the time him, however for which he had by no means had the time.

The L.A. Occasions, Nov. 13, 1972.

George was joined at CSUN by his younger “relative,” Joseph Chudy, nephew by marriage of his niece Arella Mezrich. The Chudy household lived in California, having moved there in the 1940s, they usually handled George like household. Joseph was notably near George, however he, too, knew nothing about the previous man’s true background. The solely one that knew something about the distinctive historical past of the Yabloner Rebbe and his alter ego, George Nagel, was his great-nephew, Ehud.

In 1975, George T. Nagel graduated with a bachelor’s in psychology. It was a landmark occasion, and Ehud believed that with the schooling bug out of his system, George would lastly agree to return again to Kfar Hasidim. Instantly after the commencement, Ehud introduced up the topic once more. It was time to go to Israel. Unexpectedly, George was extra open to the concept than ever earlier than, and he promised Ehud that he would go to Kfar Hasidim sooner or later very quickly.

However he was nonetheless anxious. “What will I do if they all still hate me? If they treat me with contempt? If they still think I’m a thief!” he requested Ehud.

“What’s the big deal?” Ehud replied. “If you’re not comfortable in Kfar Hasidim, you’ll take a taxi to Haifa, stay in a hotel, and take the next flight back to L.A.”

George shook his head. He nonetheless wasn’t positive.

“I’m not moving back—you know that,” he stated.

Ehud smiled. “We’ll see.”

***

George was not fairly prepared but. He had determined to go for a grasp’s diploma, however relatively than attend courses and take exams, he contributed volunteer hours at a drug-rehabilitation facility, the place he endorsed recovering drug addicts from the margins of society. He rigorously documented every case, providing his candid account of his encounters and his reflections. The remaining outcome was a e-book—Paradise Cove—They Escaped the Cuckoo’s Nest—a reference to the a number of Academy Award-winning film of 1975, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. In the film, a gaggle of sufferers at a psychological well being facility are confined there by worry and intimidation. In George’s dissertation, he eases individuals out of their psychological jails and introduces them again into society.

George had come full circle. Instantly he was again in his position as a Hasidic Rebbe, even when he didn’t understand it himself. He was serving to individuals to enhance their lives by therapeutic them, educating them, and bringing the greatest out in them. On this guise he was not George Nagel, the immigrant businessman escaping from his depressing previous; as an alternative he was the Yabloner Rebbe, giving individuals with no hope a greater imaginative and prescient of the future.

It was 1978, and he was able to return to Kfar Hasidim. He informed Ehud that he had booked a roundtrip ticket to Israel, and the dates. Quietly, with out letting George know, Ehud knowledgeable his mom that her uncle was coming again.

The day arrived, and George landed at Ben-Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv. A automotive was ready to select him up for the one-and-a-half-hour journey to Kfar Hasidim. The automotive drove by way of the entrance of the village and stopped at the nondescript home on Rechov Hameyasdim the place George’s niece Erella lived together with her husband, Mordechai. He hadn’t seen her for 40 years.

Erella ran over to George and hugged him. “Welcome home, Uncle!” she bubbled, “we have a surprise for you.”

“A surprise?” He wasn’t positive if he favored the concept of a shock.

“Yes,” she replied, “but we need to drive up the road to the social hall. There are a few people there who are waiting to meet you.”

They arrived at the corridor, which was full of lots of of individuals who had gathered to satisfy the man who had put Kfar Hasidim on the map. Young and old, spiritual and secular—everybody related to the village was there. A seat at the entrance was left empty for George, and as a hush descended he slowly made his method towards his seat and sat down beneath the giant welcome signal that adorned the entrance wall. An aged man stood up and turned in the direction of George.

“Rebbe, do you remember me?” he requested.

George checked out him, making an attempt to determine who he was.

“I’m not sure,” he stated. “Are you Chaimke? Chaimke Geldfarb?”

Chaimke smiled. “Yes, Rebbe, it’s me.” His voice was hoarse with emotion. “On behalf of all the residents of our Kfar, I want to welcome you back home. You were probably nervous to come here. You probably think we are angry with you. You probably think that because you brought us here from Poland, away from our homes, away from our families, to build your dream, not ours. And then it all went wrong, so you think we are angry that it all went wrong. But Rebbe, if that’s what you think, you’re mistaken. Because Rebbe—you saved our lives—if it were not for you, we would all have been killed by the Nazis.”

“Look over there …” Chaimke pointed towards a gaggle of individuals in the center of the corridor. “That’s my son with his wife and children, and next to him my two daughters with their husbands and children. My parents, uncles, aunts, brothers, sisters, and their children—all murdered by the Nazis. But we came with you, Rebbe. We built this place. We founded this village. We survived. And you were the one who saved our lives. And for that we thank you. Thank you for our lives, and for the lives of our children and grandchildren. We can never thank you enough.”

Chaimke sat down, and an previous lady rose to talk.

“Rebbe, do you remember me?”

George seemed rigorously at her.

“Sheindel, is that you?”

“Sheindel, yes, but now they call me Shoshana.”

Sheindel had a lump in her throat as she spoke, and she or he struggled to get the phrases out. “Rebbe, Rebbe, where have you been for so many years? We missed you! We needed you! Without you we would all be dead, and we would not have had our beautiful lives in our beautiful Israel. Why did you leave? Everything turned out OK in the end. Look at us, look at how lucky we are. We escaped from the murderers and built our own homes in God’s promised land. You said we could do it, and we did it.”

Sheindel started weeping. Tears flowed down her cheeks, as her daughter subsequent to her put an arm round her shoulder.

“Rebbe, come home,” Sheindel sobbed, “you’ve been gone for far too long. It’s time to come home.”

There was lifeless silence, apart from Sheindel’s muffled sobs. George seemed round the corridor. Everybody was taking a look at him. He seemed down at his palms, after which at the flooring. Slowly he acquired to his ft.

“My friends, my dear, dear friends,” he started, “I am so moved by this warm welcome. I don’t have very much to say. I have missed this place and all of you so much for all these years. I never understood how much this place meant to me, and how much I meant to you—until now. I never thought about what you just said. I never thought about the fact that I saved your lives, only about all the lives that were lost. I never thought about what I gave you, only about what I took away from you. But now it’s all become clear.”

He paused for a couple of seconds. You might have heard a pin drop. Then George whispered, slowly, intentionally, “It’s time. I’m ready. I’m coming home. I’m ready. I’m coming home,” and he sat down.

There was a second of silence, and all of a sudden the corridor erupted in applause. Everybody rose to their ft and applauded. It went on and on, as George made his approach by way of the corridor and shook everybody’s hand, smiling broadly. The Yabloner Rebbe had returned to Kfar Hasidim, and now he was going to maneuver again.

George flew again to Los Angeles to wrap up his affairs and put together for the transfer to Israel. However sorting every little thing out took him longer than anticipated. Though he had needed to complete his grasp’s at CSUN, he quickly realized that this was not going to occur, and that he must make the transfer to Israel earlier than he turned too previous. Over the subsequent couple of years George visited Israel for prolonged durations, till, in November 1981, he gave away his previous couple of possessions and flew off to Israel to settle there for good. He had simply turned 86.

After greater than 40 years away, he was lastly again dwelling in Kfar Hasidim, liked and valued. It was at this level that George Nagel returned to his roots, altering his identify again to Yechezkel Taub. Furthermore, he turned the revered Yabloner Rebbe as soon as once more. He grew again his beard and sidelocks, his yarmulke returned, and so did his spiritual observance. The Rebbe was given a seat at the entrance of the Kfar Hasidim synagogue, the place he prayed commonly, and a number of other occasions every week teams of keen kids would collect on a patch of land outdoors the home by which the Rebbe lived, and he taught them Torah, and advised them tales of their heritage in the Hasidic custom.

Only a few individuals knew about his return to Israel, and honestly, few would have cared. The pioneering challenges of Palestine in the 1920s and ’30s have been a distant reminiscence, changed by the flourishing and vibrant State of Israel. The Yabloner Rebbe was a relic of the troublesome previous greatest left forgotten, of curiosity to nobody outdoors his circle of relatives and the residents of Kfar Hasidim.

Even Kfar Hasidim had modified considerably since these early days, with the addition of a brand new ultra-Orthodox neighborhood—Kfar Hasidim Guess—house to an internationally famend yeshiva, paradoxically of the non-Hasidic Lithuanian persuasion. However the lack of curiosity in his return to Israel didn’t hassle the Rebbe in any respect. He was not serious about attracting consideration to himself. After greater than 4 many years dwelling underneath a pseudonym in Los Angeles, any publicity would solely have dredged up pointless consideration, and probably disagreeable tales and dormant resentments.

In early 1986, the Rebbe started to weaken and decline, and he handed away peacefully on Might 22. He was 90 years previous. The funeral was modest, attended by the residents of Kfar Hasidim, with a low-key service. The Rebbe was buried in the coronary heart of the cemetery, amongst the graves of all those that had adopted him from Europe to create a Hasidic settlement in Eretz Yisrael over 60 years earlier. Though issues had not turned out fairly as deliberate, collectively that they had dared to dream, and to persevere. Kfar Hasidim had endured regardless of the many hardships and challenges, and regardless of the absence of its foremost activist and chief for therefore a few years. However he had ended his life of their midst, closing the circle that had begun in 1924.

The Rebbe’s gravestone was put in inside a month of his burial, as is the customized in Israel. The inscription targeted on the Rebbe’s distinguished lineage and his single biggest achievement:

Right here lies Grand Rabbi Yechezkel Taub, the ‘Rebbe of Yablona,’ son of Grand Rabbi Yaakov Taub. Final scion of the dynasty that started with Grand Rabbi Yechezkel of Kuzmir, disciple of the ‘Seer of Lublin’ … in 5685 he led his Hasidim as much as Eretz Yisrael the place he redeemed the lands of Harbaj, Harchieh and Sheikh Abreik. Founder of Nachalat Yaakov, later referred to as Kfar Hasidim.

His exceptional trajectory from revered Polish Hasidic chief, to Zionist pioneer, to reviled failure, to conflict refugee, to shipyard employee, to profitable real-estate developer, to bankrupcy, to geriatric school scholar, and again to his roots as a revered Hasidic Rebbe, is unquestionably one of the most astonishing Jewish tales of the trendy period.

***

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