Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The End of an Era: The Sulitzer Rebbe – An Appreciation by Rabbi Yair Hoffman

Five Towns Jewish Times   The entire community is mourning the passing this past Tuesday night of one of the founders and pioneers of the Torah community in Far Rockaway.  Rav Shmuel Shmelka Rubin, the Sulitzer Rebbe, represented to all who knew him, the authentic bearer of the Chassidishe Yiddishkeit of Europe.

Rav Rubin zt”l was born in 1925, and was a scion of the Ropshitzer dynasty of Chassidus, descendants of Rav Naftoli Tzvi Horowitz of Ropshitz.  Rav Naftoli Tzvi was a contemporary of the author of the famed Nesivos HaMishpat on Choshen Mishpat, and studied with him.  Rav Naftoli Tzvi was the author of the Zera Kodesh, a work that inspired those who learned it to reach remarkable heights in Dveikus Bashem.

“What defined him?”  He came to Far Rockaway when only the White Shul was here,” remarked Rabbi Amnon Nissan, a congregant.  “He remained true to his Chassidish mesorah – unwavering.”[...]

The neighborhood of Far Rockaway soon deteriorated to the point where people started to move to Lawrence and beyond.  This greatly grieved the Rebbe personally and affected the attendance of the shul as well. The Rebbe thought hard and invented the term “West Lawrence.”  This was his brainchild.

Eventually, people did stop moving, but he went a step further.  He assured them that things will change and the market would rise again.  The Rebbe’s words were prescient.  Far Rockaway became one of  most expensive neighborhoods in New York.  Much of this was on account of his wisdom.    In spite of the neighborhood’s initial decline, those that did move away walked to shul on Shabbos.  Sometimes it would even be a half hour or an hour walk.  They did this to attend the Kehilas Yaakov shul of Rav Shmuel Rubin zt”l [...]

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