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Ben Zion Halberstam (The First)

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File:Kedishas tzion p.gif

Grand Rabbi Ben Zion Halberstam, (1874–1941), was born in Bikofsk in 1874 to his father Grand Rabbi Shlomo Halberstam (1847–1905) of Bobov. At the age of thirty-one he succeeded his father as the second Rebbe of Bobov.

He was a scion of the Divrei Chaim of Sanz (1798–1876). He wrote a commentary on the Torah called Kedushas Tzion. Rabbi Ben Zion was murdered by the Nazis in 1941, and was succeeded by his son Rabbi Shlomo Halberstam (1907–2000), who rebuilt Bobov in the United States.

Murdered by the Nazis

On June 22, 1941 the Germans launched an intense attack against the Russians over the San River. In short order the Germans conquered all of Eastern Poland and large swaths of Russian territory. Thousands and thousands of Jews became subject to German authority because of this conquest. They too suffered the decrees and the liquidations; they were also part of the Nazi master plan to destroy all the Jews.

The metropolis of Lvov, where the Rebbe then lived, also fell under Nazi control in July, 1941. The Rebbe’s residence was in the home of Eliyahu Avigdor Brinner, who was one of his Hasidim. For about a month the Rebbe hid in a room whose door was secretly blocked by a large bookcase. But a friend convinced him to come out of hiding, on the theory that the Germans were harsher to people who were found hiding. The friend also argued that the Germans would honor the Rebbe’s official papers that declared he was a foreign resident. The Rebbe didn’t accept these arguments at first, but ultimately acquiesced. On Friday, July 25, Parshas Matos-Masei, on Rosh Chodesh Av, he left his place of hiding and established himself openly in a separate room in the apartment.

As July 25 approached, an unusual bustle was noticed among the Ukrainian police in the city. Jews tried not to step outside. Early in the morning of July 25, groups of peasants from nearby villages began to flow into Lvov. They assembled on the premises of police stations; set out from there to the streets accompanied by Ukrainian policemen, and assaulted any Jew whom they encountered with clubs, knives and axes. Groups of Jews were taken to the Jewish cemetery and murdered brutally. A roundup of Jews from their homes, coupled with looting, began in the afternoon. The proportion of Jewish intellectuals was high. Ukrainian police circulated in groups of five and consulted prepared lists. The pogrom was known as the "Petliura Days" in commemoration of Symon (Semyen) Petliura, the Ukrainian President and military leader, a notorious anti-Semite, who had organized massive pogroms (900 pogroms of which about 40% were perpetrated by the forces led by Petliura) against Jews in 1919 and was killed by a Jewish anarchist (Sholom Schwartzbard) in revenge for the murder of fifteen members of his family, on a Street in Paris in 1926, who calmly handed over his weapon to the police, saying "You can arrest me, I've killed a murderer", and was acquitted by a Paris court. The Germans had authorized the Ukrainians to celebrate this anniversary with a murderous rampage against the Jews. For three days, Ukrainian mobs went on a rampage through the Jewish districts of Lvov. They took groups of Jews to the Jewish cemetery and to Lunecki prison and shot them. The Ukrainian mobs decided that they would concentrate on Jews who were prestigious, wealthy and distinguished. Eliyahu Avigdor’s name was on this list because of his wealth and status.

At about 6 p.m. that very day, while the Rebbe was removing his Rabbeinu Tam's Tefillin, the door opened suddenly and a Ukrainian youth entered together with the building’s gentile superintendent. The youth carried a red whip with the insignia of the Symon Petliura bands. The two were conducting a search of Mr. Brinner’s house.

The youth took one look at the Rebbe and immediately realized that this was a distinguished personage. He ordered the Rebbe to accompany him. The Rebbe's youngest son, Moshe Aaron, saw his father being led away, and pleaded to come along to help his father. At first the Ukrainian youth objected, but then he acceded and took along Moshe Aaron.

They were joined on the street corner by other distinguished prisoners from other areas in the city. Soldiers stood guard to prevent escape. When the number of captives reached a hundred, the guards arranged them in a row, three abreast, and ordered them to march. The Rebbe was too weak to keep up with the rapid pace and moved to the back. The guards beat him with their batons and demanded that he hurry up. Eliyahu Avigdor held one of his hands and his son Moshe Aaron held the other until they reached Gestapo headquarters at Polczinski 4. An eye-witness writes that "he saw from his window how the Rebbe, dressed in his Sabbath clothing was attacked by the soldiers. The cruel Ukrainians beat him on his head with their rifle-butts and his yarmulke fell to the ground. From time to time the Rebbe bent over and stooped to pick it up, and they beat him even more." (Eilah Azkerah by Naftoli Eherenberg, V. 1, ed., page 141)

On Shabbos there was another action. The captives this time included Mr. Itche Leser, who was a Bobover Hasid, and three sons-in-law of the Rebbe who had been hiding in Mr. Leser’s house; they were, Rabbi Yecheskel Halberstam (son of Rabbi Yeshayale Tchechoiver), Rabbi Moshe Stempel and Rabbi Shlome Rubin. All four were brought to the Gestapo building.

The entire household, led by the Rebbe's son Rabbi Shlome, moved heaven and earth to secure the release of the prisoners, and offered huge bribes. But the gezeira (Heavenly decree) had been issued, and all efforts were to no avail.

After three days, on Monday Parshas Devarim, Dalet Av (July 28); four weeks after the Germans entered Lemberg; the Jewish captives were shot in the Yanover forest behind the city. 20,000 Jews were shot that day, the Rebbe, his son and his three sons-in-law included.

Genealogy

Rabbi Ben Zion Halberstam married his cousin, Rebbetzin Chaya Freidel Halberstam, daughter of Rabbi Shalom Eliezer of Ratzfert who was a son of the Divrei Chaim of Sanz. Together they had eleven children:

1) Devorah Leah Halberstam married her cousin, Yaakov Yisrael Twerski from Hornistipol (1898-1973). They had the following children:

  • Rabbi Shlomie Twerski, son-in-law of Rabbi Yoseph of Pittsburgh.
  • Rabbi Mordchai Twerski, son-in-law of Rabbi Shulem of Brighton.
  • Rabbi Dr. Abraham J. Twerski.
  • Rabbi Dr. Aaron Twerski, son-in-law of Rabbi Alexander of Kolbisova.
  • Rabbi Michel Twerski, son-in-law of Rabbi Stein of Foltichan.

2) Rivka Beila Halberstam married her mothers cousin, Yecheskel Shraga Halberstam, and later married Chaim Perlman. She had the following children: Esther and Yankush.

3) Nechama Golda Halberstam married Moshe Stempel. Moshe Stempel was murdered by the Nazis together with his father-in-law Rabbi Ben Zion Halberstam. After World War II, Nechama Golda remarried to Yehosua Meir Freshwater of Sassov. She had the following children:

  • Rabbi Leibel Stempel son-in-law of Rabbi Shlomo Dov Kleinman.
  • Shoshana Stempel who married Zeev Wolf Stern.
  • Benzion Sholom Eliezer Freshwater, son-in-law of the Turka Rov.
  • Rabbi Shlomo Yisrael Freshwater, son-in-law of Rabbi Gedalia Schorr.

4) Rabbi Shlomo Halberstam of Bobov, who married Bluma Rachel Teitelbaum. They had three children. Their daughter Hentchi and their son Mordche Duvid were killed in Auschwitz, their only child to survive was their son:

After World War II, he remarried to Frieda Rubin, and had the following children:

  • Rabbi Benzion Aryeh Leibush, son-in-law of Rabbi Moshe Wachsman.
  • Nechama who married Rabbi Chaim Yaakov Tauber.
  • Devorah Leah who married Rabbi Yehonoson Binyamin Goldberger,
  • Malka who married Rabbi Benzion Blum.
  • Sarah who married Rabbi Yaakov Yisroel Meisles Bobover Ruv of Kiryath Bobov in Bat Yam.
  • Esther who married Rabbi Burech Avrohm Horowitz.

5) Bracha Halberstam married her cousin, Shlomo Rubin who died in 1941. She later remarried to Rabbi Yehuda Lemerger of Serentch. She had the following children:

  • Tzvi Hersch Rubin Halberstam.
  • Miriam who married Rabbi Chaim Yisroel Weinfeld.

6) Gitsche Halberstam married Mordechai Shraga Lipschitz, who died in 1984. They had the following children:

  • Rabbi Benzion Lipschitz.
  • Shulem Eliezer Lipschitz, son-in-law of Rabbi Mendel Brachfeld.

7) Chaim Yehoshua Halberstam, born in 1912 and died in Siberia in 1943, married his cousin Leah Halberstam. They had the following children:

  • Yaakov Yoseph Halberstam, son-in-law of Rabbi Ahron Teitelbaum.
  • Rabbi Burech Duvid Halberstam, son-in-law of Rabbi Chaim Meisels of Sorvosh.

8) Yecheskel Dovid Halberstam (1914–1978) married his cousin, Rachel Rivka Horowitz. They had the following children:

  • Rabbi Yechiel Halberstam, son-in-law of Rabbi Aahron Teitelbaum of Tchenchkovitz.
  • Rabbi Chaim Halberstam, son-in-law of Rabbi Yitzchock Eizek Liebes of Greiding.
  • Rabbi Benzion Halberstam, son-in-law of Rabbi Feivel Halberstam of Kshanov.
  • Rabbi Shlomo Halberstam, son-in-law of Rabbi Yisroel Sochet.

9) Moshe Aaron Halberstam, born in 1920.

10) Shaindel Raatze Halberstam who married a disciple of her father, Yisrael Dov Weitz of Zator/Biale Bilitz. They have the following children:

  • Mirel Sarah married to Sholem Chentov.
  • Rabbi Benzion Yochanan Zev Weitz,son-in-law of Rabbi Refoel Duvid Auerbach.
  • Devorah Leah married to Avrohom Yitzchok Zweigenhaft.
  • Yechiel Mechal Avrohom Yosef Weitz son-in-law of R'Don Sterling.

11) Malka Halberstam married Yisrael Jacober. They have the following children:

  • Miriam
  • Leah

Rebbes of Bobov

  1. Rabbi Shlomo Halberstam (The First) (1847 - 1905) grandson of the Sanzer Rebbe, Rabbi Chaim Halberstam
  2. Rabbi Ben Zion Halberstam (The First) (1874 - 1941)
  3. Rabbi Shlomo Halberstam (The Second) (1907 - 2000)
  4. Rabbi Naftali Halberstam (1931 - 2005)
5. Rabbi Mordechai Dovid Unger (b. 1954) son-in-law of Rabbi Naftali Halberstam
5. Rabbi Ben Zion Aryeh Leibish Halberstam (b. 1955) son of Rabbi Shlomo Halberstam

See also

Preceded by
Solomon Halberstam (The First)
Rebbe of Bobov
1905–1941
Succeeded by
Solomon Halberstam (The Second)

References

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