Mordechai Shlomo Friedman

Mordechai Shlomo Friedman

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Mordechai Shlomo Friedman (15 October 1891, Boiany, Ukraine – 2 March 1971, New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

), sometimes called Solomon Mordecai Friedman, was the Boyaner
Boyan (Hasidic dynasty)
Boyan is a Hasidic dynasty named after the town of Boiany in the Ukraine. The Hasidut is presently headquartered in Jerusalem, Israel, with communities in Beitar Ilit, Bnei Brak, London, Antwerp, Brooklyn, and Monsey, New York.-First Boyaner Rebbe:...

 Rebbe
Rebbe
Rebbe , which means master, teacher, or mentor, is a Yiddish word derived from the Hebrew word Rabbi. It often refers to the leader of a Hasidic Jewish movement...

 of New York for over 40 years. In 1927 he left Europe to become one of the first Hasidic Rebbes in America, establishing his court on the Lower East Side
Lower East Side
The Lower East Side, LES, is a neighborhood in the southeastern part of the New York City borough of Manhattan. It is roughly bounded by Allen Street, East Houston Street, Essex Street, Canal Street, Eldridge Street, East Broadway, and Grand Street....

 of New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

 and attracting many American Jewish youth with his charismatic and warm personality. He also played a role in American Jewish leadership with positions on Agudath Israel of America
Agudath Israel of America
Agudath Israel of America , is a Haredi Jewish communal organization in the United States loosely affiliated with the international World Agudath Israel.-Functions:...

, the Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah
Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah
Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah refers to the supreme rabbinical policy-making council of any of several related Haredi Jewish organizations....

, and Holocaust
The Holocaust
The Holocaust , also known as the Shoah , was the genocide of approximately six million European Jews and millions of others during World War II, a programme of systematic state-sponsored murder by Nazi...

 rescue organizations. In 1957 he built the flagship Ruzhiner yeshiva, Tiferes Yisroel, at the top of Malkhei Yisrael Street in Jerusalem.

Early life


Mordechai Shlomo Friedman was the youngest son of the founder and first Rebbe of the Boyaner dynasty, Rabbi Yitzchok Friedman
Yitzchok Friedman
Yitzchok Friedman was the founder and first Rebbe of the Boyan Hasidic dynasty. He was known as the Pachad Yitzchok .-Early life:...

 (known as the Pachad Yitzchok). He was the grandson of the first Sadigura
Sadigura (Hasidic dynasty)
Sadigura is a Hasidic dynasty, one of the branches of the Ruzhiner dynasty.The dynasty began with Rabbi Avrohom Yaakov Friedman of Sadigura now located in Ukraine, who was a son of Rabbi Israel Friedman of Ruzhin, the founder of the Ruzhiner dynasty....

 Rebbe, Rabbi Avrohom Yaakov Friedman, and great-grandson of the founder of the Ruzhin
Ruzhin (Hasidic dynasty)
The Ruzhin Hasidic dynasty was founded by Rabbi Yisroel Friedman of Ruzhyn, . Today, Ruzhyn is an urban-type settlement in Zhytomyr Oblast, Ukraine. Rav Yisroel's father was the Rebbe Sholom Shachne of Prhobisht, who was a son of Rabbi Avrohom "HaMalach"...

 Hasidic dynasty, Rabbi Yisroel of Ruzhin. His mother was the daughter of Rabbi Yochanan Twersky, the Rachmastrivka
Rachmastrivka (Hasidic dynasty)
Rachmastrivka is a Hasidic dynasty named after a town in Ukraine. It is an offshoot of the Chernobyl dynasty dating back to the 19th century.The founder of the dynasty, Rebbe Yochanan Twersky, was known for his humility. He was the son-in-law of Rabbi Pinchos of Kalk...

 Rebbe. He was named after his maternal great-grandfather, Rabbi Mordechai of Chernobyl, and his father's brother, Rabbi Shlomo of Sadigura
Sadhora
Sadhora is now a microraion of Chernivtsi city, which is located 6km from the city center. Previously, it was an independent town.-History:During the Russo-Turkish War, 1768-1774, the commander-in-chief of the Russian army in Moldavia and Wallachia took measures to enhance the economic and...

. He had three older brothers and a sister.

At the age of 10 he was engaged to Chava Sara, daughter of Rabbi Israel Shalom Yosef Heschel, the Mezhbizher Rebbe. They were married eight years later. They had two sons, Yisroel and Yitzchok, and a daughter, Malka.

Move to America


At the beginning of World War I, the Russian army entered the town of Boiany (Boyan) and destroyed the Jewish neighborhood. The Boyaner Rebbe and his family fled to Vienna
Vienna
Vienna is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Austria and one of the nine states of Austria. Vienna is Austria's primary city, with a population of about 1.723 million , and is by far the largest city in Austria, as well as its cultural, economic, and political centre...

, where the Rebbe died in March 1917. After the war ended, each of his sons moved to a different country to establish their court. The eldest, Rabbi Menachem Nachum (1869–1936), became the Boyaner Rebbe of Chernowitz
Chernivtsi
Chernivtsi is the administrative center of Chernivtsi Oblast in southwestern Ukraine. The city is situated on the upper course of the River Prut, a tributary of the Danube, in the northern part of the historic region of Bukovina, which is currently divided between Romania and Ukraine...

, Bukovina
Bukovina
Bukovina is a historical region on the northern slopes of the northeastern Carpathian Mountains and the adjoining plains.-Name:The name Bukovina came into official use in 1775 with the region's annexation from the Principality of Moldavia to the possessions of the Habsburg Monarchy, which became...

. The second son, Rabbi Yisroel (1878–1951), became the Boyaner Rebbe of Leipzig
Leipzig
Leipzig Leipzig has always been a trade city, situated during the time of the Holy Roman Empire at the intersection of the Via Regia and Via Imperii, two important trade routes. At one time, Leipzig was one of the major European centres of learning and culture in fields such as music and publishing...

, Germany, and later, Tel Aviv
Tel Aviv
Tel Aviv , officially Tel Aviv-Yafo , is the second most populous city in Israel, with a population of 404,400 on a land area of . The city is located on the Israeli Mediterranean coastline in west-central Israel. It is the largest and most populous city in the metropolitan area of Gush Dan, with...

. The third son, Rabbi Avrohom Yaakov (1884–1941), became the Boyaner Rebbe of Lemberg, Poland.

The youngest son, Rabbi Mordechai Shlomo, remained in Vienna with his mother until her death in 1922. At that point he entertained an offer to head the Hasidic community of Drohobych
Drohobych
Drohobych is a city located at the confluence of the Tysmenytsia River and Seret, a tributary of the former, in the Lviv Oblast , in western Ukraine...

 in Western Ukraine
Ukraine
Ukraine is a country in Eastern Europe. It has an area of 603,628 km², making it the second largest contiguous country on the European continent, after Russia...

, and another to lead an organized chaburah (group) of Boyaner Hasidim on New York's Lower East Side. The American group maintained a small kloiz (synagogue
Synagogue
A synagogue is a Jewish house of prayer. This use of the Greek term synagogue originates in the Septuagint where it sometimes translates the Hebrew word for assembly, kahal...

) where they gathered on the yahrtzeits of their rebbes. From time to time, this group would send one of their own to visit the Boyaner Rebbe in Boiany and bring back spiritual nourishment for his fellows. After World War II the president of this group, Mordechai Cohen, traveled to Rabbi Mordechai Shlomo in Vienna and begged him to visit the Boyaner Hasidim in America. Rabbi Mordechai Shlomo acquiesced and embarked on an 11-month pilot trip beginning in December 1925, visiting several New York neighborhoods as well as Boston, Chicago and Philadelphia. He was feted with a large farewell gathering at the kloiz before his return to Europe.

For the next year, Rabbi Mordechai Shlomo weighed the pros and cons of relocating to America. He consulted with his uncle, Rabbi Yisrael Friedman of Chortkov
Chortkov (Hasidic dynasty)
Chortkov is a Hasidic dynasty that originated in Chortkov, present-day Ukraine. It had a large following before the Second World War, but most of its adherents perished in the Holocaust....

, and his eldest brother, Rabbi Menachem Nachum of Chernowitz, who both encouraged him to make the move. He and his family arrived in New York in November 1927. On Hanukkah
Hanukkah
Hanukkah , also known as the Festival of Lights, is an eight-day Jewish holiday commemorating the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem at the time of the Maccabean Revolt of the 2nd century BCE...

 of that year, the Boyaner Hasidim called a meeting to raise money for the purchase of the building at 247 East Broadway as a kloiz. This building housed a beis medrash
Beth midrash
Beth Midrash refers to a study hall, whether in a synagogue, yeshiva, kollel, or other building. It is distinct from a synagogue, although many synagogues are also used as batei midrash and vice versa....

 with accommodations for up to 175 worshippers. In keeping with Ruzhiner custom, the Rebbe spent most of his time in prayer and study in a separate room called the daven shtiebel (prayer room). There was also a tish
Tish (Hasidic celebration)
A tish , also spelled tisch, is a gathering of Hasidim around their Rebbe. It may consist of speeches on Torah subjects, singing of melodies known as niggunim and zemirot , with refreshments being served. Hasidim see it as a moment of great holiness...

room, and apartments upstairs for the Rebbe and his family.

The Boyaner kloiz became an island of sanctity on the teeming streets of the Lower East Side. The Rebbe was a charismatic personality who exuded the sense of nobility and spiritual loftiness characteristic of rebbes of the Boyaner dynasty, yet he also displayed a warmth and paternal concern that appealed to many American Jewish youth who had never seen a rebbe before. The Rebbe inspired quite a number of secular Jewish youth to become ba'alei teshuvah
Baal teshuva
Baal teshuva or ba'al teshuvah , sometimes abbreviated to BT, is a term referring to a Jew who turns to embrace Orthodox Judaism. Baal teshuva literally means, "repentant", i.e., one who has repented or "returned" to God...

(returnees to the faith). He succeeded in uniting the Ruzhin-Boyan survivors of the Holocaust
The Holocaust
The Holocaust , also known as the Shoah , was the genocide of approximately six million European Jews and millions of others during World War II, a programme of systematic state-sponsored murder by Nazi...

 and proved that Hasidut could be a viable lifestyle in America.

The Rebbe was known for living modestly and simply. He lived in the same apartment over the kloiz for 40 years and did not replace his furniture. Whenever he traveled using public funds, he refused to take a taxi and traveled by subway.

Leadership


The Rebbe took an active role in American Jewish leadership. He was a founder and president of the Agudath HaAdmorim (Union of Grand Rabbis) of the United States, in which capacity he participated in the Rabbi's March on Washington in 1943. He was the first vice president of Agudath Israel of America
Agudath Israel of America
Agudath Israel of America , is a Haredi Jewish communal organization in the United States loosely affiliated with the international World Agudath Israel.-Functions:...

 and a member of that body's Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah
Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah
Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah refers to the supreme rabbinical policy-making council of any of several related Haredi Jewish organizations....

. In conjunction with Agudath HaRabbanim, he helped organize the Vaad Hatzalah during World War II and assisted the rescue of Torah leaders in Poland and Eastern Europe. After the war, he was elected president of Vaad HaEzra, in which capacity he raised funds to help Holocaust survivors in post-war Europe. He was respected by every segment of the Jewish world, including "misnagdim, the yeshivah world, baalebatim, the modern intelligentsia…the other chassidic leaders who arrived later to the American shores, as well as the rabbinic leaders abroad".

Activities in Israel



Like his father and grandfather before him, the Rebbe served as president of the Kollel Vohlin (Association of Ukrainian Jews in Palestine), distributing large amounts of charity money in Israel each year. He also gave all the pidyonos (redemption-money) he received from people giving him kvitlach
Kvitel
Kvitel refers to a practice developed by Hasidic Judaism in which a Hasid writes a note with a petitionary prayer and gives it to a Rebbe in order to receive the latter's blessing...

 to the Boyaner chesed
Chesed
The Hebrew noun khesed or chesed is the Hebrew word for "kindness." It is also commonly translated as "loving-kindness," or "love." Love is a central Jewish value, and leads to many particular commandments. Chesed is central to Jewish ethics and Jewish theology...

 fund, earmarked for the poor in Israel. Like all descendants of the Ruzhiner dynasty, he carried a Turkish
Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

 passport that identified him as a citizen of Palestine. Although he desired to resettle in Israel, he was unable to do so due to poor health.

The Rebbe visited Israel four times, in 1949, 1953, 1958 and 1960. On his first trip, he visited his brother Rabbi Yisroel, the Boyaner Rebbe of Leipzig and Tel Aviv, whom he hadn't seen in 22 years. On two later visits, Rabbi Mordechai Shlomo took the honor of lighting the first bonfire at the Lag BaOmer celebration at the tomb of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai in Meron, Israel. This privilege had been purchased by his grandfather, the Sadigura Rebbe, from the Sephardi
Sephardi Jews
Sephardi Jews is a general term referring to the descendants of the Jews who lived in the Iberian Peninsula before their expulsion in the Spanish Inquisition. It can also refer to those who use a Sephardic style of liturgy or would otherwise define themselves in terms of the Jewish customs and...

 guardians of Meron and Safed
Safed
Safed , is a city in the Northern District of Israel. Located at an elevation of , Safed is the highest city in the Galilee and of Israel. Due to its high elevation, Safed experiences warm summers and cold, often snowy, winters...

; the Sadigura Rebbe bequeathed this honor to his eldest son, Rabbi Yitzchok, the first Boyaner Rebbe, and his progeny. During the 13 years that he lived in Tel Aviv, Rabbi Yisroel lit the first bonfire in Meron each year; after his death, Rabbi Mordechai Shlomo inherited the privilege. When he wasn't able to travel to Israel for Lag BaOmer, Rabbi Mordechai Shlomo appointed Rabbi Simcha Kaplan, the Rav of Safed, to light the first bonfire in his stead.

In 1948 the Ruzhiner synagogue
Synagogue
A synagogue is a Jewish house of prayer. This use of the Greek term synagogue originates in the Septuagint where it sometimes translates the Hebrew word for assembly, kahal...

 in the Old City of Jerusalem, Tiferes Yisroel (also called the Nissan Beck Synagogue), which was completed by the Sadigura Rebbe, Rabbi Avrohom Yaakov Friedman, in 1872, was destroyed by the Arab Legion during the 1948 Israel War of Independence
1948 Arab-Israeli War
The 1948 Arab–Israeli War, known to Israelis as the War of Independence or War of Liberation The war commenced after the termination of the British Mandate for Palestine and the creation of an independent Israel at midnight on 14 May 1948 when, following a period of civil war, Arab armies invaded...

. On his trip to Israel in 1953, the Boyaner Rebbe of New York laid the foundations for a new Ruzhiner Torah centre in the New City of Jerusalem. In 1957 the Ruzhiner yeshiva, called Mesivta
Mesivta
Mesivta is an Orthodox Jewish yeshiva high school for boys. The term is commonly used in the United States to describe a yeshiva that emphasizes Talmudic studies for boys in grades 9 through 11 or 12; alternately, it refers to the religious studies track in a yeshiva high school that offers both...

 Tiferes Yisroel, was inaugurated with the support of all of the Rebbes of the Ruzhiner dynasty. A large synagogue was built adjacent to it, also bearing the name Tiferes Yisroel. The design of the synagogue, located on the western end of Malkhei Yisrael Street close to the Central Bus Station
Jerusalem Central Bus Station
The Jerusalem Central Bus Station is the main bus depot in Jerusalem, Israel and one of the busiest bus stations in the country. Located on Jaffa Road near the entrance to the city, it serves Egged, Superbus and Dan intercity bus routes...

, includes a large white dome, reminiscent of the domed Tiferes Yisrael Synagogue that was destroyed in the Old City.

Final years and succession


In his last years the Rebbe suffered from severe arthritis
Arthritis
Arthritis is a form of joint disorder that involves inflammation of one or more joints....

 and a heart condition. After suffering a stroke
Stroke
A stroke, previously known medically as a cerebrovascular accident , is the rapidly developing loss of brain function due to disturbance in the blood supply to the brain. This can be due to ischemia caused by blockage , or a hemorrhage...

 in 1967, he moved to the Upper West Side
Upper West Side
The Upper West Side is a neighborhood in the borough of Manhattan, New York City, that lies between Central Park and the Hudson River and between West 59th Street and West 125th Street...

 to be near his children. Another kloiz was established on the ground floor of the apartment building where he spent his final years. He continued to see his Hasidim and participate in communal affairs despite his failing health. He died of another stroke on 2 March 1971 (5 Adar
Adar
Adar is the sixth month of the civil year and the twelfth month of the ecclesiastical year on the Hebrew calendar. It is a winter month of 29 days...

 5731). Tens of thousands accompanied his bier in a funeral procession in the streets of Jerusalem to the Mount of Olives
Mount of Olives
The Mount of Olives is a mountain ridge in East Jerusalem with three peaks running from north to south. The highest, at-Tur, rises to 818 meters . It is named for the olive groves that once covered its slopes...

, where he was buried at night on the heights of the mountain. His wife preceded him in death a few months earlier.

The Rebbe's death left the Boyaner Hasidim leaderless. The Rebbe's brother Avrohom Yaakov, the Boyaner Rebbe in Lemberg, and the successors of his brother Rabbi Menachem Nachum, the Boyaner Rebbes in Chernowitz, had all been murdered by the Nazis
Nazism
Nazism, the common short form name of National Socialism was the ideology and practice of the Nazi Party and of Nazi Germany...

, while his brother Rabbi Yisroel, the Boyaner Rebbe in Leipzig/Tel Aviv, had had only daughters and was not succeeded by his sons-in-law.

His followers approached the Rebbe's eldest son, Yisroel, to become the next Rebbe, but he declined. The Hasidim then asked the Rebbe's daughter Malka and her husband, Rabbi Dr. Menachem Mendel Brayer, a lecturer at Yeshiva University
Yeshiva University
Yeshiva University is a private university in New York City, with six campuses in New York and one in Israel. Founded in 1886, it is a research university ranked as 45th in the US among national universities by U.S. News & World Report in 2012...

, to offer one of their two young sons for the leadership. The eldest, Yigal, an aerospace engineer, was suggested and then rejected. The lot fell to the younger son, Nachum Dov
Nachum Dov Brayer
Nachum Dov Brayer is the present Rebbe of the Boyan Hasidic dynasty. He is the grandson of the former Boyaner Rebbe of New York, Rabbi Mordechai Shlomo Friedman, who died when he was 11 years old. On Hanukkah 1984, at the age of 25, he was coronated Boyaner Rebbe. He lives in...

 (born 1959), who then enrolled at the Ruzhiner yeshiva in Jerusalem to prepare himself for the task. On Hanukkah
Hanukkah
Hanukkah , also known as the Festival of Lights, is an eight-day Jewish holiday commemorating the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem at the time of the Maccabean Revolt of the 2nd century BCE...

1984, at the age of 25, Rabbi Nachum Dov Brayer was coronated Boyaner Rebbe. The Hasidut is now headquartered in Jerusalem, where the Rebbe resides.

External links