The Pupa 1934 Hachnassas Sefer Torah took place on Shabbos and was photographed by a non-Jew.

Machberes: Inside The Chassidish And Yeshivish World

By Rabbi Gershon Tannenbaum

In advance of the yahrzeit of his father on 13 Av, Rabbi Yaakov Yechezkiyahu Greenwald, current Pupa Rebbe, traveled to Chust, Ukraine, joined by a select group of chassidim and students. The Rebbe made the quick trip to pray at the gravesite of his great-grandfather, Rabbi Moshe Greenwald, zt’l (1853—1911), revered Chuster Rav and author of Arugas HaBosem, on his yahrzeit of 7 Av, Thursday, July 23. The Rebbe returned home before Shabbos.

The Pupa 1934 Hachnassas Sefer Torah took place on Shabbos  and was photographed by a non-Jew.
The Pupa 1934 Hachnassas Sefer Torah took place on Shabbos
and was photographed by a non-Jew.

For Pupa chassidim, this Wednesday, the 13th of Av, July 29, will be the commemoration of the 31st yahrzeit of Rabbi Yosef Greenwald, zt’l (1903—1984), late Pupa Rebbe and author of Vayechi Yosef and V’yaan Yosef. His wife and nine children were murdered in the Holocaust. Rabbi Yosef miraculously survived the Holocaust and rebuilt the illustrious Pupa Kehillah that existed before World War II. Chassidim from all over the world remember one of the key giants of Torah and chesed from before WWII, who rebuilt Yiddishkeit after the devastation of the Holocaust.

The “VaYaged Yaakov” cutting wheat  for Pesach
The “VaYaged Yaakov” cutting wheat
for Pesach

Jews were invited to settle in the city of Pupa (Papa, Northwest Hungary) in 1714, under the protection of the House of Esterhazy. This helped Pupa grow into a major regional trade center. By the 19th century, Hungary’s third most significant Jewish community had developed there, and in 1846 the kehillah built Hungary’s third largest shul. In continuing his family’s good relations with the local Jewish community, Count Paul Esterhazy de Galanthay (1715—1785) of the Esterhazy Palace in Papa, donated 100,000 bricks to assist in the synagogue’s construction that began in 1844. Construction of the new synagogue was completed in 1846. The shul was later vandalized by the Nazis.

The anti-Jewish laws of 1938—39 caused great hardship in the community. From 1940, its young Jewish men were pressed into forced-labor battalions, at first within Hungary, but later, in 1942, to the Russian front. The Jewish population in Pupa increased from 452 souls in 1787 to 2,645 in 1840 (then representing almost 20% of its population), and 3,550 in 1880 (almost 25% of the total population). After the beginning of the 20th century, a gradual decline began. There were 3,076 Jews in 1910 (15.3%), 2,991 in 1920, 2,613 in 1941 (11%) and 2,565 in 1944. After the German occupation on March 19, 1944, the Jews were confined to a ghetto on May 24, and from there moved to a concentration camp which was set up in a factory in the town. On July 4 and 5, the 2,565 Jews of the city plus 300 from the immediate vicinity were deported to Auschwitz. Less than 10% survived. In 1946, there were 470 surviving Jews in the town (2% of the population) and by 1970, the number of Jews residing there had fallen to less than 40. Today, there are no Jews left in Pupa.

Thousands To Participate At Pupa Yahrzeit

The Pupa Rebbe, zt’l, achieved world recognition as a scholarly young man prior to WWII, having led a large yeshiva in the city of Satmar. When his father, Rabbi Yaakov Yechezkiyahu Greenwald, zt’l (1882—1941), the author of VaYaged Yaakov, passed away in 1941, Rabbi Yosef was elected to succeed his father’s prestigious rabbinical seat. Rabbi Yaakov Yechezkiyahu was a son of Rabbi Moshe Greenwald, zt’l (1853—1911), revered Chuster Rav and author of Arugas HaBosem. As the Vayechi Yosef departed the city of Satmar, the entire yeshiva of several hundred students chose to join him in Pupa, where they continued to imbibe his sweet Torah teachings.

He lost his wife and children, who were murdered during the Holocaust, as well as his yeshiva and his whole community. After WWII, he remarried and began resurrecting the glory of Pupa. He labored to provide lodging and meals for hundreds of orphans and reestablished his yeshiva. Assuming the roles and obligations of both father and mother, the Pupa Rav arranged sustenance and marriages for his orphaned students. He immigrated first to Antwerp in 1947, and then to America in 1951, where he settled in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn and began leading his remnant congregation and yeshiva anew with but a handful of followers and students.

The sainted Pupa Rav passed away in 1984 at the age of 81, and was succeeded by his son, Rabbi Yaakov Yechezkiyahu Greenwald. The size and Torah productivity of the Pupa Kehillah today was unimaginable just a few short decades ago. Pupa presently consists of a wide international network of educational institutions with more than 7,000 students enrolled in its yeshivas, girls schools, camps, and kollelim in Williamsburg, Boro Park, Monsey, Westchester, Montreal, Jerusalem, and elsewhere.

Kiryas Pupa is its dedicated community in Ossining, Westchester County, New York, with more than 800 students enrolled in its graduate yeshiva located on a pastoral 140-acre campus. Kiryas Pupa was established by the late Pupa Rebbe in the last years of his life. He toiled to seat his yeshiva outside the bustling city. The Pupa mosdos are presently expanding so fast that they are currently building at least one new facility every year, and outgrow the new facility before its completion. The main beis midrash in Kiryas Pupa was previously enlarged and is currently under further expansion. In addition to the kehillah’s older cemetery in Floral Park, NJ, a newer cemetery is located adjacent to Kiryas Pupa in Westchester. The late Pupa Rebbe reposes there in Kiryas Pupa.

Scores of buses will run from Boro Park, Williamsburg, Monsey, and from all points in the Catskills to Kiryas Pupa early Wednesday morning as well as late afternoon. Bus service to Kiryas Pupa will begin Tuesday afternoon at 5:00 p.m. Ladies are directed to visit the gravesite on Tuesday until 7:00 p.m., and no later. From 7:00 p.m. Tuesday and all day Thursday, only men will be permitted there. Parking will be restricted to certain designated areas and shuttle buses will ferry visitors to the ohel. Those coming by car to Kiryas Pupa are asked to stop by their nearest Pupa Beis Medrash and bring along chassidim waiting there for rides.

Light refreshments with hot and cold drinks will be plentifully available at tables set up in a special tent nearby. In addition, breakfast and lunch will be served in the adjoining yeshiva dining hall. Several tents will be erected to accommodate all who wish to participate in various charity efforts of Pupa organizations, as well as other charities. The scene of the many tents lining the entrance to the cemetery reveals a vitality to an otherwise morose setting. The present Rebbe’s visit to the ohel at 1:15 p.m., joined by his chassidim and students will, as in years past, be a memorable event.

In Kiryas Pupa, the Rebbe will lead Ma’ariv Tuesday night at 9:15 p.m. and Shacharis on Wednesday at 8:45 a.m., after which the Rebbe will receive petitioners who approach him for his sage advice and blessings. The yahrzeitseudah will begin at 7:45 in the main beis midrash in Kiryas Pupa.

A special publication, Ohr Chodosh, fully reporting and updating the progress of the many Pupa educational and charitable organizations, will be widely distributed. The publication will have historical articles, unpublished chidusheiTorah by the Vayechi Yosef, as well as a host of previously unseen pictures of the VaYaged Yaakov, Vayechi Yosef, and pre-WWII Pupa scenes. Additional commemorative meals will be held at all the other Pupa locations throughout the world.

Rabbi Gershon Tannenbaum is the rav of B’nai Israel of Linden Heights in Boro Park and director of the Rabbinical Alliance of America. He can be contacted at yeshiva613@aol.com.

 

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