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Enduring Edifice

Aryeh Ehrlich

In a moving conversation with Mishpacha, the Sadiger Rebbe discusses the heiliger Ruzhiner’s secret and the intertwined destinies of the kloiz and the chassidus.

Thursday, June 09, 2016

edifice

If we offered rock-solid chinuch in emunah, with frum foundations, it would be harder for the young generation to stray from the path.

In Sadigura, the shocking news traveled like lightning — the old kloiz, the majestic shul designed with the deep kavanos of the holy Ruzhiner Rebbe, was still standing, having somehow survived the Nazis and the Soviets. In a moving conversation with Mishpacha, the Sadiger Rebbe discusses the heiliger Ruzhiner’s secret and the intertwined destinies of the shul and the chassidus, both built on that same spiritual bedrock.

Reb Chaim Kaufman had just returned to his Antwerp home, and there was one thing on his mind. He had to speak to the son of the Sadiger Rebbe. The sight he’d seen would mean worlds to the Rebbe and to the chassidus. 

At the time, in the 1980s, the Rebbe’s son, Rav Yisrael Moshe — who is the Rebbe today — was living in London, and Kaufman wasted no time giving him the news. 

“I’ve just returned from Sadigura,” he said. “True, it’s under Communist control, but I traveled to Moscow, and once I was inside Soviet territory, I managed to get to the village. And you’ll never believe what I found!” 

On his covert trip to the village, Reb Chaim Kaufman — a loyal chassid — had managed to locate the final resting places of the court’s rebbes. But that wasn’t all he’d discovered. Contrary to popular belief, the legendary Sadiger kloiz — for generations, the spiritual locus of the Sadigura branch of the Ruzhiner dynasty — was still standing. In fact, Kaufman managed to photograph the exterior of the kloiz, and his photos attested that the building, which was so much more than a physical structure, had survived the most daunting of odds. 

Today’s Rebbe still remembers those fraught moments. As soon as he saw the photographs, he immediately phoned his father, the previous Rebbe zy”a, and told him that the kloiz was still standing. The Rebbe became extremely emotional; for years he had waited and wondered about the fate of the kloiz. Now that he knew it had survived World War II and the Soviet occupation, he was more determined than ever to reclaim the building and restore it as a spiritual center. 

It’s been three decades since the disclosure, but the story is finally coming full circle. The current Rebbe of Sadigura has taken his father’s mantle — along with his quest to restore the kloiz. After decades of behind-the-scenes maneuvering, intense prayer, and hard labor, the quest is finally nearing closure. At the beginning of the upcoming year, he hopes to lead a delegation of chassidim back to the village where the story all began.

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