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Called by the Walls

Yisroel Besser

When the Old City was liberated in 1967, Rav Avigdor Nebenzahl was drawn like a magnet. “We are Leviim, and soon the Beis HaMikdash will be rebuilt,” he told his then-reluctant wife. Since then, he has been an inseparable part of Yerushalayim bein hachomos, serving as the beloved rav of the Old City for the last four decades, renowned for his tolerant, all-embracing nature — and for his famous Shabbos morning vasikin Kiddush, which has become an Old City tradition.

 

Inside the Nuremberg Mind

Eytan Kobre

The phrase “witness to history” is perhaps an overused one, but there’s no more fitting description for what a young German Jewish soldier named Howard Triest became during the renowned Nuremberg War Crimes Trials.

 

Friends in High Places

Rachel Ginsberg

President Carter was perhaps Rabbi Efraim Stein’s most famous friend, but certainly not the only contact he cultivated on Capitol Hill. Rabbi Stein, rav of the Faltishaner beis medrash in Boro Park, has put his forceful personality to use over the last four decades rubbing elbows with the top power brokers in the US government, primarily to help Jews who have found themselves in legal entanglements.

 

On a Wing and a Prayer

Michal Eisikowitz

As the sun is about to set, Jews around the world stop in their tracks for a 15-minute prayer break. In the middle of a court case? A million-dollar deal? Bagging bargains in the shuk? Resourceful individuals have created vibrant Minchah minyanim in the most unusual places. Where did you daven Minchah today?

 

Getting the Picture

David Damen

For decades, Reb Moshe Gombo of Boro Park has been engaged in finding and preserving pictures of pre-war Jews. Whether a rare picture of a great Tzaddik surrounded by his chassidim in the streets of Warsaw or a chilling photo of a Rebbe minutes before being executed by the Nazis, Reb Moshe will go any distance to locate and purchase it. Although his collection is rarely open to the public, he gives Mishpacha readers an exclusive glimpse into the childhood hobby that has turned into a lifelong passion.

 

Every Stone a Story

Yisroel Besser

When you join Rabbi Binyamin Levene for a walk through Jerusalem’s older neighborhoods, you’ll see the city through the eyes of an American-born teenager, a teenager who delights in the charming eccentricities and wholesome welcome of the unapologetically authentic Jerusalemites. As the cherished grandson of the legendary Rav Aryeh Levin, Binyamin was that teenager. He spent his summers absorbing his grandfather’s city and his love for its people. Decades later, the magic hasn’t faded.

 

Supplement: Would the Chazon Ish compromise?

Eliezer Shulman

When the Israeli government tried to conscript religious girls to serve in the National Service program in 1953, the chareidi world was in an uproar. Then an astounding rumor began to circulate: the Chazon Ish was prepared to sign a compromise agreement with Israeli Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion. A rare eyewitness account describes the storm that beset chareidi Jewry during those turbulent days — and the historic letter that set the record straight.

 

Growing up With Akiva

Yael Ehrenpreis Meyer

It’s a letter that no parent should ever have to write. At the shloshim for Akiva Ehrenpreis, his mother, Ahava, penned a letter to a special group who had accompanied Kivi throughout a nearly lifelong battle: I watched you accompany him for the last time on that autumn day exactly 30 days ago … as you had so many times in the past 20 years. On your faces were concentration and concern to protect him, to carry him with so much love… I watched so many loving hands reach out to gently protect him for the

 

Pact to Brotherhood

Dovid Sussman

In 1939, they were five bochurim learning together in the Novardok Yeshivah. In 1949, while rebuilding their war-shattered lives, they met again. Decades later, a series of marriages fused the lifelong friends into a single family unit. What kept them united throughout those long, difficult years is an incredible story about the power of a correspondence with a purpose — the story of the Sheves Achim.

 

Everything is Fine

Libi Astaire

Their paper has aged and their ink has faded, but Holocaust-era cards and letters still have the power to awaken deep emotions — and tell a story. Chicago optometrist and stamp collector Dr. Justin Gordon reads between the lines of postal history to decipher the wrenching personal stories behind letters from Gehinnom.

 

The Etrog Picker

Eytan Kobre

He was one of 13 boys picked by Rav Avraham Kalmanowitz to travel from Morocco to Brooklyn’s Mirrer Yeshivah in 1948. Later, Rabbi Avraham Portal would return to his native land and become a field marshal in the struggle for the soul of Moroccan Jewry in the 1950s What brought the famed rav of Tiktin — a man consumed by the Nazi threat to European Jewry — to the sun-soaked cities of Morocco?

 

Letters to my Prison Pen Pal

Azriela Jaffe

Eliezer was all alone in the world, languishing in a US prison cell for a crime that will plague him for the rest of his life. His wife and children abandoned him, and the shame and guilt nearly suffocated him. Then Noach came into his life, with a decade of letters infused with support, bonding, and unadulterated Jewish love

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