Holocaust survivor Kaliv Rebbe passes away at 96

The Rebbe of Kaliv advocated for fellow Holocaust survivors after helping rebuild his hassidic dynasty destroyed by the Nazis.

By BEN BRESKY
April 29, 2019 03:26
2 minute read.
Kaliv Rebbe

The Rebbe of Kaliv and his hassidic followers celebrating the Simchat Beit Hashoeva (water drawing ceremony) during Succot in Rishon LeZion, October 18, 1978. (photo credit: MOSHE MILNER / GPO)

 
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Rabbi Menachem Mendel Taub, the Admor of Kaliv who was an advocate for fellow Holocaust survivors and for strengthening Jewish lives, passed away on Sunday at the age of 96 at his home in Jerusalem.

Taub devoted his life to preserving the memory of the Holocaust in the general public and in the haredi (ultra-Orthodox) community in particular.

Part of a dynasty of famous Eastern-European hassidic rebbes, Taub survived several Nazi concentration camps during World War II. Born in Transylvania, then part of Romania, to Rabbi Yehuda Yechiel Taub, the Rozler Rov, he and his siblings were deported to the Auschwitz concentration camp in 1944 following the German occupation of Hungary.

Unlike most Orthodox rabbis, Taub did not have a long beard but short wisps, something attributed to chemical burning experiments conducted on him in Auschwitz by the notorious Dr. Josef Mengele. His brothers were murdered, but Taub was transferred to several other concentration camps, including Bergen-Belsen.

After surviving the Holocaust, he was reunited with his wife in Sweden and resettled in Cleveland, Ohio.

The couple immigrated to Israel in 1962 where they reestablished the Kaliv community in Rishon Lezion and later in Bnei Brak. He published Kol Menachem, a 13-volume compendium on the Torah and Jewish holidays, and Shema Yisrael: Testimonies of devotion, courage, and self-sacrifice, 1939–1945, a collection of more than 500 first-person accounts of Holocaust survivors.

President Reuven Rivlin mourned the rabbi, stating, “I received with deep sadness the news of the passing of the ‘Holocaust Admor’ who suffered terribly as an inmate at Auschwitz and dedicated his life to the memory of the victims, inspired by a true love of Israel.”

“The Admor gave voice the spiritual heroism of Jews during the Holocaust and did all he could to honor the memory of its victims,” he added. “His work has particular resonance at present as we redouble our commitment to remember and never to forget. Our condolences to his family and many pupils. May his memory be a blessing.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also mourned the rabbi, noting he “dedicated himself to rebuilding the world of Torah in the State of Israel and among the Jewish Diaspora. At the same time, he was tirelessly engaged in enshrining the memory of the Holocaust, especially the triumph of the impressive spirit in the ghettos and camps.”

Netanyahu added that his passing so close to Holocaust Remembrance Day “strengthens our eternal commitment – to remember and not forget.”

In 2014, Taub spoke at a commemoration in Budapest for the 70th anniversary of the destruction of Hungarian Jewry.

After his wife, Hana Sara, passed away in 2010, he remarried Sheindel Malnik of Bnei Brak on Lag Ba’omer two years later in a private ceremony.

“His faithful hassidim came to the Kaliv synagogue in Jerusalem’s Sanhendria neighborhood to rejoice ahead of their rebbe’s wedding, as well as to celebrate Lag Ba’omer,” reported The Jerusalem Post’s Jeremy Sharon. “Dancing besides a gigantic bonfire, a festival tradition, the rebbe’s followers sang and made merry in honor of the ‘Admor,’ their hassidic master... [who] has lived a dramatic, at times traumatic, but fulfilled life over the past nine decades.”

Taub was the seventh generation of hassidic rebbes from Kaliv starting with Rabbi Yitzchak Isaac of Kaliv, a disciple of the famous Reb Elimelech of Lizhensk. Hamodia news reported that his grandson, Rabbi Yisrael Mordechai Horowitz, will succeed him as Kaliver Rebbe.

Holocaust Remembrance Day begins Wednesday evening.

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