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Belz Forgets Budapest
This week saw an extraordinary and tragic confluence of events relating to Belz, who recently threatened to leave Israel over the new draft law.
Last Shabbos, the fifth Belzer Rebbe, Rabbi Yissocher Dov Rokeach, spoke to thousands of his followers during the tisch. He said, “We don’t need the state or the government. We need batei medrashim and yeshivos to continue avodas Hashem and to educate the children in the derech of avodas Hashem and the responsibility of a life of Torah and kiyum mitzvos and anxiously awaiting the redemption by Moshiach.”
Yesterday, hundreds of rabbis gathered in Budapest for a memorial ceremony marking the 70th anniversary of the destruction of Hungarian Jewry. They stood at the Danube River, where a memorial displays sixty pairs of iron shoes, in commemoration of victims who were forced by Arrow Cross militiamen to stand by the river's edge and take their shoes off before being shot into the river.
Seventy years ago, the fourth Belzer Rebbe, R. Aharon Rokeach, left Budapest, where he had been living after fleeing the Gestapo in Poland. His half-brother Mordechai read out his farewell speech to thousands of Jews. In this speech, he told the gathered crowds that the Rebbe assured them that they will enjoy good and tranquility in Hungary. The Rebbe was able to leave to Palestine, fulfilling a lifelong dream, due to the help of the Zionists, who obtained special travel certificates for him. Two months later, the Nazis arrived in Budapest, and deported all the Jews to Auschwitz.