Geder Avos

“Every town and village has its own chapter in Jewish history,” wrote Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn, the sixth Rebbe of Chabad. “Thus, for example, for 102 years Lubavitch was the seat of four generations of Chabad Rebbeim – the focus of Chabad Chassidus for hundreds of thousands of chassidim throughout Russia and elsewhere.” Then in 1915, as World War I engulfed Europe, the fifth Rebbe, Rabbi Sholom DovBer Schneersohn, evacuated his court from the village and settled in Rostov-on-the-River-Don. “Nevertheless,” as his son and successor, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak, went on to say, “the name ‘Lubavitch’ will always be bound up with Chabad Chassidus and will ever awaken sweet memories, and portray a wonderful chapter in Jewish history.”

The project of fencing the cemetery in Lubavitch, begun by ESJF and Geder Avos, and fully sponsored by Mr. Joseph Popack of NY, was completed in 2018.

From 2019 and on, Geder Avos together with the local Chabad Shliach Rabbi Gavriel Gordon, has continued to work toward the restoration and rehabilitation of this historic cemetery in which lies the Ohel of the Tzemach Tzedek and Rebbe Maharash of Lubavitch. As part of this project an Ohel was rebuilt above the resting places of the wives and daughters of the Chabad Rebbeim, and many hundreds of other tombstones have been uncovered and reinstalled in their proper places.

A unique part of this project has been the discovery of the foundation and rebuilding of the shul which borders the Ohel of the Tzemach Tzedek and Rebbe Maharash.

Among chassidim, the shul was referred to as the ‘Akeda Shul’, in reference to a heavenly event that took place there. After the departure of the Rebbe Rashab and the Tomchei Tmimim Yeshiva from the town of Lubavitch during the First World War, non-Jewish residents of the town demolished the Ohel and the Shul and set them on fire.

“Below a large pile of earth and dirt, we discovered the original floor, and remains of lamps, nails and hinges from the Shul,” Rabbi Gordon recalls.

As part of the restoration, the Shul was returned to full functionality, with an Aron Kodesh, Bima, library and places to pray and study.

Yet another part of the project was the demarcation and fencing of an even older local cemetery in the village, known as the “Nistarim cemetery”.

The entire project of restoring and rebuilding the Lubavitch cemeteries and shul is being completed by the local Shliach Rabbi Gavriel Gordon, in full cooperation with Geder Avos and fully sponsored by Mr Joseph and Penina Batsheva Popack.

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