Sunday, August 1, 2010

Yahrzeit of the Belzer Rebbe Aharon Rokeach


Today (Sunday) is the Yahrzeit (Hebrew: Azkarah) of the previous Belzer Rebbe Aharon Rokeach. Rebbe Aharon was the uncle of the present Belzer Rebbe Yissachar Dov Rokeach. His life was in danger when the Germans invaded Poland and the Gestapo was searching for him. He escaped but, until today, his last speech (at his last Tish in Hungary in 1944) before he escaped to Palestine (Israel) remains very controversial.


The Belzer Rebbe Aharon Rokeach , 1877 - 1957, in Marienbad.


  1. Could you tell us what his last speech was about?

  2. B"H

    What he said and what he didn't say is a rather complicated matter and will find very contradicting opinions throughout the Internet.

    What basically happened was that, after his flight from Belz (then in Poland, today it belongs to the Ukraine), the Rebbe arrived in Hungary. Many things happened to him on the way but he basically believed that the Jews in Hungary were save. The Nazis hadn't invaded the country yet and people say that in January 1944 and even in February, no one thought about a Nazi invasion. I think it was in March 1944 when the German occupied Hungary and started the Holocaust.

    Tzvi M. Rabinowicz writes in his book "The Encyclopedia of Hasidism" that in 1941, Hungary had a Jewish population of 725,000. During the war, the Jewish community lost 564,500 lives.

    Before the Belzer Rebbe Aharon Rokeach (together with his brother Rabbi Mordechai) left for Palestine (in Jan. / Feb. 1944), he gave his last Tish. Please take into consideration that thousands of Jews from Poland and elsewhere had then feld to Hungary and the country was packed with Jews.
    His last Tish was very emotional because he said GOODBYE.
    There are different versions about the content of his Tish speech and different phrases / sentences were not published by Belz until recently.

    The Rebbe seemed to have told the Chassidim and further Jews that they should not escape Hungary but stay there. The Nazis are not there and it is saver for them even if the Hungarians are anti - Semitic.
    He was asked whether the Jews should leave and he said NO.

    However, it wasn't only the Belzer Rebbe but there are serious accusations against other Rebbes as well. For instance, people claim that the Satmarer Rebbe Yoel Teitelbaum knew about the Holocaust taking place in Auschwitz, Treblinka, etc. but avoided warning Hungarian Jewry. He himself left on the Kastner Train.

    I have been collecting lots of material on the subject but haven't found the time of putting it together. And, as I said, it is rather complicated and one should not just google his way through but speak to Chassidim and read lots of books on the subject. e.g. Rabbi Weissmandel !