Breslev in Safed

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Tzfat Breslov
Breslev in Safed
ברסלב בצפת
Other Names:
Bratslav, Breslov, Nanachs, Nachmans
The Breslev Hassidic community is one of Tzfat’s fastest-growing communities.

Rabbi Nachman of Breslov visited Tzfat as part of his trip to Eretz Yisroel. Due to the strong focus of Eretz Yisroel in his teachings, Breslev Hassidim have been immigrating to Israel since the movement’s early days in the 18th and 19th centuries but until the 1960's few Breslev Hassidim settled in Tzfat. Since the 1960's the community has grown and flourished in Tzfat, attracting old-community Breslev families as well as newcomers to the Breslev way of life. Currently the bulk of Breslovers in Tzfat affiliate with either the Nanach movement or are followers of Rabbi Elazar Mordechai Kenig.


[edit] Overview of the Breslev Sect

The Breslev Hassidic sect follow the teachings of their “Rebbe” -- leader -- Rabbi Nachman from the Ukranian town of Breslev. Rabbi Nachman taught that G-d is best served through sincerity of the heart, worshiping G-d with simplicity and living life with joy. Breslovers practice hisbodedut meditation and seclusion as a means to “teshuvah” -- repentance -- and strengthening ones faith in G-d.

Leadership in most Hassidic dynasties passes along the male line but Rebbe Nachman’s followers did not select a new leader when Rebbe Nachman died and Rebbe Nachman is still viewed as the Rebbe of the Breslov Hassidim by his followers. Some Breslovers such as the Nanach's completely eliminate the need for rabbis in Breslov, aside from what is necessary for Halachic questions.

[edit] Breslev Hassidim Historically in Safed

Hassidic immigration to the Land of Israel increased during the 18th and 19th centuries and many Hassidim settled in Tzfat but Breslev Hassidim were not among the various communities which established institutions in Tzfat. Rebbe Nachman spent some time in Israel at the close of the 18th century and visited Tzfat during his trip. His daughter Miriam moved to Tzfat with her husband and is buried in the old cemetery of Tzfat. Rabbi Yitzchok, the son of Rabbi Nason also moved to Tzfat towards the end of his life and buried in the cemetery as well. A number of other individual Breslov Hasidim lived in Tzfat through out the years including Rabbi Yisroel Karduner, who for a short while ran a Kollel Chatzot in the city. Rabbi Shmuel Horowitz, a well known Breslover was born and raised in Tzfas, although in a Chabad family.

[edit] Modern Tzfat Breslev Community

The Tzfat Breslev community was expanded by Rabbi Gedalia Kenig, a disciple of Rabbi Avraham Sternhartz. In the 1960's Rabbi Sternhartz urged Rabbi Gedalia Kenig to move to Tzfas and establish a Breslev community in the city. Rabbi Gedalia Kenig moved to Tzfat and began planning for Breslev families’ housing, education and other institutional needs. He established the Nachal Novea Mekor Chochma Institutions of Tzfat. Aside from the followers of Rabbi Kenig, members of the Na Nach movement also make up a significant portion of the Breslov population in Tzfas.

[edit] Nachal Novea Mekor Chochma

After the passing of Rabbi Gedalia, he was succeeded by his son Rabbi Elazar Mordechai Kenig who continues to lead his community along with his brother and sons under the umbrella organization “Nachal Novea Mekor Chochma” --The River is a Source of Wisdom. The Nachal Novea institutions in Tzfat include religious, educational and community establishments.

[edit] Great Breslev Synagogue

The Great Breslev Synagogue is located next to the Ari Sephardi Synagogue near the base of the Old Jewish Quarter on HaAri Street, just above the cemetery. The synagogue offers daily “minyans” -- prayer quorums -- for the three daily prayers as well as Sabbath and holiday services. The synagogue follows traditional Breslev prayer styles and incorporates singing, dancing and spirited meditations into their prayers.

[edit] Kollel Ohr Tzaddikim

Kollel Ohr Tzaddikim is a full-time Torah study program for married men. The students study according to their level with options for beginning, intermediate and advanced studies. Alumni hold rabbinical, teaching, religious and other leadership positions throughout the world. There is also a yeshivah high school for Breslev boys on the premises.

[edit] Talmud Torah Magen Avot

The Magen Avot Talmud Torah is an elementary school for young boys who can study religious subjects at the yeshivah until eighth grade. The “cheder” -- school -- serves boys from age three through thirteen and includes studies in Torah and character development.

[edit] Trisk Synagogue

Breslev maintains control over the historical Trisk synagogue in the Old Jewish Quarter for study and prayers.

[edit] Other Educational Institutions

Other educational institutions run by the Breslev community include a girls’ kindergarten and a boys day care center. These institutions are open to all Tzfat families, regardless of their affiliation with Breslev. Profits from these day care centers are used to fund other project of their community.

[edit] Breslev Mikve

The Rabbi Koeing community run three Mikva's, two for men and one for women. One men's mikva is located by the Trisk Shul and the second one near their Big Breslov Shul.

The Breslev women's “mikve” -- ritual bath -- is located near the Central Breslev synagogue under Kiryat Breslov. It is open to all and was built to provide a welcoming and friendly atmosphere for women who, as per Jewish law, immerse monthly. The mikve also has an educational component which includes tours and classes to explain the Jewish traditions and laws concerning mikve use.

[edit] Na Nachs

A growing sub-group within the Breslev community is the “Na Nachs,” a Breslev group which follows the teachings of Rabbi Yisrael Odesser. Rabbi Odesser taught that repeating a phrase, “Na, Nach, Nachma, Nachman M’Uman” can bring the Final Redemption closer. There are many Na Nach Breslev families in Tzfat, especially in the Shprinzak area of the Darom neighborhood.

Nanach's do not believe in the authority of any current Breslov leaders and go directly to the teachings of Rebbe Nachman for guidance. Many Nanach's in Tzfat work in Hafatza, spreading the books of Rebbe Nachman, either under Keren Rabbi Yisroel Odesser or on their own.

[edit] The Nanach Cheder

In order to compensate themselves for having their children rejected from other local schools, Rabbi Amram Horowitz established the Nanach Cheder which continues to educate the Nanach children. A Na Nach girls school was also active for years but was recently forced to close down due to lack of funds. On Shabbos there is a Nanach minyan in the Cheder building. For a short while the American Nanach's ran a Nanach Center on Rechov Yerushalaim in the Old City.

[edit] The Arizal Basta

Keren Rabbi Yisroel Dov Odesser runs a booth right near the stairs leading down to the Arizal Mikvah, directly underneath the Ari Sepharadi Shul. Although the main purpose of the stand is to sell the books of Rebbe Nachman and Nanach paraphernalia, it also sells pictures and spiritual trinkets to raise money for printing books and the Keren's other projects.

[edit] Nachal Novea Breakoff

Due to internal politics and strife in the community, 30+ families broke off their connection with the Nachal Novea community. A number of these individuals opened the 'Ohavi Hashem' minyan in the abandoned Rodavitch shul above Rechov Ari somewhere behind the Tel Aviv hotel. This also led to the creation of the 'Ginzay Hamelech' elementary school that now competes with the 'Magen Avos' school.

[edit] Yackov John

Rabbi Yackov Johan is a Sephardic Breslov Rabbi with a small Yeshiva and a few followers. His Bais Medrash is located on Remez David street right after the Tzhal section ends. Originaly located in his home, the Yeshiva eventually moved across the street into a larger location. Rabbi Yackov Johan also supervises Shchita and Kashrus, often in Uman which he visits several times a year.

[edit] Tzahal Eight

Pear Hanetzach is located on the bottom of the Tzhal 8 building, it contains an Ashkanazi and Sefardi Bati Medrashim as well as a Mikva. Officially it is a general Breslov Shul and does not affiliate with any particular group. It serves mostly the people living in the Meor Hachamim buildings.

[edit] Ganei Hadar

Ganei Hadar is a complex of around 15 low priced housing, small apartment buildings at the bottom edge of Tzfat right near the second exit. A large part of Ganei Hadar residents are Breslov and they have their own Shul. Although not limited to any specific Breslov group, many are Nanach or sympathies with the Nanach spirit of Breslov.

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