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Dr Norman Weinberg
Poland Jewish Cemeteries Restoration Project
95 Chasewood Lane
East Amherst , NY 14051
Dear Dr Weinberg: Tevet 5764
With great excitement I have followed the Ozarow Cemetery Restoration Project (OCRP) from it's inception. Together with my two sons, Rabbi Yechiel and Rabbi Arye Becker and my dear friend Rabbi David Zalis, we traveled to Ozarow and had the honor to participate in the dedication ceremony of it's cemetery, in Tishrei 5762/October 2001.
Thank you for a job well done. The ancient Ozarow cemetery is a cornerstone of our heritage. By restoring this sacred site we have honored the memory of our ancestors and those murdered in the Holocaust. The cemetery of Ozarow is our roots and our spiritual ties. Through understanding and identifying with these roots we can better understand ourselves today, thus helping both ourselves and our children to find direction in today's world so full of chaos.
I am amazed that almost each and every monument in the cemetery is adorned with engravings which carry religious and spiritual meaning. For example, we have for men a shelf of books, and for women, a charity box or a candelabra. These reflect the deep spiritual commitment of the Jews of Ozarow. Although the Jews of Ozarow struggled daily for their physical existence, their spiritual lives were rich and fulfilling.
As we observe and study the beautiful and artistic monuments of the cemetery of Ozarow, let us also reflect upon the profound spiritual message of these stone monuments, for us, the descendants.
May the hallowed lives of our ancestors serve as a beacon of light for the future, for all Ozarovers and for all of Jewry.
Rabbi Tanchum B. Becker
Esh Dat Rabbinical Seminary
Bnai Brak, Israel
Ozarow was a small Polish town, a shtetl, one of hundreds of such small towns scattered throughout Poland. However, in the Jewish world it was a metropolis, a city whose chassidic dynasty's influence was felt throughout Poland and the Jewish world.
To this very day, the word "Ozarow" is symbolic of scholarship and piety.
While the Tzadikim of Ozarow trace their lineage all the way back to King David, their own dynasty began with Rabbi Arye Yehuda Leib Halevi Epstein, better known as the Great Reb Leibush. Tradition has it that in approximately 1812 his teacher, the Seer of Lublin, urged him to become a spiritual leader in Ozarow. Rabbi Epstein's intense piety and high level of erudition forged the chassidic dynasty which has been linked with the name of this village ever since.
The last heir of this illustrious dynasty to serve in Ozarow was Rabbi Moshe Yechiel Halevi Epstein. He left Poland in the late 1920's, continued his activities in the Bronx for about 25 years, and then finally moved to Tel Aviv in 1953. His small study hall and synagogue on Rothschild Boulevard soon became an important center of Torah study and a spiritual home for all Ozarowers.
The Rebbe brought with him the first three volumes of his masterwork Esh Dat, which he printed in America. In the following years, until 1963, he published another eight volumes. Consecutively, Rabbi Moshe Yechiel produced a massive twelve volume commentary on the Torah and Early prophets called, Be'er Moshe.
In 1967 Rabbi Moshe Yechiel received the Israel Prize for Torah Literature. His Esh Dat-Be'er Moshe masterwork was also honored by the cities of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. He served for many years as President of the the Mo'etzet Gedolei ha-Torah (The Council of Great Torah Scholars) in Israel.
When he turned eighty years old, his grandson, Rabbi Tanchum B. Becker arrived in Jerusalem from America to study near his grandfather. After the Rebbe passed away the Chassidim asked Rabbi Becker to take over his grandfather's position, but he accepted only on the condition that a Kollel (School of Graduate Rabbinic Studies) be created in his grandfather's memory. Thus "Esh Dat" Rabbinical Seminary was born.
As the present spiritual leader of the Ozarower dynasty, Rabbi Becker supervizes the ongoing republication of his grandfather's writings. A biography of the dynasty, Belabat Esh was printed in Hebrew, in 1985. It contains much rich background information about the historic Ozarow.
Rabbi Becker is presently completing the building of the Ozarow Torah Center in Bnai Brak, which already includes various educational programs, a synagogue and a Mikvah. In September 2002, a Yeshiva Katana (High school) was founded for youth (ages 13-15). Since it's opening it has tripled in size.
The "New Ozarow" is blossoming and flourishing in Israel, thus preserving the rich heritage of Ozarow for future generations.
"Esh Dat" Rabbinical Seminary invites all Ozarowers and friends to help them to continue this dynamic growth and development. "Esh Dat" invites you to visit the "New Ozarow" during your next trip to Israel.
1. Rabbi Yehuda Arie Leib ha-Levi Epstein (?-1837), "The Great Leibush". Disciple of Rabbi Yakov Itzchak Rabbinowitch, "The Holy Jew" and of Rabbi Yakov Itzchak Horowitz, "The Seer of Lublin". Became the Rabbi of Ozarow in 1812. Passed away and was buried in Opole (Lubelskie).
2. Rabbi Yechiel Chaim ha-Levi Epstein (1820-1888), son of Rabbi Yehuda Arie Leib, o. b. m. Disciple of Rabbi Issachar Ber of Radoszyce and of Rabbi Abraham Twersky, "The Maggid of Trisk". Served as Rabbi in Opole, Opatow and Ozarow. Passed away and was buried in Cracow.
3. Rabbi Arie Yehuda Leib ha-Levi Epstein (1837-1914), "Rebbe Leibush the Second", son of Rabbi Yechiel Chaim, o.b.m. Disciple of Rabbi Elazar of Kozienice and of Rabbi Itzchak of Nezchis. Served as Rabbi in Tarlow, Jozefow, Chmjelnik and Ozarow. Some of his Chasidic discourses have been published in Birkat Tov (Bilgoraj, 1938). Passed away and was buried in Ozarow.
4. Rabbi Abraham Shlomo ha-Levi Epstein, (1865-1918), son of Rabbi Arie Yehuda Leib, o.b.m. Rabbi in Ozarow in 1888. Some of his Chasidic teachings were preserved and published in She'erit Bracha (Warsaw, 1938). Passed away and was buried in Opatow.
5. Rabbi Moshe Yechiel ha-Levi Epstein, (1890-1971), son of Rabbi Abraham Shlomo, o.b.m. Lived in New York from 1927 to 1953, after which he came to Israel and settled in Tel Aviv. Author of the monumental Esh Dat (11 volumes) and Be'er Moshe (12 volumes). One of the leading Rabbis of his generation, he received the Israel Prize for Torah Literature in 1968. Passed away in Tel Aviv and was buried in Bnai Brak.
6. Rabbi Tanchum Benyamin Becker, the present spiritual leader of the Ozarower Dynasty was born in the U.S. to Rabbi Moshe Yechiel's daughter, Miriam. Rabbi Tanchum B. Becker is the president of the Esh Dat Rabbinical Seminary and as such supervises the constant republication of his grandfather's writings and of other books related to the Ozarow dynasty. He is building the Ozarow Torah Center in Bnai Brak, which already includes various educational programs, a synagogue and a Mikve (ritual bath).