Kiryas Joel will celebrate the liberation of the Satmar Grand Rebbe

On Saturday December 4th, Satmar communities around the world will celebrate the “Day of Rescue”, commemorating the 60th anniversary of the day of the liberation of Rabbi Joel Teitlebaum of Satmar (1887-1979) from the Bergen-Belsen Concentration Camp. In Kiryas Joel, celebrations will be led by Rebbe Aron Teitlebaum, grand nephew of Rabbi Teitlebaum and the spiritual leader of our community.

Rabbi Teitlebaum was held in Bergen-Belsen from July of 1944 until his release.  During that period he provided spiritual leadership to both the Orthodox and non-observant Jews being held captive in the camp.  Published writings from others held in the camp refer to how the Rebbe led by example, somehow staying clean and vermin free, praying studying and amazing all with “his majesty and wonderful appearance.”

During his captivity, Rabbi Teitlebaum paid close attention to what little war news could be obtained, but consistently “we still need great mercy from Heaven to be able to be liberated from here alive. His leading of the Yom Kippur Musaf Service even moved the famous Hungarian Jewish playwright Bela Zholt, an admittedly cynical and assimilated Jew.

Upon the release of the captives in December of 1944, they were taken to Switzerland.  As the group of more than 1,300 people including various famous personalities from the Hungarian Jewish community was marched to the barracks where they were to be housed, local Jews threw apples and sweets and called out not for the famous citizens, but for the Satmar Rebbe.  It was this force of personality that allowed him to bring together the remnants of the Satmar community after the war, and led to its dramatic revitalization.

Today, Kiryas Joel (the Village of Joel) is a vibrant, growing community and stands as a tribute to this spiritual and fascinating man.  There is good reason for the joyous celebrating that will happen on this anniversary of the Day of Rescue and all the residents of the community will be joining with Rabbi Aron Teitlebaum to celebrate this happy day.




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