Skverer Rebbe Revisits Slovakia


skverer-rebbeRav Dovid Twersky, the Skverer Rebbe, traveled to Europe, on Sunday, June 20, for three weeks. The Rebbe and entourage will spend the two Shabbasos in Pressburg (Bratislava). The Rebbe will return to New York on Thursday, July 8. Skverer Chassidim from Austria, England, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy and elsewhere, will participate in the two very special Shabbasos in Pressburg.

A special celebration that will occur during this visit is the Bar Mitzvah of a grandson, Mordechai Twersky, son of Rabbi Yaakov Yitzchok Twersky. The Bar Mitzvah boy is also a grandson of Rabbi Yeshaya Twersky, Chernobler Rebbe.Jewish Slovakia Today

The Slovak Republic peacefully seceded from Czechoslovakia and became an independent country in 1993. Rudolf Schuster, former mayor of Kosice (Kashau) and charismatic leader of Slovakia’s ruling coalition Party of Civic Understanding (SOP), was elected as the second president of the Slovak Republic in 1999 and served until 2004.

The first Slovak Republic, though short-lived, was established in 1939, and was in reality a Nazi puppet state run by Fascists who collaborated with German policies that included the deportation of Jews. That period in Slovak history is viewed today by most Slovaks with mixed feelings, since what was to be a joyous occasion of independence signaling the birth of a nation and the freedom of a peoples, is overshadowed by the atrocities sponsored by Nazi Germany.

The majority of today’s Slovakian Jews, almost 4,000 souls, live in Bratislava, also known as Pressburg, with a Jewish population of about 1,000; in Kosice, Jewish population of 700; and also in Presov, Nove Zamky, Komarna, Dunajska Streda, Galanta, Nitra, Trnava, and other towns.

Slovakia represents the smallest Holocaust-surviving community in Europe, and its 4,000 members of the Jewish population are mostly senior citizens. Many younger people have rediscovered their Jewish origins and are the most visible remains of the once glorious Jewish past. Religious observance is increasing and children are returning to the community and studying Judaism. In 1993, Rabbi Boruch Myers, a native of Brooklyn and a disciple of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, zt”l, became Rav of Pressburg.

Slovakia has many sites of intense Jewish interest. One of them is the recently (2001) renovated ma’arah (underground mausoleum) in Bratislava, which contains the resting places of many great rabbis, including Rabbi Moshe Sofer, zt”l (1763-1839), Pressburger Rav and revered author of Chasam Sofer, who founded and led the leading Yeshiva in Europe. Slovakia has approximately 200 operating synagogues and 620 Jewish cemeteries around the country, vestiges of the more than 1,500 pre-WWII Jewish congregations.

The Rebbe’s 2002 Meeting With The President Of Slovakia

The Skverer Rebbe visited Pressburg in early 2003, and during his second visit in July 2003, Mayor Wagner approached the Rebbe, advising that the Slovakian Government desired to formally receive the Skverer Rebbe as a VIP (Very Important Person). Ronald Weiser, the then United States Ambassador to the Slovak Republic, helped facilitate the request. The Slovakian Jewish community also felt that the formal reception would help strengthen its activities and help protect, preserve, and rehabilitate its oldshuls and cemeteries.

On Tuesday, July 15, 2003, an official limousine brought the Rebbe to the gates of the Presidential Palace where two honor guards stood at the ready. The gates swung open and the Rebbe disembarked from the limousine onto a red carpet that led to the doors of the palace where the Slovakian President waited with his diplomatic corps. As the Rebbe was escorted towards the Palace, the President came to officially greet him. After warm introductions, the President asked the Rebbe which language would be preferable, English or German. The Rebbe indicated that he would speak in Yiddish.

The president led the Rebbe into the historic formal reception room. The Rebbe was seated next to the president. Also in attendance were the Slovakian Minister of Interior, and staff members as well as U.S. Ambassador Ronald Weiser and his assistants. The table was set with light refreshments that were especially brought from Israel under the hashgachah of the Edah HaCharedis Badatz of Jerusalem.

The meeting opened with a review of Slovakia’s Jewish history, dating back more than 700 years, when Bratislava had more than 900 Jewish inhabitants, representing a considerable population percentage at the time. Throughout the years, Jews were welcomed both as residents and as guests. Sadly, during WWII, more than 150,000 Slovakian Jews were murdered. However, the present climate is a warm and welcoming one.

Speaking in Yiddish, the Rebbe shared with the President that Slovakia’s large cities are well known in Skver, as many of its leaders were raised in Bratislava, Nitra, Serdehaly, etc. The Rebbe praised present-day Slovakia where everyone is accorded equal rights. The Rebbe thanked the president and told of how Jewish visitors are given every courtesy and assistance throughout Slovakia. The Rebbe told of the glowing praise given by Rabbi Baruch Myers.

The then 70-year-old President responded, declaring that Slovakia regrets and apologizes for the terrible crimes committed against Jews during the Holocaust. President Schuster stressed that Slovakia, since its independence, has exerted every effort to ensure that its Jewish citizenry is accorded full rights and privileges. As Ambassador to Canada representing Czechoslovakia, President Schuster was active in Jewish community affairs there.

The Slovakian President further proudly stressed to the Rebbe that Slovakia, at that time, was amongst the strongest supporters of President George W. Bush and the United States, fully backing the military actions found necessary. Recalling his visit with President Bush in 2002, President Schuster shared that the event was the pinnacle of his presidency. The Rebbe, on behalf of all American citizens, thanked President Schuster for his moral support and blessed him, asking Heaven to make his presidency great and bless Slovakia with economic growth to become a leading example of prosperity and protection of minorities.

The president told of his governorship of Slovakia’s second largest city, of his allocating government monies to restore old Jewish cemeteries and his meetings with many rabbis. However, the president acknowledged, the meeting with the Rebbe surpassed all others. In parting, the president escorted the Rebbe all the way to the limousine, giving great honor and expressing thankfulness for the exceptional privilege of the visit.

{Rabbi G Tannenbaum/ Newscenter}


  1. The rabba is a real leader of Klal yisroel he give himself away for every people suggestions biruchnies and bigoshmeis almost all night. And all kinds of people wait hours to get in to the rebbe.and every one comes out with from the rabbas room. hashem should give him arichas yamim tovim. Amen