Rav Shmuel Salant, Rav of Yerushalayim (1816-1909). Born in Bialystok, Russia, his father passed away soon afterwards, and he was sent off to study in Salant, Lithuania, where it had already been arranged that he would eventually marry Toiba, the oldest daughter of Rav Yosef Zundel of Salant, from whom Rav Shmuel took his surname. Soon after his marriage, Rav Shmuel moved to Volozhin, where he was appointed magid shiur. He made aliyah in 1841. From 1848 to 1851, Rav Shmuel served the Yerushalayim community as a meshulach. In 1878, he was voted as the chief Ashkenazi Rav of Yerushalayim to replace Rav Meir Auerbach who had just passed away. Rav Shmuel Salant managed to unify the many groups of Azhkenazim of Yerushalayim, and to lead them successfully for 50 years.
Rav Menachem Mendel Alter of Pavinitz (1942)
Rav Eliezer Zusia Portugal, the Skulener Rebbe (1897-1982), from a small town, Sculeni (Skulen), in what was then northeastern Romania (now Ukraine). Just 18 years of age when his father dies, he became Rav of the town, a position he held for 20 years. The Sadigerer Rebbe, who persuaded the Rebbe to relocate to the large Jewish center of Chernovitz, home to a Jewish population numbering many thousands, to oversee Jewish education there. Toward the end of World War II, in March of 1945, he found himself, along with other holocaust survivors and displaced persons, in the Russian-governed town of Czernovitz, Bukovina. Rav Portugal was particularly known for his work on behalf of Holocaust orphans and for his spiritual resistance against Romania’s communist government. In 1962, he launched the crowning glory of his life’s work – the Torah network of Chesed L’Avraham in Eretz Yisrael, which eventually expanded to four Chesed homes and schools for hundreds of children from various tragic backgrounds, as well as a countrywide network of afternoon programs for children in public schools. More than 50,000 children have gone through its ranks.
Rav Yosef Meir Twersky of Machnovka (1857), son of Rav Avraham Yehoshua Geshel from Skvira. Machnovka is located in western Ukraine, 13 miles SSE of Berditchev and 96 miles SW of Kiev. It is situated along the west bank of the Gnilopyat River. It was within the “Pale of Settlement” of the Russian Empire. In the census of 1897, the village of Makhnovka had 2,435 Jews out of a total population of 5,343 (about 45%). In 1939, the Jewish population of Makhnovka was 843. The Germans captured the town on July 14, 1941 and on the 9th of September executed 835 Jews in the Zhezhlevsk forest. A ghetto was then set up for the few hundred Jews still in the area. They were all murdered in a number of “Aktions” in 1942.
Rav Shmuel Sperber (1905-1985). Born in Brasov, Transylvania, where his father, Rav Dovid, was the rabbi. As a youth, Shmuel studied in the yeshivos of Oyber-Visheve, Hungary under the tutelage of Rav Eliezer Dovid Gruenwald and Rav Mendel Hager. After receiving semichah and marrying, Rav Sperber lived in Iasi, Romania. In 1931, after being attacked by anti-Semites, he decided to leave Romania and settle in England. There, he enrolled in law school at the University of London and also founded a yeshiva, Ohr Torah. With the arrival in England of the large transports of German-Jewish children on the eve of the Holocaust, Rav Sperber became actively involved in comforting and educating them. At this same time, Rav Sperber became active in the Mizrachi movement, and he opened a camp in North Wales to prepare approximately 200 children for life on a kibbutz. Later he moved to Manchester, where he continued to work with youth, and then back to London to become
an adjunct professor at the University of London. In 1971, Rav Sperber settled in Israel. One of his sons is the author of a multi-volume work on the history of minhagim and of unusual ritual objects.
Today in History – 29 Av
· 17 Jews were burned at the stake in Silesia (now Poland and/or Czech Republic), 1453.
· The Jews were evicted from Russia, 1742, by Empress Elisabeth.
· 50,000 Jews of Holland were emancipated, 1796.
· Public whipping of the brothers Rav Shmuel Abba and Rav Pinchas Shapiro, proprietors of the Salvita Printing Press, on trumped-up charges of murdering a fellow Jew, 1839. Badly beaten, they both survived. They were released from prison in 1857, when Czar Alexander II assumed power.
· Nazis passed a law requiring all Jews to take the names Israel and Sara, 1938.
· Rav Eliyahu Shlomo Raanan, hy”d, murdered in Chevron by Arab terrorist, 1998.