Retracing Historic Chicago Visit

By Rabbi Elchonon Ebert – Montebello, NY

In honor of the upcoming Chag HaGeula of 12-13 Tammuz, I would like to share some historical pictures, never before published, that show us a few details about the Frierdiker Rebbe’s visit to Chicago. (Note: it is unclear if this the visit in 5690/1930 or the visit in 5702/1942.)

Sometime in the early ’80s, I and a group of Chassidim (Rabbi Shmulik Liphsitz, Rabbi Yitzchok Wolf and Rabbi Boruch Gurewitz), researched the address of where the Firerdiker Rebbe נ”ע, stayed during one of his visits to Chicago. We have now confirmed this through checking the pictures in the Chabad Library Archive (here), that it was in fact the house.

We went there to say Tehillim. The owner at that time graciously allowed us into the house for a short visit, and gave us permission to daven on the porch and entrance way. The visit and the saying of Tehillim was, to say the least, very emotional. We all know that a place that spends time is holy and that kedusha is eternal. Subsequently, we sent in a Duch (report) along with the pictures to the Rebbe, זי”ע, and we received an immediate reply: ת”ח. = (t’shuos chein.)

We then went to an empty lot where the original Bnei Reuven Shul stood on the West Side of Chicago. The reason why it’s currently an empty lot is that, to the credit of Congregation Bnei Reuven, they refused to sell the Shul to a non-Jewish house of worship as many others did. In the early 60’s, Congregation Bnei Reuven, under the leadership of Rav Herschel Schusterman ע”ה, relocated to West Rodgers Park and is now a booming, dynamic Shul serving the Anash community, led by HaRav Boruch Hertz שליט”א.

It’s interesting to note, that many of the Frierdiker Rebbe’s supporters lived in Chicago, like the very famous Reb Yankel Katz, as well as Reb Avrohom Shayevitz who I personally remember Davening in Bnei Reuven in the 80’s, with him being well into his 90’s.

While on the subject of Chicago and shuls; Rav Shlomo Zalmen Hecht, ע”ה (son-in-law of Reb Yisroel Jacobson,) served as the Rov of Chicago’s “Warsaw Bikur Cholim Shul.” The Shul now is the Agudas Yisroel Shul and Agudah headquarters of Chicago.

We then went to the Tzemach Tzedek Shul (which is no longer in use as a Shul), which stands today at 1459 N. Talman Avenue in Chicago. Unfortunately, we could not enter that building.

[Ed. note: There was talk about the Frierdiker Rebbe actually stetting in Chicago, instead of New York.]

In general; along the Lake Michigan lakeshore, including Chicago and Wisconsin, lived numerous Lubavitcher Chassidim who fled Russia from the pogroms and settled there. The Frierdiker Rebbe נ”ע also visited Sheboygan, Wisconsin, 60 miles North of Milwaukee, during his 5689-1929 visit.

I had the opportunity to see the Shul where the Frierdiker Rebbe Farbrenged. in Sheboygan. It seems there was a large contingent of Chabad Chassidim there, which is why the Frierdiker Rebbe visited. Over the years I’ve met numerous Frum people whose ancestors lived there.

Unfortunately, I don’t have a photo of that Shul.

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  1. I think the shul might have moved to it’s curent location just before Rabbi Hershel Shusterman AH took over the leadership of the shul. I heard also that the Rebbe sent Rabbi Yitchok Groner AH to Chicago for a year to help facilitate the move, or to strengthen the shul while undergoing change of neighborhood etc.

  2. These visits were from the late eighties as the age dosent match up to be earlier then that.
    Also correct spelling is Shmuel Lipszyc

  3. Thank you to the shliach of Montebello, NY, for this fascinating and informative article. My family enjoyed both the article and pictures. I understand the community of Montebello is grown exponentially. Keep up the good work of spreading Chasidus , the light of Chasidus, in Rockland Cty, NY.

  4. That picture is not the Shul where the Frierdiker Rebbe davened or delivered Maamarim. That’s the Roumanishe Shul on Douglas Blvd. The Frierdiker Rebbe davened and delivered Maamarim at Anshei Lubavitch, one block south of Douglas Blvd, at 1500 S. Drake Ave.

  5. Thank you Yerachmial for your comments
    To clarify I am not the official shliach
    Rabbi Ganz is. His outreach is to the unaffiliated Jews of Montebello. Montebello is now the fastest growing frum area in Rockland county — Monsey,fast becoming chasidish it is an upscale area. BH it gives me the opportunity to spread chasidus.Just last week we had a fabrengen at Rabbi Halberstam shtibel (a grandson of Grand Rabbi Ben Zion Halberstam yenokem domo ztl of bobov Poland) It is the first Chasidish shteibel in Montebello.This week will see a second minyan giving me the opportunity to spread chasidus .Hopefully when the area builds up in frum yidden we can establish a Chabad minyan catering to everyone. Just an interesting side note I have become friendly with the Conservative Rabbi who is shomer shabbos a grandson of Rabbi Louis Finkelstein ah chancellor of the Jewish Theological Seminary The RebbeZya put major Kochos into trying to influence his grand father to bring the Conservative faction back to hakachic practice it is a long story in itself .I heard this fascinating fact From Rabbi YY Jacobson Conservative Shuls had mechitzas back in the early part of the twentieth century in fact the seminary had a mechitza in there sanctuary till recently . It is no wonder that the Rebbe Zya would reach out to try to bring the wayward movement back.

  6. To avrohom thanks for the feedback
    The picture was researched with the younger Rabbi Oberlander librarian at Heichal Menachem in Monsey
    It is listed on the Chabad archives as one of the shuls the freidiker Rebbe zl fabrengend
    The more comments posted the more we realize how extensive the Chabad chasidim presence in the Chicago area
    It is sad but because of the lack of chinuch generations have been lost
    My father ah who grew up in Brownsville and was one of the few who was zoche to go to Chayim Berlin yeshiva told me that even yeshiva education was no garauntee of remaining frum. He credits his becoming a Rav to the fact that he joined Tiferes Bachurim led by Rabbi Jacobson that influenced him even though he was a musmach of Chayim Berlin. His sister also who married a prominent litvich Rosh Yeshiva Rav Yisroel Spinner ah also credits her belonging to the Lubavitcher girls group to influencing her . It seems that many boys although not remaining Lubavitcher who were involved in chinuch later were greatly influenced by Rabbi Jacobson zl In the words of my father ah many youth were warmed up to yidishkeit by the fabrengen and learning chasidus with Rabbi Jacobson zl and if not for that the yeshiva education might not have kept them frum . 99percent of Jewish kids were in public schools
    Influencing those who did attend yeshiva

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