We regret to inform you of the passing of the Skulener Rebbe, Rav Yisroel Avrohom Portugal, zt“l, at the age of 95. He was niftar Monday afternoon at John Hopkins University Hospital in Baltimore where he had been hospitalized for nearly two months.
The Skulener Rebbe was born in 5683/1923 in Skulen, Romania, and was the son of Rav Eliezer Zusia Portugal zt“l, who founded the Skulener Chassidus. As a bochur he studied at the Vizhnitzer Yeshiva in Bukovina. He survived the horrors of the Holocaust, returning to Romania to help his father raise hundreds of orphans as if they were his own.
In 5719/1959, Rav Eliezer Zusia and Rav Yisroel Avrohom were imprisoned for spreading Yiddishkeit in Communist Romania. Much has been written about the Rebbe’s help to get them out of there, after all hope was already lost and all diplomatic channels exhausted.
In 5720/1960 they were allowed to leave Romania, and Rav Eliezer Zusia opened his shul on Crown Street, in Crown Heights. The Skulener Rebbe and his son would daven in 770 during the week, where they were both accorded great honor.
Rav Eliezer Zusia passed away in 5742/1982 and was succeeded by his son Rav Yisroel Avrohom.
The Skulener Rebbe came to be menachemavelthe Rebbe after Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka’s histalkus. The Rebbe told the Skulener Rebbe that of course he knew about “the connection between Skulen and Lubavitch b’medinahhahi,” that country, referring to the Soviet Union.
In 5771/2011 he visited kivrei avos in Moldavia, and paid a visit to his old friend, the late shliachReb Zalman Abelski. In 5772 he invited a delegation of Lubavitcher rabbonim and askonimto his home and met with them about joining the large gathering that was to be held at Citifield.