The Stories Behind the Cards

The cards filled out for ‘Sefer Hachassidim’ and just recently published for the first time by the Central Chabad Library contain many fascinating stories and vignettes, shedding light on the lives and personalities of many chassidim.

By Anash.org reporter

The cards filled out for ‘Sefer Hachassidim’ and just recently published for the first time by the Central Chabad Library contain many fascinating stories and vignettes, shedding light on the lives and personalities of many chassidim.

Each card contains the names of the chossid who filled out the card, together with the names of their family members, their date and place of birth, and the period of their study at Chabad yeshivas.

The newly released information sheds light on the history of hundreds of Chabad families, giving them a glimpse into the lives of their grandparents, uncles, aunts and family members.

Anash.org chose a sampling of some of the most interesting to read and enjoy.

“A Friendly Connection”

One card was filled out by Harav Meir Abuhatzeira, the Baba Meir, son of the renowned Baba Sali.

The Baba Meir had a close relationship with the Rebbe. Throughout the decades, they exchanged many letters, and the Baba Meir signed on many proclamations encouraging his followers to fulfill the Rebbe’s mivtzoim.

It is unclear why the Baba Meir filled out the card, being that he was not a Lubavitcher per se. In the line where one had to write his connection to Chabad, the Baba Meir wrote “a friendly connection”.

Don’t Forget my Brother Shlomo!

The card filled out by Rabbi Eli Chaim Carlebach is for the most part unremarkable. The names, dates and information is similar to the tens of other cards in the collection.

What catches the attention is one line at the very end of the card, after the signature.

“Don’t forget my brother Shlomo, my twin,” he writes, referring to Shlomo Carlebach, who by then had long left the Lubavitch movement. The line seems to be calling out to the Rebbe, pleading that despite all, his brother be kept in mind. “His information is the same as mine!”

Now, From Hashem, Without Any Keli

Rabbi Zalman Duchman was an unforgettable chossid, known for being a shadar, chazzan and a storyteller.

His personality shines across even in the short few lines recorded on the small card. One of the questions asks about the current occupation of the one filling out the questionnaire.

Reb Zalman writes “First trade, then working, and now [I receive sustenance] from Hashem without a keli – utensil.

In a Ghetto, a Concentration Camp and the Forests.

At the bottom of each card, a line was printed, requesting that if one had any additional important information, they should write in on a separate card.

While not too many chassidim filled out an additional paper, the ones that did provided invaluable historical information. One of the most striking is the letter included by Reb Zushe Wilmovsky, known as Reb Zushe Partisan.

The letter is brief, but when reading it, one can get a sense of the intensity in the words.

“I was in the ghettos, in a concentration camp, and then in the Russian forests,” he writes, before describing his years in Eretz Yisroel.

I Didn’t Learn

After arriving in USA, Harav Yeshaya HaKohen Matlin merited to be the Rebbe’s sofer, who the Rebbe entrusted to check his tefillin. He also was one of the select individuals who the Rebbe sent Shaloch Manos to.

In his card, one line catches the eye. Where one was supposed to fill out where they had learned in yeshiva, Reb Yeshaya simply wrote “I didn’t learn [in a yeshiva].”

One of the First Ten Temimim

“I was one of the first ten temimim with whom the yeshiva of Tomchei Temimim in America was founded, at the instruction of the Frierdiker Rebbe,” wrote Harav Avrohom Dov Hecht.

Rabi Hecht, who later became one of the most prominent rabbis in North America and the leader of the largest Sephardic shul in the U.S.A., always recalled the great merit he had in being one of the first ten, and that pride is clearly evident on the card he filled out.

Did you discover any new information or fascinating story in the cards? Let us know in the comments below!

Discussion
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  1. R Yochanan Gordon must have been feeling grumpy in his card. He described himself as unemployed, although, of course, he had a long career as a shochet ubodek.

  2. In Reb Chaim Kozliners card he notes on bottom not to publish the addresses in Russia in the sefer, for obvious reasons.

    1. Many of the cards are written by the same person, writing on behalf of the Chassidim in Russia. Their address being just “Russia”.

  3. R’ Sholom Hecht OBM that just passed away last week writes on his card that he was a tomim in Tomchei Tmimin from year… to year “till Moshiach comes”.

  4. BH

    I would like to make note of a few things in regards to these new cards that were put out on the Sefer Chassidim.

    1. It is very clear from numerous Family members, that not all cards are accurate, and one cannot clean all the time accurate historical information.

    This is especially the case in regards to the cards written for Chassidim in Russia, where they were filled out by others in Israel.

    However, the same thing is in regards to other places, where the cards were filled out by others.

    2. it is not clear who sent in cards and who did not.

    We have names of people like Aurbach (a nephew of Reb Shlomo Zalman), and on the other hand my grandfather Reb Zalman Klieman is not in this book.

    Neither are many Chassidim from Montreal or Crown heights to be found in these cards.

    3. Strangely a number of entries were updated years later. For instance, My wife’s grandfather, Reb Bentzion Hackner, sent in an entry as a Bochur in Chof Gimmul, and then again sent in an update in Tof Shin Mem.

    1. BH
      I received the following message:

      את ר’ ש”ז אויערבאך הכרתי באופן אישי היה יהודי שנחשב חסיד חב”ד והיה מתפלל בבית כנסת חב”ד בשכונת בית ישראל בירושלים ושימש כבעל תפילה בימים נוראים הרבה שנים.

      איני יודע ההיסטוריה שלו, הייתי בגיל צעיר

      However there are others there, which while they were close to Lubavitchers, were not Lubavitchers.

      For instance Rav Yitzchok Yedidya Frenkel.

    2. R’ Shlomo Zalman Aurbach (the nephew) was very close to Lubavitch as a bochur, and even in his later years when he was a rosh yeshiva in a Litvishe yeshiva, he would daven with Sidur Tehilas Hashem and Chabad Talis. He also made sure to buy letters in the children’s Sefer Torah for all his grandkids without them knowing.

      1. BH

        Interesting. Thank you.

        Where was he a Rosh Yeshiva? and do his grandkids consider themselves close to chabad?

  5. Just wondering how is it permissible to publicize these cards when some info is private and would likely not be the will of those who wrote it to be publicized.

  6. About R. Eli Chaim Carlebach adding: “Don’t forget my brother Shlomo, my twin,” who has the same information. In 1963, Reb Shlomo was still in touch with the Rebbe.

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