By COLlive reporter
Over 90 ninety years ago, the Frierdiker Rebbe visited American cities like Baltimore, Chicago, and S. Louis. Not so much is known about his historic visit to the South Bronx which comprises today the neighborhoods of Concourse, Mott Haven, Melrose, and Port Morris.
After leaving Russia in 1927, the Rebbe had traveled to America, to help with the spiritual welfare of Yiddishkeit with the possibility of finding a suitable location for the new headquarters of Chabad Chassidus. Ultimately, the Frierdiker Rebbe chose to remain in Europe to be near his Chassidim in Russia.
It is little wonder that the Rebbe considered relocating to the South Bronx after receiving an invitation from the community in the South Bronx. In the 1920’s the South Bronx was called “The Jewish Borough.” It was bursting with Shtiblach, Judaica stores and Kosher stores all along the Third Avenue El Track line and other main streets.
There were many Tzemach Tzedek and Nusach Ari shuls in the area. Many close Chassidim of the Frierdiker Rebbe lived there, including Rabbi Shraga Feivish Wieler, and Yaakov Leib Jacobson, the father of Rabbi Yisroel Jacobson.
It is not surprising that it is here that the Frierdiker Rebbe chose to spend Shavuos. At that time, he recited two Ma’amarim, “Behar Sinai” and “Anochi Hashem Elokecha”. Since a Ma’amar is commonly said before very devoted chassidim, it is assumed that the listeners there had a strong comprehension of Chabad Chassidic teachings.
The shul where the Rebbe recited the Ma’amarim was identified with the help of the introduction by Rabbi Aaron L. Raskin to Sefer Hasichos 5688-5691. It is still standing today on a nice, quiet street, on East 172nd between two famous Bronx parks– Claremont Park and Crotona Park– although most of the neighboring buildings from that period have been torn down.
Over the years, Chabad chassidim have been active in the South Bronx. Rabbi Mordechai Altein established a branch of the famed Achei Temimim Yeshiva, “with a very great English program,” as Henry Kessler, a graduate of the Yeshiva and business owner in the Bronx still talks about with pride. In 1992, Rabbi Levi and Sara Shemtov were sent by the Rebbe to Riverdale, to take responsibility for Yiddishkeit in the Bronx borough.
Now, to the present. The Shemtovs brought down Rabbi Choli and Chana Mushka Mishulovin who have been canvasing the South Bronx for opportunities for a revival of Yiddishkeit.
They found that there is still a Jewish presence in the area, which can be built upon with the proper dedication. The Mishulovins have made it their mission to bring the light of Torah and Mitzvos to this area which was described as the epitome of “dirah b’tachtonim’ (making a home for Hashem in this world).
From the descendants of the over 600,000 Jews who lived and grew up in this lovely borough so rich in yiddishkeit, the Mishulovins have received messages like this one as recently as last week:
“Hello! I love this ‘Back to the Bronx’ theme. I am so excited to see you reignite Yiddishkeit in an area that used to have a lot of it. I am a fourth-generation Bronxite on one side, and a third generation on the other. While I grew up in Riverdale, my parents talk about a time when shtiebels, shuls and kosher delis and dairy restaurants covered the whole borough.”
The Mishulovins say this is a timely lesson for the days following Hei Teves: The Rebbe said that the court cases remind us that a tzadik’s life is not old history and relics of the past, as in a museum.
“Our history is eternal and must be living and growing, as it says “Holiness doesn’t depart from its place.” With its special and warm Jewish history and the recent urban renewal of the borough, the kedusha will surely be back, “returning to its host”,” they said.
Help the Mishulovins in their effort to reach their goal of $60,000 to grow and strengthen Yiddishkeit in the South Bronx at charidy.com/southbronx
If you have any info about the Frierdiker Rebbe or the Rebbe in connection to the Bronx, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Amazing work! let’s do this!
Hatzlacha Rabba, beautiful work in a borough that could use light.
Just incredible. So inspiring. Keep up the great work Mishulovins
The Mishulovins are definitely sharing the “lovin” and their simcha with the Jews of the Bronx. Their ahavas yisrael is exemplary, and you can see the chinuch THEY received by seeing the special way they parent. Their children, albeit young, feel like (and are!) an integral part of their shlichus. As someone who went out on shlichus almost 25 years ago, I feel a sense of optimism and pride when I see this shining light of the next generation. If Moshiach shows up at Chabad South Bronx first, I wouldn’t be surprised!
Keep up the amazing work!
the maamorim the frierdike Rebbe said in America were not necessarily deep concepts of chasidus, rather basic concepts that laymen cold understand even, if they didn’t have strong comprehension of Chabad Chassidic teachings.
Rabbi Yisroel Jacobson’s book Zikoren Levnei Yisroel he describes the chashuvai anash that lived in the Bronx and there was a vacuum in Brownsville of scholars when Rabbi Sharga Veiler moved from there to the Bronx where there were other chushvei anash, read this letter from FR addressed to Rabbi Veiler and the nusach ari shul in the Bronx. https://chabadlibrary.org/books/maharyatz/ig/14/5190.htm You have to remember we are talking about Russian immigrants that learnt in the chedarim in lubavich or and other yeshivas not necessarily their children who grew up in America. Rabbi Chaim Dalfin is coming out with a great book… Read more »
I love the Challa that Chana makes every week, and when Rabbi Choli sings his melodic tunes they bring me back to my bubbies home on Shabbat evening. The kids are great too, especially when they act in the holiday videos and sing Ma Nishtanah.
I grew up in the Bronx, but I don’t have such wonderful memories of it. My father was a kosher butcher in Pelham Pkwy. for a while. The neighborhoods I lived in were always changing. I could go on & on….. I can only wish bracha v’hatzlacha to the Mishulovins on their shlichus.
I grew up in the Bronx but do not have good memories of it. My father had a kosher butcher store in Pelham Parkway for a while.The neighborhoods I lived in were always changing. I only wish the Mishulovins bracha v’ hatzlacha on their schlichus.
Hatzlacha raba to the most dedicated shluchim!
The four Mish kids are the stars of the show but their mother and father are not too shabby, either! So proud of what Choli and Chana Mushka are accomplishing, one precious neshama at a time! They live, breathe, think and feel their Shlichus 24/7. I hope they accomplish their goal of raising the 60k+.
I ran the marathon for Friendship Circle and got a big shout out when I passed the marathon station. The runner at 1:23 is Kamal Julka. On the back of the cape she is wearing it says “I have Parkinsons and Epilepsy. If I can do it so can you”. Kamal competed the marathon. If she can do that you can do some sort of exercise for 20 minutes a day!
אברכך שתצליח למעלה מן המשוער שכולם יכירו ויודעו ש השלוחים של הרבי מהפכים את העולם.
Thank you for sharing this beautiful history. Chana Mushka and Choli are incredible shluchim and happy to support their work.
The Mishulovin’s are doing amazing work! Such dedicated shluchim.
The article is fascinating.
I really enjoy revisiting the stories of the bible I grew up learning in Hebrew School, and hearing with light of Bal Shem tov whom I knew very little about.
Chana and Cholli are amazing, their knowlegde of Chassidut and Tania as well as the simpleness to teach these concepts is fantastic, they are the best and if you are in the S. Bronx you should definitly join in!
They are both amazing people, an example of what shluchim are! Keep the amazing work!!!!!!!