Thursday, July 05, 2007

A Living Faith

The rebbe's home, adjacent to the shul in the courtyard. On, Lag B'Omer, the Belzers light enormous bonfires in the courtyard and the Rebbe delivers a sermon from his balcony.

Aside from the main sanctuary which is used only on Shabbat and holidays, the lower floors contain an additional 12 shuls, all of them in rotating use. One can come here any time of day or night and find a minyan (prayer group.) There is also a wedding hall, in which all Belzers use the same caterer at the same cost to prevent people from outdoing one another, which might cause jealousy and strife in the community. It is also home to a beit din (court of Jewish law,) and a study hall. Nobody keeps track of exactly how many thousands of people pass through in a given day, but in the study hall and shuls one can obtain free coffee, and an average of 7,000 cups of coffee are served daily.

(The following photos are from Belz in Pictures.)

Visiting the rebbe.

Chol Hamoed Sukkot in the shul.

Visiting the Rebbe's Tisch (table.)

But by far the most heartening fact of the Belzer Beis HaMedrash HaGadol, beyond it's mere size, is that it is in constant use. Unlike the old churches and cathedrals of Europe, empty monuments to a formerly vigorous European Christian society today in its demographic death throes, the new Belzer building is center of a rapidly expanding community. Having survived physical extermination of the Nazi death camps and the spiritual challenges of assimilation and secular nationalism, Hassidut is today on the upswing worldwide.

Reading from the Torah

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