Monday, May 16, 2011

The Calamity of May 14, 1948

Chabad never took Israel's Independence Day as a holiday. In fact, they deem it a disaster for that day marks a formal rejection of divine providence in a tremendous, historical event - like a child who spurns the love of his father! For example, when deliberating on the wording of Israel's Declaration of Independence, the word "G-d" was deliberately excluded (in contrast to its American counterpart)!

Another most important reason it meets with Chabad's revulsion
- is the subject of this post.

Here's a segment translated from Kfar Chabad magazine (Supplement, Pesach 5765, pp. 73-5).

The Zionist Crisis
"They had a personal connection to the Rebbe and to Chabad, almost an intimate one," said Mrs. Shulzinger, wife of the younger brother, Shlomo. "I know this for sure, even though my knowledge on this topic is slight." Her husband passed away 3 months ago. "There's nobody today who can tell the story," she says, with a tinge of sorrow in her voice. "I know they printed most of Chabad's literature, and they were very close to the Rebbe. Thanks to this connection, my husband and I visited Kfar Chabad. The one story I know of, I heard from my husband, a"h. This is the story that led to their break with the Rebbe. This occurred when they printed for the Chabad movement their usual, yearly calendar, and discovered, to their surprise, the epithet 'Independence Day' missing next to the 5th of Iyar. The brother, Shmuel, got to the Rebbe and said, 'Had I known you'd remove Independence Day, I'd not have printed the calendar at all!' When the Rebbe took his time to respond, Shmuel said, 'If the Rebbe has no answer, or if he doesn't want to respond - I'll leave and break the relationship!' Just as Shmuel turned to leave, the Rebbe called him back. He requested he at least put a coin in the pushke so the relationship persist."

Their attachment to Independence Day had to do with the state's establishment in 1948. The brothers made Aliyah, and, according to Mrs. Shulzinger, her brother-in-law, Michel, partnered in the Zionist organization "The Workers Movement".

This episode regarding Independence Day was also described elaborately by Rabbi Yehoshua Dubrovsky:
"I worked at that time in the printing house of the Shulzinger brothers - a firm that became well-known because of the huge quantity of books they published and because of the quality of their binding, using 'fine ink on fine paper', a motto they engendered in the Jewish community. Both owners, Michel and Shmuel Shulzinger, merited to publish the lion's share of the enormous output of Chabad chassidut put out by the Previous Rebbe and the Rebbe, in the aftermath of Europe's wreckage.

"In those days the Shulzinger brothers invested heavily on publishing various books (on chassidut, education, flyers, etc.), over $30,000 a year - a fortune at the time. And, if truth be told, I want to add, that more than once they actually 'went nuts' to fulfil the Rebbe's will, as for example, to publish a book or pamphlet as fast as possible, sometimes even faster than physically possible - because in those days editing press layout involved handling solid leaden letters. As a result of their exertions, they enjoyed the warm affiliation of the Previous Rebbe, and, naturally thereafter, of our Rebbe.

More Stringent than Satmar
"The thing was, that they themselves were hard-line Zionists, and, as such, blocked any osmosis of the inner essence extended them by our Rebbeim's outreach. Here's how it happened. One day, upon my arrival into the print house, the Shulzinger brothers pounced on me with yells and complaints, as if I did something wrong. The sore point that enraged them was this: 'We never thought the Rebbe was all that stringent, why he's even stricter than the Satmars....' Well, what happened and why the raucous ....? It took a while before they calmed down, and only then could they finally relate what happened, and here it is:

"At that time the Shulzinger brothers were pioneers, for a while, in fact, the only ones, in publishing Jewish calendars. Jewish organizations were their dedicated clientele. Lubavitch too ordered these calenders from them. At that time, Rabbi Chadakov, the Rebbe's secretary, would carefully inspect all that was printed in Lubavitch circles.

"The Shulzingers had a strong commitment to mark Independence Day in their calendars (on 5 Iyar). When the calendar's draft was brought to Rabbi Chadakov to inspect for sign-off, he noticed the "extra" two words "Independence Day" on that day, and then erased them well leaving no trace of them.

"When the draft returned to the brothers and they saw the sensational omission, they first turned flustered, which then turned to outright anger, for something they would not tolerate. Immediately they set off to 770, entered Rabbi Chadakov's small room, and shouting began to echo. Marking this day, they argued, was sacred for them, etc.

They Impeded the Redemption for Tens of Years!
"Rabbi Chadakov, with his usual calm, listened until the end, then answered them resolutely that in a Lubavitch publication such notation has no place. Without arguing, he told them that if they insist on its placement out of principle, the order is cancelled.

"The brothers realized they were wasting their energies on the wrong person. One of them I heard say, 'Talking to this "Yekke" is like talking to a wall.' They decided to go to the higher authority.

"In those years it was still rather easier to gain entrance to the Rebbe, especially for those who previously enjoyed such privileges. In rather short time, they were given entry to the Rebbe's sacred chamber. And here's roughly how the Shulzinger brothers described to me what happened that day:

"Firstly, they asked, 'How could such a day - of independence - be erased from the calendar? After all, many people say that day, in fact, marks the beginning of the Redemption process!' 'G-d forbid, that was not the start of the Redemption process!' The brothers then said, 'okay, maybe it's not its beginning, but certainly it was a day of salvation and to some extent a redemptive process for Jews! Why then erase this day from the calendar?'

"Again the Rebbe answered forcefully, 'No, this was definitely not a day of salvation or redemption for Jews!' He used other such terms I no longer remember. The brothers weren't satisfied, and raised their voices. They told me this themselves. They tried 'begging' the Rebbe, saying even if it wasn't an actual salvation, at least it was a happy occasion, a sign of liberation, or the like. I think at this point the Rebbe also raised his voice - as the yeshiva students then studying in the nearby room told me, that all along they heard only the loud voices of the brother, until suddenly the Rebbe raised his voice, and here's what they told me he said.

"'Not only is this not the start of a Redemption, and not only is this not a salvation or holiday for Jews - but thereby they delayed the Redemption for such and such - tens of years!'

"Neither brother remembers the exact number used by the Rebbe, maybe because of their emotional state. And I too, after so many years, don't quite remember, although my mind tells me the number was 45 years. Only then, the brothers began to appreciate the contempt to godless zionism the Rebbe had - even greater than Satmar's, while still sensing how dear every Jewish soul was to the Rebbe."

The Bond with Chabad Persists
The daughter of Michel, Rina Krunenthal, remembers her personal meeting with the Rebbe on the eve of her wedding "as if it were yesterday". The Rebbe warmly blessed their pending move to Israel, and also spoke to her father. When her father was on his death bed, a representative of the Rebbe stood at his side. "From my childhood memories, I know my father would so often visit the Rebbe, she said longingly. "All his life he deeply appreciated the Rebbe. My wish is that my children and grandchildren should know of this connection, and the wonderful bond the Rebbe had with my father and his brother."


  1. I wonder what the Rebbe would say now... should we be making aliyah or staying put?

  2. My own ambition is to be in places as yet unannexed and, as such, for outright fear of what Jews can do to Jews (for the sake of the Jews' worst enemies, no less), I keep my plans at bay. May we merit the geula and live in Eretz Yisrael happily ever after.