ELIZABETH, N.J (Oct. 27)
Rabbi Pinchas M. Teitz reported that he received a phone call yesterday from Kiev, informing him that a monument on the grave of the Baal Shem, founder of the Hasidic movement, has been restored with a brief and simple inscription on it. “Here rests the Baal Shem Tov, Z’tzl.” Rabbi Yisroel Baal Shem Tov died on the first day of Shavuos in 1760.
This, Teitz said, culminates three years of activity since his visit to the Soviet Union in 1974, when he received special permission from the Ukrainian authorities to visit the city of Medzibuz, 200 kilometers from Kiev. There are now three Jews remaining in the city which once was the center of Hasidic life in all of Russia, Teitz reported. Eliyahu Lapitsky and his son, Hillia, both Soviet engineers, were engaged to restore the burial site which had deteriorated due to neglect. Lapitsky phoned Teitz to inform him of the completion of his work.
During Teitz’s last visit to the Soviet Union in August, 1977, he met with the Lapitskys and final plans were drawn for placing a monument on the Baal Shem’s grave and also restoring the graves and monuments of three other Hasidic giants: Rabbi Moshe Chaim Efraim, author of the Hasidic classic “Degel Machne Efraim,” a grandson of the Baal Shem, who died April 29, 1801; Rabbi Boruch of Medzibuz, another grandson of the Baal Shem, who died on Nov. 22, 1812; and the Rabbi of Apta, Poland, known as the “Ohev Yisrael,” Rabbi Avrohom Yehoshua Heshel, who died March 24, 1825. Teitz spoke with Sholom Kleinman, president of the Moscow Synagogue, who confirmed that the monument had in fact been restored upon the Baal Shem’s grave Tuesday.