Rabbi Eliezer Portugal Dead at 86

Rabbi Eliezer Portugal, the rebbe of the Skullener Hasidim, who was repeatedly imprisoned in his native Rumania for helping hundreds of Jews to emigrate to Israel, died in Brooklyn yesterday at the age of 86. His body was temporarily buried in Brooklyn pending transfer to Israel for permanent interment.

Thousands of Hasidic Jews filled the small Chesed Abraham synagogue in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn yesterday to pay tribute to the Hasidic leader. Hundreds of Hasidim outside the synagogue heard the services by loudspeakers. Portugal was released from one imprisonment in a Rumanian jail when the late Dag Hammarskjold, United Nations Secretary General, intervened with Rumanian authorities on his behalf.

Rabbi Harry Bronstein, who had worked with Portugal for many years, said the late rebbe was “nonpolitical” in regard to Zionism and had founded more than 30 institutions in Israel to help Jews from Eastern Europe adjust to their new lives in Israel. Most of the mourners last night consider themselves non-Zionist.

Portugal is survived by a son, Rabbi Israel Portugal, who was named the new Skullener rebbe in his father’s will read at the funeral service.

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