Some 150 Jews from Israel, the United States and the former Soviet Union converged this past weekend on this city to visit the gravesite of the first Karliner-Stoliner rebbe, Aaron Ha-Godol.
The pilgrimage was made to observe the 221st yahrzeit of the revered rebbe, the 19th of Nisan, which fell this year on April 10.
Aaron ben Jacob of Karlin, known as Aaron ha-Gadol, or Aaron the Great, lived from 1736 to 1772 and was one of the founders of Hasidism in Lithuania and Belarus. He was a disciple of Reb Dov Baer of Meseritch.
Aaron ha-Gadol settled in the town of Karlin, near Pinsk, and founded one of the largest and most influential Hasidic groups in Eastern Europe, known for shouting their fervent prayers.
The dynasty was transferred to the town of Stolin at the end of the 19th century.
Following the Holocaust, the dynasty moved to New York. Most of its followers now live in the United States or Israeli.
Since the end of Communist rule, Karliner-Stoliner Hasidim have taken an active role in reviving Jewish communities in the former Soviet Union. Several Karliner-Stoliner rabbis head communities in Ukraine and Belarus, including Rabbi Yaakov Bleich, an American whom some regard as the chief rabbi of Ukraine.
Today, some 8,000 Jews still live in Pinsk out of a total population of 130,000. Before the Holocaust, over 50,000 Jews lived here.