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News Brief

May 2, 2006
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More than 100 Chasidim came to a Czech town to mark the 238th yahrzeit of a known Kabbalist. The weekend visitors were honoring the Polish-born Schmelke Horowitz, the Kabbalist rabbi of Nikolsburg, as the town of Mikulov was known in the 18th century. A town historian estimated that it was the largest gathering of Chasidim in the Czech Republic since World War II. Most of the visitors came from Monsey, N.Y., led by the current Nikolsburg rebbe, a follower of Horowitz. A few of the visitors were descendants of Horowitz who now live in Jerusalem. Mikulov was a major seat of Jewish learning for several centuries. Until the 19th century, about half the population of the town of 7,000 near Vienna was Jewish, and there were 11 synagogues. Jews left for bigger cities after emancipation under the Austro-Hungarian empire, and only a few hundred Jews lived in Mikulov when the Nazis arrived in 1939. The visiting Chasidim celebrated Shabbat in the town’s only surviving synagogue.

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