Rockland County, NY – In what has become an annual pilgrimage, nearly 30,000 people are expected to turn out today at the Vizhnitzer beis olam in Monsey to daven at the tzion of the Ribnitzer Rebbe zt’l on his 23rd yahrtzeit.
Rabbi Chaim Zanvil Abramowitz was known as a baal mofes in his lifetime, with Jews and gentiles alike, including KGB soldiers, seeking his blessings as previously reported on VIN News (http://bit.ly/2xGrKU0).
He passed away on Isru Chag Succos in 1995 and since then, visitors have flocked to his gravesite at all hours of the day and night throughout the year, particularly on Erev Rosh Chodesh and on his yahrtzeit.
In recent years security at the site during high traffic times has been coordinated by the Monsey based ISSM Protective Services.
Numerous improvements have been made to the cemetery including the creation and expansion of a parking lot and a new exit directing motorists northbound on Route 306 to minimize traffic in the largely residential area.
“In the last few years people have really started coming here,” Shimmy Shenker, CEO of ISSM Protective Services, told VIN News. “Every month we see more and more people.”
Shenker said that approximately 15,000 to 20,000 people came to the cemetery for last year’s yahrtzeit. With an even greater turnout anticipated this year, an additional 18 security guards were on hand to manage the crowds, as well as seven patrol cars and a mobile command center.
Crowds began flocking to the cemetery last night, with one member of the Ribnitzer Rebbe’s family saying that there were those who spent the entire night there immersed in prayer. One child who went missing last night was found by the security team within 10 minutes, said Shenker, who said he expects people to continue coming until well after dark.
While many from the New York area take advantage of the opportunity to daven at the Ribnitzer Rebbe’s tzion on his yahrtzeit, one person who arrived at the beis olam at 4 AM this morning had driven in from Montreal after the conclusion of Simchas Torah.
Shenker said that he has spent two months coordinating the many arrangements for the yahrtzeit. Two parking lots were set up at nearby schools, with frequent shuttle buses running to the cemetery to lessen congestion in the area.
As in previous years, the Ramapo Police Department implemented temporary restrictions on nearby roadways, prohibiting parking on several streets, and closing or converting two way streets to one way roads between the peak hours of 2 to 10 PM.
Large quantities of refreshments were donated to accommodate the visitors including coffee, 10 pallets of bottled water, five pallets of juice, three pallets of milk and cases of Ostreicher’s cookies and Stern’s mini danishes.
Two golf carts were available throughout the day to shuttle those with mobility issues to the up the hill gravesite and a small pop up tent housed wheelchairs for those needing additional assistance.
Multiple tents were erected in the cemetery, with a massive tent at the Ribnitzer Rebbe’s kever, a four section tent for Mincha and Maariv minyanim, and smaller tents designated for men’s candle lighting, Kohanim and separate eating areas for men and women.
With so many people flocking to Uman for Rosh Hashana and flying to Europe to commemorate the yahrtzeits of famous Chasidic rebbes throughout the year, being able to daven at the kever of the Ribnitzer Rebbe, as well as the tzions of the Skulener and Vizhnitzer Rebbes zt’l both located just steps away, is something that is has a strong pull for many, noted Shenker.