Jerusalem – The Rebbe of Kaliv, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Taub, passed away Sunday at the age of 96 at his home in Jerusalem, where he devoted most of his life to the preserving memory of the Holocaust in the general public and in the haredi community.
Part of a family of famous Eastern-European hassidic rebbes, Rabbi Taub survived several Nazi concentration camps during World War II. Born in Transylvania, to Rabbi Yehuda Yechiel Taub, the Rozler Rov, he and his siblings were deported to Auschwitz in 1944.
Unlike most Orthodox rabbis, Rabbi Taub did not have a long beard but short wisps, something attributed to chemical burning experiments conducted on him in Auschwitz by the notorious Dr. Josef Mengele. His brothers were murdered, but Rabbi Taub was transferred to the Warsaw Ghetto, then to the Breslau concentration camp, and later to Bergen-Belsen.
After surviving the Holocaust, he was reunited with his wife in Sweden and resettled in Cleveland, Ohio.
The couple immigrated to Israel in 1962 where they reestablished the Kaliv community in Rishon LeZion and later in Bnei Brak. He published Kol Menachem, a 13-volume work on the Torah and Jewish holidays, and Shema Yisrael: Testimonies of devotion, courage, and self-sacrifice, 1939–1945, a collection of over 500 first-person accounts of those who lived through the Holocaust.
President Reuven Rivlin released an official announcement mourning the rabbi, known in Hebrew as the Admor of Kaliv, stating, “I received with deep sadness the news of the passing of the ‘Holocaust Admor’ who suffered terribly as an inmate at Auschwitz and dedicated his life to the memory of the victims, inspired by a true love of Israel.”
Rivlin added, “the Admor gave voice the spiritual heroism of Jews during the Holocaust and did all he could to honor the memory of its victims. His work has particular resonance at present as we redouble our commitment to remember and never to forget. Our condolences to his family and many pupils. May his memory be a blessing.”
In 2014 he spoke at a commemoration in Budapest for the 70th anniversary of the destruction of Hungarian Jewry.
Following President Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, the Rebbe issued a special message in which he thanked Trump and urged him not to worry in the face of critics.
“President Trump, after God saved me from Auschwitz, they wanted to throw me in a fire. And I said to the Almighty, “Help me. Shema Yisrael, Hashem Elokeynu, Hashem Ehad” [Hear, O Israel, The Lord is our God, the Lord is One]. My God, let me live.
“After miracles upon miracles, the Almighty helped me… and I came to the United States. But then I said ‘I must come to Jerusalem.’
“I want to wish you from the depths of my heart that you should have great success. Don’t worry if people are talking bad about you. The Almighty is with you and He should help you and the world should know that the US helps everybody, anytime. Thank you very much and a lot of blessings to you.”
After his wife Hana Sara passed away in 2010, Rabbi Taub remarried Sheindel Malnik of Bnei Brak on Lag Ba’omer two years later in a private ceremony.
“His faithful hassidim came to the Kaliv synagogue in Jerusalem’s Sanhendria neighborhood to rejoice ahead of their rebbe’s wedding, as well as to celebrate Lag Ba’omer,” reported The Jerusalem Post’s Jeremy Sharon. “Dancing besides a gigantic bonfire, a festival tradition, the rebbe’s followers sang and made merry in honor of the “Admor,” their hassidic master… [who] has lived a dramatic, at times traumatic, but fulfilled life over the past nine decades.”
Rabbi Taub was the seventh generation of hassidic rebbes from Kaliv starting with Rabbi Yitzchak Izak of Kaliv, a disciple of the famous Reb Elimelech of Lizhensk. Hamodia news reported that his grandson, Rabbi Yisrael Mordechai Horowitz will succeed him as Kaliver Rebbe.