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Belz Tour Guide

Belz Tour Guide

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Published by Shira Hochheimer

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Published by: Shira Hochheimer on May 21, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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07/14/2013

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HamodiaFebruary 29, 2012
14
 
REACHING OUT
BY GAVRIEL HORAN
Whether it’s the mitzvah of pidyon peter chamor, redeeming a firstborn donkey; shiluach haken, sending a mother bird away from her nest before taking the eggs; or speaking to nonobservant Jews in the Belz beis medrash in Yerushalayim, Rabbi Yechezkel Friedman is constantly busy bringing Yidden closer to their Father in heaven. As the largest synagogue in the world, the Belzer shul in Yerushalayim receives hundreds of visitors each week. Thebuilding is rich in historical significance; it is modeled after the original sanctuary that was built by the first Belzer  Rebbe, the Sar Shalom, Harav Shalom Rokeach, zy”a, which was destroyed by the Nazis. For many people, however, atour of the synagogue is much more than a religious, cultural, or historic experience; it is their first exposure toOrthodox Jewry. Thanks to Belz’s tour guide, Rabbi Yechezkel Friedman, the majority of visitors to this magnificent edifice walk away forever changed.
The TourGuide of 
The impressive Belz edifice standsout across the Jerusalem skyline,visible from every direction.
 
Inyan Magazine6 Adar5772
15
Belz
Rabbi Yechezkel Friedmanaddressing different groups oftourists in the Belzer shul.
 
EB YECHEZKEL FRIEDMAN
is quite the internationalcitizen — a factor thatenables him to relate to thediverse Jews he encounters in a day’s work.Born in the
frum
community of Melbourne, Australia, he is descendedfrom Belzer chassidim on both sides. After studying in Gateshead, England, and Belzin Jerusalem, Reb Yechezkel was marriedin America and immediately moved toKiryas Belz in Yerushalayim to learn in theRebbe’s illustrious
kollel iyun
. That wasseventeen years ago.He learned
b’hasmadah
for the next tenyears, until he was summoned by thehead of the synagogue committee, RabbiYossi Gold, in 2003. By then themagnificent synagogue had beencompleted and a large number of tour guides approached Rabbi Gold seekingpermission to show off the magnificentsynagogue to their groups. When RabbiGold relayed to the Rebbe how inspiredpeople were after visiting the shul, theRebbe told him to open up the shul to thepublic during “off hours” to bring themcloser to
Yiddishkeit 
and
 yiras Shamayim
rather than as an architectural or historical attraction. To fulfilled theRebbe’s directive, appointing an officialtour guide of the Belz
beis medrash
becamea necessity. Reb Yechezkel’s fluency inEnglish, Hebrew, and Yiddish, made himthe natural choice.
Chareidi 
Spokesman
Although visitors to the sanctuaryinclude large numbers of 
frum
tourists
HamodiaFebruary 29, 2012
16
(Right) The main sanctuaryholds as many as 5000people on Shabbos andholidays. Smaller
shtieblach
host
minyanim
around theclock.

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