A Conversation With The Present Kaliver Rebbe About Fulfilling His Promise To The Previous Kaliver Rebbe

By Chananya Bleich

In the reception room of the previous Rebbe of Kaliv, zt”l, whose first yahrtzeit was commemorated two days after Pesach (23 Nisan), I find his grandson carrying on the Kaliver legacy. Rav Yisrael Mordechai Horowitz, the newly crowned Kaliver Rebbe, is working to fulfill the will of his grandfather, Rav Menachem Mendel Taub, a man many called the “Admor of the Shoah”: the construction of a large museum in Yerushalayim in memory of the Holocaust. Its exhibits will forever remind mankind of the horrors suffered by Jews simply because they were Jewish some 80 years ago.
While the Rebbe was unable to bring this life-long dream to fruition, he spent much of his life devoted to the singular mission of keeping the memory of the Holocaust alive, traveling across the length and breadth of the country and speaking about the Holocaust before joining his audience in shouting the eternal cry of “Shema Yisrael.”
Over the years, he nurtured the desire to build a dignified and fitting Holocaust museum that wouldn’t just serve as a venue for discussions and speakers but would also be a place where students could learn about the near destruction of European Jewry.
If not for the raging coronavirus pandemic, the new museum would have opened before Pesach. It was hoped that the first wing would be ready for visitors before the Rebbe’s first yahrtzeit, subject to travel restrictions instituted by the Israeli government. Alas, current conditions didn’t allow it.
The present Rebbe of Kaliv is the grandson-in-law of the previous Rebbe, who passed away last year at the age of 96. As is well known, the previous Rebbe had no biological children, but he and his rebbetzin adopted two young girls after the war. One of the daughters married Rav Rafael Rosenberg, and Rav Horowitz is his son-in-law.
Rav Horowitz was very close with his grandfather, creating two networks of kollelim, one specifically for Kaliver chasidim and another for other avreichim looking for a welcoming place to learn. His grandfather loved him very much and asked that Rav Yisrael Mordechai be named his successor in his will. In keeping with this request, the present Kaliver Rebbe is one of the youngest Admorim of this generation; he is only 29 years old.
It is only a few days before Purim when we meet. In the evening, the Rebbe will be going to a tish in Bnei Brak [this was before the coronavirus travel ban] in memory of the first Rebbe of Kaliv, Rav Yitzchak Isaac Taub, zt”l, who passed away on 7 Adar II 5881 (1821). The following morning he is scheduled to travel to Hungary with several hundred followers for a visit of just a few hours to visit the kever of the founder of the Kaliver chasidus and ask for yeshuos. With the world currently in a biomedical crisis, surely salvation is needed.
Although the situation is already becoming more complicated, the Rebbe chooses not to give up on the trip to Hungary. “Before the Second World War,” he says, “there were righteous people who visited the Rebbe’s kever at any cost. I couldn’t forgo it either.”
He tells me that when he married the daughter of the previous Rebbe’s adopted daughter around ten years ago, he and the Rebbe immediately forged a strong bond.
“Even at the wedding he was trying to pass along some of the customs of the chasidus. I think he was preparing me for the future. For example, the Rebbe had a special way of pouring wine from a bottle into a cup or becher. At my wedding, when I picked up the wine bottle to pour, he said, ‘Not that way. Pay attention to how I do it and you’ll learn.’
“A short time later I got a call from him. It was two days after Sukkos. He was on vacation in Europe, but he called me from there. ‘Yisrael Mordechai,’ he said, ‘I have a chavrusa (study partner) for you. Starting tomorrow, you will come to our beis midrash every morning at nine o’clock. I want you to study with him so you will get Yoreh Yoreh (rabbinical ordination qualifying a person to rule on day-to-day halachic issues). He actually developed the curriculum for me.”

To read more, subscribe to Ami