The Belzer Hassidic community in Jerusalem celebrated the Bar Mitzvah of a grandson of the Grand Belzer Rabbi on Sunday. Thousands of people packed a giant hall, and dozens of leading rabbis and family members sat at a triple dais in front. Videos, with the musical sound track, of the celebration can be seen here as well as here.
Tzvi Hersh, the Bar Mitzvah boy, is the son of Rabbi Aharon Mordechai Rokach, and the second grandson of the Belzer Rebbe, Rabbi Yissachar Dov Rokach. As is customary in Belz circles, several musical albums have been produced and released in honor of the joyous occasion. First among them is a CD of 11 songs named V’Zakeinu L’Gadel (pronounced V’zakay (last syllable rhymes with “eye”) nee l’gadayl (last syllable sounds like “aisle”), meaning "Grant Us the Privilege of Raising [Torah-True Descendants]."
The songs were composed by Rabbi Eliyahu Eisenbach and were arranged by Eli Osdon and Yossi Greenboim. The title song can be heard here.
Photos of the grand Bar Mitzvah celebration show the Hassidim wearing high white socks; it is a Belzer custom to wear black socks on the Sabbath, and white socks on holidays and joyous occasions. Their customary fur head covering is known as a kolpek, fuller and higher than the more familiar shtreimel that is commonly worn by some other Hassidic groups.
The largest Belz community in the world is in Jerusalem, centered around the giant synagogue and study hall that is a landmark on the Jerusalem skyline. The building was built in the fashion of the famous Belz synagogue in western Ukraine that was so massive that the Nazis were unable to destroy it by fire or by explosives; they were forced to conscript Jews to dismantle it brick by brick. Other Belzer branches are in Bnei Brak, Beit Shemesh, Ashdod, Belgium. England, New York and elsewhere in Israel and around the world.