The Rebbe of Nadvorna, Rabbi Yaakov Yisachar Ber Rosenbaum, died Thursday morning at Beilinson Hospital in Petah Tikva. He was 82.
The Rebbe began battling a serious illness two years ago, but despite his condition continued to actively lead his followers. Recently his medical condition worsened, but he pressed on, with his house open to them as before.
The Rebbe was the son of the previous Nadvorna Rebbe, Rabbi Chaim Mordechai Rosenbaum, and will be buried next to him on the Mount of Olives.
Following World War II, Rabbi Rosenbaum and his father came to Israel. He acted as Rebbe together with his father, and after his father's passing, assumed the helm of the Nadvorna on his own. Under their leadership the sect flourished, building numerous Torah instutitutions and growing significantly in numbers.
Just last Sunday, the Rebbe attended his granddaughter's wedding and was able to perform the MitzvahTanz for several minutes with the support of his son-in-law. This traditional hassidic wedding dance is performed with the bride standing holding one end of a long gartel - a long, slim sash woven of silk that is worn in prayer - and important guests and family taking turns holding the other end as they dance before her to fulfill the commandment to bring joy to the new couple. It is believed the Mitzvah Tanz also brings joy to the souls of all the children who are to be born to the new couple in the years to come.
Several hours later, the Rebbe returned to Beilinson Hospital.
His funeral procession began at the main Nadvorna Beit Midrash in Bnei Brak at 4:00pm. Tens of thousands were expected and the traffic police and emergency medical services announced that they would accompany the mourners, as the procession traveled to Jerusalem and the Mount of Olives.
Nadvorna is a Hassidic rabbinical dynasty that originated in East Galicia (later the Ukraine) and had numerous followers in Hungary and Romania. The most famous rebbe of the dynasty was Rabbi Mordechai Leifer of Nadvorna, whose writings form the corpus of the group's hassidic thought.
The Nadvorna rebbes descend directly from Rabbi Meir of Premishlan (The Great Rabbi Meir), a disciple and friend of the Baal Shem Tov, founder of the hassidic movement.
Nadvorna is also the source of other hassidic branches, such as Chust and Kretchmer, as it is accepted in Nadvorna that descendants of the rebbes found their own groups. There are Nadvora congregations in Hadera, Tzfat, Haifa, Williamsburg and London, among others.
The rebbes of the Nadvorna Dynasty have several unique customs, such as playing the violin on special occasions. The mode of dress of Nadvorna rebbes is unique in that they typically wear a white gartel - silk woven prayer belt - over a colorful bekishe [robe], and a white crocheted kippah, as do the Jerusalem Toldos Aharon group, under their shtreimel [hassidic hat trimmed with fur].