IT’S ALL IN A NAME
In different times the Chol Hamoed visits to the Kosel were followed by the biannual meeting of giants Rav Chaim Kanievsky and his father-in-law Rav Elyashiv ztz”l. These days Rav Chaim still visits the Kosel on Chol Hamoed then stops off at the succah of his talmid Rav Yisrael Meir Druk. In a particularly festive mood this past zeman simchaseinu Rav Chaim greeted neighborhood children in search of brachos and asked one little boy what his name
was. “My name is Chaim ” replied the child. Rav Chaim’s smile grew even wider. “My name as well ” said the master of Torah.
DETERMINED TO CARRY ON
Yeshuos Yaakov is the formal name of the shul but the informal name is Meah Shearim shtiblach. Over a hundred years old the shul is a hub for minyanim learning round-the-clock Tehillim vigils — and once a year for festive dancing. The authentic Meah Shearim community bound by geographical proximity family ties and a shared history are made even closer by a shared ideology that often pits them against the majority. In their spirited dance one hears undertones of their determination to carry on.
IN IT TOGETHER
Ever since Rav Leizer Yudel Finkel replanted Yeshivas Mir at the tip of Meah Shearim the yeshivah has developed a character of its own —classic litvish decorum with Yerushalmi warmth and color. With the passage of time the influx of students from chutz l’Aretz would add their own voices and accents to the din. At the Simchas Beis Hashoeivah it all comes together. The American and European talmidim the Israeli avreichim the visiting alumni they all stand in a circle and rejoice. In this picture one of the Gruman tribe a family of Toldos Avraham Yitzchak chassidim famed for their creative merrymaking and Yerushalmi charm carries the evening in the hallowed beis medrash.
Yes the Ramban writes that the daled minim cause one to rejoice but this Yerushalmi Jew knows what will gladden his wife’s heart as well. And under the burst of color is a fresh round challah — and he too is happy for in his arms he carries so many of the mitzvos of the Yom Tov.
WHEELS OF LIFE
The lengthy Hoshana Rabbah davening has just ended. The elderly Jew has poured his heart
out in prayer in the Toldos Aharon shul where hundreds of descendants surround him. He dons the old shtreimel the same shtreimel that soaked in the holy atmosphere of Reb Ahrele’s tishen and prepares for a quick seudah. In just a few hours it will be time for Atah Horeisa…
The little succah of Yerushalmi gaon Rav Mordechai Aharon Sheinberger is like an island: Just as he does all year long the humble scholar sits quietly and learns. Though his name is revered
among the talmidei chachamim of the Holy City Rav Mordechai Aharon tries to remain out of sight and for the seven days of Succos he rarely steps out of the succah. Here the photographer’s lens captures him in the final moments of the chag before he takes leave of the Succah. A few more moments a few more lines… and then the great joy of Simchas Torah.