Rav Yehuda Leib Tzirelson (1859-1941) and his younger compatriot Rabbi Moshe Yosef Rubin (1895-1980), were but two examples of the unique rabbinical leadership enjoyed by the Romanian Jewish community during the tumultuous first half of the 20th century. With the outer districts of Bukovina and Bessarabia being absorbed into the new nationalistic and increasingly anti Semitic Romania, it took courageous leadership to provide an anchor of tradition during that time period.
What made the story even more unique was their leadership in the Romanian Agudas Yisroel organization, while maintaining Zionistic positions on settlement of the Land of Israel and the future founding of a State. Rabbi Rubin was able to escape to Bucharest following the war’s outbreak and continued his rescue activities and Agudah leadership from the capital. Following the war, he immigrated to the United States, where he later founded the Geder Avos organization to protect and maintain Jewish cemeteries in Europe.
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