History of the Karlin Hasidic Movement in Hebron

Thousands of Hasidic Jews visit Hebron to connect to Jewish ancestry.

22.10.18, 12:32
The modern Jewish community of Hebron has often been associated with the Dati Leumi (national religious) community. The Gush Emunim movement that sprung up in the aftermath of the dramatic Six Day War victory was made up of mainly those who wore a knit kippah and were affiliated with the teachings of Rabbi Abraham Yitzchak Kook
However the black-hat wearing hareidi community has always felt a special bond with the City of the Matriarchs and Patriarchs. Hassidic rabbis often visit the Tomb of Machpela. This connection comes not only from the "old 
yishuv" of pre-1929 Hebron, where the Chabad hasidim and the Lithuanian Slabodka yeshiva thrived and the Sephardic community was well-established. Since the liberation of 1967, the orthodox population has always sought to connect to the burial site of the Biblical founding fathers and mothers. 
Like other hasidic movements, the Karliners also gravitate to Hebron and have a special history in the city. Every year the Karliner Rebbe, referred to in Hebrew as the Admor of Karlin, holds a special service. During the Ten Days of Repentance which takes place between Rosh Hashannah and Yom Kippur, thousands of Karliner hasidic Jews pack the Cave of Machpela to capacity for a special service of prayer and song. The Hall of Isaac and Rebecca, usually reserved for Muslim prayers is open for this special event.
The Karlin hasidic movement has a rich history in the city. They used to congregate in the Hausman House (also spelled Hoisman). Above the house was a hall where the Karliner kloize (synagogue and study center) was located. The tradition of the Karliner movement was to pray loud and fast and the sound of their prayer services resonated throughout the Jewish quarter. Every Sabbath in the month of Elul, the Karliner Rebbe and his followers from Jerusalem would come to Hebron. They were hosted at the Hausman house for an uplifting Sabbath in the City of the Forefathers. The tradition of the Karlin hasidic movement to visit Hebron every year in Elul continues to this day.
Shimon Hausman's parents and uncle immigrated to Jerusalem from Hungary and later settled in Hebron. They were followers of the Karlin Hasidic movement and built their house at the western entrance to the market.  Their home and Karliner kloize became a center of public activity and Torah learning and attracted many visitors.
Later more houses were purchased forming the Hausman House complex, which together with the nearby Beit Romano estate became a small Jewish neighborhood. Shimon Hausman was called "Shimon the Great" to distinguish him from his cousin, Shimon Hausman, who was a blacksmith and lived nearby. He was very strict in preserving the Jewish tradition and opposed any innovation. In business matters he was innovative and creative and made sure the Jewish community in Hebron thrived.
Thanks to his connections with the dignitaries of the region and the Austrian citizenship he held, he won the position of tax collector on behalf of the authorities. Shimon Hausman was one of the few Jews who was privileged in those days to enter and pray inside the Tomb of the Patriarchs. Shimon Hausman witnessed an attempt to sell the Beit Romano property to a non-Jewish resident and succeeded in stopping the deal.
In seeking a Jewish buyer to ensure the property would remain used to benefit the community, he turned to the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Sholom Dovber Schneersohn who called on his followers to contribute to the purchase of the estate. In the meantime, with great effort, Shimon Hausman bought the Beit Romano property with his own money. It was only a few years later that Chabad-Lubavitch bought the property from him, and released him from the obligation. In 1918, Dr. Chaim Weizmann, Israel's future first president, and members of his delegation committee came to Hebron. They stayed at Shimon Hausman's spacious home. During his visit, Shimon showed Dr. Weizmann a letter from the Lubavitcher Rebbe in which he expands and emphasizes the importance of making aliyah (immigrating) to the Holy Land.
Today, Karlin Shabbat takes place on the Shabbat of Parshat Lech Lecha, the weekly Torah portion which contains the first mention of the city of Hebron.  Like other hasidic groups, they trace their origins to the Baal Shem Tov, the 18th century mystic who inspired the Jewish communities of Europe.  The event is one of the many hasidic gatherings in the city of the Patriarchs. 
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