Erlau Rebbe Mourned As Hasidic Leader Who Visited, Supported Hebron

The Rebbe stated that if not for the existence of the Jewish community of Hebron, regular visits to the Tomb of Machpela would not be possible.

23.2.16, 12:19
The Jewish community of Hebron mourned the loss of Rabbi Yochanan Sofer, the Erlau Rebbe who passed away at the age of 93 on February 22, 2016. He was remembered as a great supporter of Hebron and the land of Israel often visiting the city and expressing his love for the residents and children of the community.

The Erlau Rebbe was born in Erlau, Hungary and survived the Nazi death camp of Auschwitz. He was a great-great-grandson of Rabbi Moses Sofer (1762–1839), known as the Chasam Sofer. After surviving the Holocaust at the end of World War II, he founded a school in Budapest and later relocated to Israel where he lived in the Katamon neighborhood of Jerusalem. Thousands attended his funeral procession on Monday.  
For years he came to Hebron every year during the Ten Day of Repentance which preceded the High Holidays of Rosh Hashannah and Yom Kippur. After prayer services at the Tomb of Machpela, ancient burial site of the Biblical Patriarchs and Matriarchs he would hold a "chocolate tish". Each visit was an exciting celebration and he would give residents of Hebron words of encouragement. The Rebbe stated that if not for the existence of the Jewish community of Hebron, regular visits to the Tomb of Machpela would not be possible. 

(Photo: Hasidic tish at the Gutnick Center in Hebron.)
The Rebbe had a special relationship with the children of the local Talmud Torah school and encouraged study and good manners. Talmud Torah children would come each year to visit with the Rebbe. He treated them with compassionate, listened patiently and gave them each a piece of chocolate and a blessing, hence the name "chocolate tish".
The Rebbe was both dedicated to Torah study an to Israel advocacy. He publicly came out against the Hebron Accords of 1997 which divided the city into the H1 and H2 sections. He tried to reach out to Israelis of differing political views and to other rabbinical leaders, maintained close contact with former Sephardic Chief Rabbi Ovadia Yosef (1920 - 2013) and Rabbi Yosef Shalom Eliashiv (1910 - 2012).   

After every terrorist attack and security incident, the Erlau Rebbe would call to offer support to the Jewish community of Hebron. 
(Photo: Erlau Rebbe with Hebron community leader Rabbi Hillel Horowitz in front of Beit Hadassah.)
Rabbi Hillel Horowitz, a long-time resident and community leader of Hebron told Israel National News that, "he was something special. He always showed concern and felt a responsibility to Hebron." 

For more information on visiting Hebron contact the offices of the Jewish Community of Hebron at:
In the United States contact:
The Hebron Fund
1760 Ocean Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11230
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