The Rav and the Rebbe?

(If someone here doesn’t know me personally- I lost my father, Mr. Manny Meyer, hareini kaporas mishkavo.)

As I sat shiva  many old family friends filed in (outdoors) – a close friend, a former supervisor in the kehilla’s shechita operation- visited. 

He told the following story about the kehilla hiring him despite his being a Lubavitcher chosid.

When the subject of his hiring was brought up, and Rav Breuer was told that the candidate belonged to Lubavitch, the supposed reply came, “I am okay with Lubavitch.”

The explanation dials back to a certain Mr. Phillip Wolf (father of Bella Caro) who was a host for the Lubavitcher Rebbe in Europe. (The Caro family say that it might have been for some 10 months!) (I am told Mr. Wolf may have been from Frankfurt.) According to my visitor it seems that Mr. Wolf might have acted together with the rebbe in building mikvaoth.

Anyhow, when the Rav came to America it is known that he set out to build a mikvah, a yeshiva, and a shul; in that order. He consulted Mr. Wolf for assistance because he had some experience (per this story). As they went along there was a budget shortfall of 8,000$. Mr. Wolf approached the Lubavitcher Rebbe, and he assisted in closing the gap. 

This is the story as told to me. I have a great amount of skepticism for stories by chassidim about their rebbes. But I wanted to document the story as I heard it.

That said, quite the opposite story is told in the “”Rav Breuer; His Life and His Legacy” book. There it says that Rav Breuer indeed took a bus to Lakewood, New Jersey to visit the penultimate Lubavitcher rebbe, who had funds available for building mikvaoth. (The rebbe was vacationing there.) The rebbe told him to approach the wealthy German Jews in Manhattan, but gave him a donation of 25 dollars to kick-it-off. The meeting was arranged by Rabbi Mordechai Chodakov per the footnote (p. 141) and no mention of Mr. Phillip Wolf. (Mrs.Meta B. corroborates this as written.)

The Caro family are unaware of this. They did confirm their grandfather’s connection to the rebbe, though. They further added that Mr. and Mrs. Wolf were childless. Before the rebbe left from his stay they asked him for advice. He told them they need to move from their city and they will incur a loss of their wealth, but they would have children. They had six children.

For the sake of history, the plaque that hung in that original mikvah on Audubon Avenue is pictured below. (Screenshot from a vid on my channel.) Several benefactors are listed for having paid for the property: Messers. Jaques and Leon Schwalbe (the Rav’s son-in-law= Jacques), Mr. Ivan Salomon, Mr. Nathan Miller, and a once well-known philathropist Mr. Joseph Rosenzweig. Some more senior members have told me that it was common practice for men in the community to sit in the pizza shops of Amsterdam Avenue while their wives used the mikvah. Was there a special on the menu for husbands?Screenshot (17)


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