The Discussion

What is BELZ?

Belz is a preeminent Chassidic dynasty — a tradition of devout Jews that follow a distinctive path. Like other branches of Chassidus, Belz Chassidim focus on the teachings and practices of their leader; in our case the Belzer Rebbe. Belz is well known for its own particular style: an enveloping warmth that charms and inspires Jews of all kinds.

When did the Belz dynasty begin?

Belz’ roots were planted in the early 19th century in the small town of Belz in the western Ukraine. But the size of the town belies it’s importance in Jewish history: it was a spiritual center for thousands of Chassidic Jews. Our founder, Rabbi Shalom Rokeach, known as the Sar Shalom, was a sought after spiritual leader and champion of the Jewish people.

How near is Belz to the Baal Shem Tov zt”l, the creator of Chassidus?

The Sar Shalom, the founder of Belz, was just three generations removed from the Baal Shem Tov, through the teachings of the Maggid of Mezeritch and the Seer of Lublin. Indeed, it is said of Rebbe Aharon, the 4th Belzer Rebbe, that he had an uncanny ability to solve his petitioners’ dilemmas before they even spoke them aloud, causing contemporary gedolim to compare this ability with the Baal Shem Tov himself.

What has Belz become in modern times?

After the devastation in Europe, Reb Aharon and his brother Rabbi Mordechai reestablished the Belz dynasty in Tel Aviv. While holding very close to its spiritual roots, Belz has since exploded into virtually every area of Jewish life — in Israel and around the globe. The worldwide organization includes dozens of well organized programs in the social services, outreach, and Torah learning. There are health clinics, support groups, and schools.

Who leads the Belz empire today?

The 5th Belzer Rebbe, Rabbi Yissachar Dov Rokeach, is the spiritual leader of Belz chassidim, and presides over all the Belz institutions in Israel, the United States, and Europe. Under the current Rebbe’s leadership, Belz has grown from a few hundred families at the time of his accession in 1966, to over 10,000 families today. The reach of Belz charitable institutions has growth even more dramatically.

Where is Belz’ headquarters?

The Belz Great Synagogue in the Kiryat Belz neighborhood of Jerusalem is the nerve center of the international Belz organization. Modeled after the original Great Synagogue that was built by the Sar Shalom in Europe, the new synagogue took 15 years to build and was dedicated in 2000. It is the largest synagogue in Israel, and a destination for Jews visiting from around the world.

What’s the connection between Belz and me?

For individuals on a personal quest, Belz is an excellent way to get in touch with the most spiritual and joyful aspects of what it means to be a Jew. We share our rich heritage in a number of ways — with programs like The Traveling Chassidim that import rousing Shabbat celebrations to communities around the world; and Hitabroot, a 24/6 television station that broadcasts inspiration to the entire country of Israel.

Is Belz unique?

We believe all Jews are unique. That being said, Belz has its own way of celebrating its rich heritage, and of sharing our infectious joy with others no matter where they are on their unique path. We’re also unique in the wide range of programs we maintain, all created to help our fellow Jews, whether it is a medical, financial or spiritual need — and all the while maintaining our life-giving connection with our history and Hashem.

What is the “giving equals getting” promise all about?

The Belz concept of giving charity, or tzedakah, is vastly different than the idea most people have of giving. We believe that you never wind up with less when you give it away, whether it’s your time, your money, or your energy. On the contrary, the more you give, the more you get. We’ve seen it happen so many times that we can make this guarantee: you’ll be all the richer for sharing of yourself.