Rabbi Arye D. Gordon
Last week, the Los Angeles community had the distinct honor and privilege to welcome the Boyaner Rebbe, Harav Nachum Dov Brayer shlita, on his first official visit to L.A. The impetus for the Rebbe’s visit was the opportunity to participate in a family simchah, the birth of a girl, a first child for his brother.
Arriving on Sunday, July 17, 2016, the Rebbe was escorted to the home of his hosts, the Lebovics family. The Rebbe stayed in Los Angeles until Wednesday, with visits to the Los Angeles Cheder, various supporters of his torah institutions in Israel, and other prominent rabbanim. The Rebbe had the opportunity to participate in fulfilling the mitzvah of kevias mezuzah at the new home of Yaakov and Avigail Rosenblatt and attend a gathering in his honor at the home of his hosts, Dr. and Mrs. Irving Lebovics.
Later on Sunday evening, a special, welcoming kabbolas panim took place at the Chassidishe Kollel. Before long, guests packed the Kollel’s bais medrash, with all seats at the tables filled and standing throngs of young and old, five people deep, filling in the remaining space. As the Rebbe entered the bais medrash, those near him greeted him. While he headed to the front, the invigorating singing of the crowd accompanied him.
A head table of prominent local rabbanim sat with the Rebbe. The program began with words of greeting from Rabbi Matisyahu Dinkels. The Rebbe then made a brachah mezonos, handed out lekach to the worthy assembled, followed with a borei pre hagafen on wine. The Rebbe then waved his hand in the air, extending “L’chaiyim” to the crowd gathered at each side of his table.
At that point, the Los Angeles Cheder Choir, led by Rabbi Doron Jacobius, with soloist, Yossi Katz, broke out in song.
Rabbi Menachum Krybus, Rosh Kollel, Kollel Yechiel Yehuda (the Chassidshe Kollel), took his turn at the lectern, expounding on the significance and influence of “Tzadik bah La’Ir,” with the Rebbe’s visit in mind.
The Rebbe then spoke, expressing his feelings on being in Los Angeles for the first time and his impression of our community. The Rebbe extolled the Los Angeles religious community on developing torah institutions, kollelim of various stripes and colors, community members that make time to learn and baale batim who are active supporters of worthy causes. He thanked the Chassidishe Kollel for all its endeavors in harbatzas torah and for hosting this kabolas panim.
The assembled then lined up to greet the Rebbe, who took the time to offer his hand, his brochos, and smiles for the kinderlach, all the time revealing patience to listen to one and all as they passed by.
Boyan is one of the branches of the Ruzhiner dynasty, together with Bohush, Chortkov, Husiatyn, Sadigura, and Shtefanesht. The first Boyaner Rebbe was Rav Yitzchok Friedman (1850–1917), known as the Pachad Yitzchok. He was the eldest son of Rav Avrohom Yaakov Friedman (1820–1883), the first Sadigura Rebbe, and the grandson of Rabbi Yisroel Friedman of Ruzhyn (1797–1851), founder of the Ruzhiner dynasty.
While the various branches of the Ruzhin Dynasty continued to grow, the children of the first Boyaner Rebbe established their courts in different towns, only to have them and their families decimated by the Germans, yimach shemum. It was the Rebbe’s youngest son, Rav Mordechai Shlomo Friedman, who managed to find his way to the Lower East Side of New York and reestablish the Ruzhin-Boyan survivors of the Holocaust. For over four decades he led the chassidus until his sudden passing in 1971.
At that particular time, there were no direct members of the family desiring or able to take over leadership. After a series of attempts to find a proper replacement, it fell to a young 11 year old boy, a grandson of the previous Rebbe, Rav Mordechai Shlomo, to take up the mantle. In 1984, at the age of 25, Harav Nachum Dov Brayer shlita, the Rebbe visiting in Los Angeles, was declared Boyaner Rebbe.