Some 6,000 Jews set to flock to south-eastern Poland
PR dla Zagranicy
About 6,000 Hasidic Jews from Europe, the United States, Canada and Israel are expected to visit the tomb of Rabbi Elimelech Weisblum in the town of Leżajsk, south-eastern Poland, as part of an annual pilgrimage.
Jewish cemetery in Leżajsk, south-eastern Poland. Photo: Nikodem Nijaki [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
The first groups of visitors are expected to arrive on Wednesday evening and pray until Thursday night to mark the 231st anniversary of Elimelech’s death.
Hasidic Jews believe that, on the anniversary of his death, Rabbi Elimelech Weisblum, who is regarded as one of the three fathers of the Hasidic movement, descends from the heavens and answers the prayers of pilgrims.
Their pleas are submitted in written form as kvitels, or paper notes that are placed on the rabbi’s grave, which is located in a specially constructed building within the grounds of the town’s old Jewish cemetery.
Most of the Jews arrive to Leżajsk by plane. About 20 charter flights from Israel alone, with 2,500 people on board, are scheduled to land on Wednesday and Thursday at the Jasionka Airport near the provincial capital of Rzeszów, not far from Leżajsk.
In view of the shortage of accommodation in Leżajsk, successive groups of Jews leave the town after their prayers to allow others to take part in the commemoration.
Before World War II, Leżajsk had a sizeable Jewish population and was among the most important centres of the Hasidic movement in Poland. The vast majority of local Jews did not survive the Holocaust. The tradition of the annual pilgrimages to the grave of Elimelech Weisblum was revived in the 1970s.