Memory Lane: Rav Avrohom Shapira, zt”l , Perpetuating the ‘Beis Medrash of Rebi Meir’
The name of the Lubliner Rov, Rav Meir Shapiro, is a household one. Less well known is his brother Rav Avrumche, younger than him by one year, who dedicated his life to the legacy of his brother—and, as we will see, expended enormous energies in preserving and perpetuating various facets of his Torah initiatives. A great part of this entailed caring for the surviving talmidim of Chachmei Lublin. The Beis Medrash that he founded and led in Boro Park in the aftermath of his miraculous survival of the war was likewise dedicated to this legacy—and named ‘Beis Medrasho shel Rebi Meir,’ in memory and in commemoration of his brother whom he loved and revered.
Rav Avrumche, as he was called, as born in the year 1888 to his father Rav Yaakov Shamshon Shapira, in the town of Shotz, Bukovina, where his father, served as the Rov. The Shapiro family were famously Czortkower Chassidim, and the shidduch of Rav Avrumche to the daughter of Reb Naftali Hertz Hornick—a distinguished Czortkower chossid was a story in its own right. After a number of years of marriage, he was not yet blessed with children, but through a bracha from Rebbe Moishenyu of Czortkow, he was blessed with a daughter. When it came time for a shiduch, the Rebbe’s son and successor, Rebbe Yisroel of Czortkow suggested Avrohom Shapiro—thus none other than the Rebbe himself was the shadchan.
WWI soon broke out, and so many Polish Jews fled to Vienna. Here, the Shapira’s were bnei bayis in the home of Rebbe Yisroel of Czortkow, who was there until his passing and burial there in 1934.
The tragic news of the demise of his son-in-law Rav Aaron Lebvahl, their daughter Gittel, and their twin sons Naftali Yehuda Meir and Yona, Hy”d, at the hands of the Nazis came to Rav Avraham through a messenger. Nevertheless, relates his granddaughter: “despite all his suffering, he was always refined and always with a smile. He loved everyone, and was very loved—and extremely joyful”
Commemorating the Legacy
He fled, with his wife and son Berche, to Belgium, and then to France where they were always on the run. There, their son Berche married, and had three children… throughout the war years. Following the war, he went to Eretz Yisroel, while his parents went to America.
A short while after arriving in America, he settled in Boro Park, where he remained for 25 years, until his passing in 1972. His shul was on 53rd, and would host yohrtzeit and other gatherings connected to Chachmei Lublin He founded the histadrus of talmidim of Chachmei Lublin, which notably established a number of satellite yeshivos around the world. In 1958, he transferred the remains of his brother from Lublin to Eretz Yisroel. Over the years he left no stone unturned to find and publish the teshuvos of his brother, in a series called “Ohr Hameir.”
As we march on in galus to the light of the Torah, how true these words ring today—written so many years ago by Rav Avraham Shapira, the champion of his brother and his work who lived and breathed his legacy in Boro Park of yesteryear.