New York - Preserving The Legacy: A Guide to 'kivrei tzadikim' In North America
New York - Countless people travel to Eastern Europe and Eretz Yisroel to visit the kevarim of various tzadikim, yet most are not aware just how many illustrious rabbonim are buried much closer to home. Thirty three year old Baruch Amsel of Kew Gardens Hills founded Kevarim of Tzadikim of North America approximately three years ago when he was shocked to find out that the Chofetz Chaim’s Rebbetzin was buried nearby. Amsel, who had always been interested in kevarim, began to research which Rabbanim were buried in North America. While his original intention was to compile a book with his findings, Amsel decided to post them on the internet and kevarim.com , an online directory featuring the locations of the kevarim of over six hundred Gedolei Yisroel was born.
The project was founded with the dual goals of preserving the memory of prominent rabbonim, while at the same time, giving people the opportunity to daven at the tzion of a tzadik during their time of need, without having to undertake the large expense of traveling abroad. The site, which is constantly being updated with more details, features information including date of yahrtzeit, cemetery location and phone number, plot information, short biographies and pictures of the actual matzayvos. While much of the information comes from Amsel’s painstaking research, very often relatives will contact him and provide him with pictures or more details.
Aside from an alphabetical index to the many gravesites listed, kevarim.com is also indexed by chassidus and by state, and in some cases, even by cemetery. Additionally, the site’s “Send A Kvitel Service ” provides an online means of hand delivering a kvitel to any one of twenty different kevarim, including those of Reb Shimon Schwab, Reb Yaakov Kamintezky, The Lubavitcher Rebbe among others. People who live near certain cemeteries voluntarily deliver the kvitelach and Amsel has people in various locations including Detroit and Rochester who are happy to perform this mitzva for free.
kevarim.com gets approximately one hundred thirty unique hits a day and Amsel told VIN News that Kohanim, in particular, appreciate being able to see the gravesites online, given that they can’t visit them in person. Sadly, Amsel finds that over fifty percent of the descendants of these Rabbonim are no longer shomrei Torah u’mitzvos and his greatest pleasure is locating a descendant who is sitting in Kollel. Just this past week, Amsel discovered eight descendants of a Rabbi Yaakov Yosef Joseph, who was thought to have no living descendants at all.
Amsel told VIN News “There are so many big tzaddikim, buried right here in America. My goal is to preserve their history.” Amsel hopes to one day run out of kevarim in America and is contemplating the possibility of expanding his horizons to include both Eastern and Western Europe.
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