Nisan 19
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Nisan 19

Yahrtzeit of Rabbi Menacham Zemba (1883-1943), spiritual leader of the Warsaw Ghetto during the uprising against the Nazis. Though Rabbi Zemba could have been rescued, he elected to remain in the ghetto to help give other Jews spiritual and emotional support. Rabbi Zemba was educated in the Ger chassidic method and gained renown as a great talmudic scholar who wrote more than 10,000 pages of Torah novella. (These manuscripts were torched in the Warsaw Ghetto.) He was offered the position of Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem, but declined, saying that he wanted to go to Jerusalem only as a "simple Jew." In the darkest days of the ghetto, he strove to bring a note of optimism by setting up secret places for Torah study -- in cellars, attics and bomb shelters. In the ghetto, he wrote an entire work on the laws pertaining to the sanctification of God's Name (Kiddush Hashem). During the uprising, while trying to escape a burning building, Rabbi Zemba was gunned down, while holding his 5-year-old grandson. His grave was later re-interred to Jerusalem.

Article 19 of 356 in the series Day in Jewish History

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