"In Lizhensk, the sky is purified by the prayers of Rabbi Elimelech"
(The Ohev Yisrael of Apt)

"Dos Himmel iz do heilig! The heaven is holy here!
(Rabbi Yechezkel of Shineva)


Lizhensk!

There is no Jew whose heart does not skip a beat out of sheer excitement when hearing the word 'Lizhensk'. It is as if someone leads you away from the mundane every-day life and lifts you up to a higher place…
Lizhensk!

Whoever has merited being there, immediately gets swept away by emotions of elevation and excitement which moisten the eyes and instantly recalls the heart-felt prayers and the intense thoughts of repentance; the flight overflowing with awe and anticipation; the opportunity to pray at the grave site of the holy Rebbe, Rabbi Elimelech, which is so surreal that it seems like a dream; the flight home and the abrupt landing into the emptiness and foolishness of this world that so sharply contrast with the holiness and elevation of Lizhensk, as if it exists in another planet altogether.

And whoever has not yet merited being there – feels a strong yearning and desire to be there, and hopes and aspires and promises himself: 'the time will come, with G-d's help, that I, too, will visit Lizhensk'.
To each and every Jew – Lizhensk has a deep, profound meaning.
 
Fifteen Years Ago

Up until fifteen years ago, the word 'Lizhensk' would primarily bring to mind a spiritual desert devoid of Judaism – no synagogue, no mikvah, no kosher bread or milk and a freezing weather of twenty-something degrees below zero. In the whole area surrounding the gravesite, there was no place to rest and stretch one's legs or to get warmed up with a steaming glass of hot tea.

After a long, exhausting ride in rickety buses from the airport to Lizhensk – one would encounter a simple tent, unheated of course, and a freezing weather which did not allow for the visitors to pray with optimal fervor and concentration and diverted their intentions from the unique and special opportunity…sometimes, the disappointment of not having been able to pray from the bottom of the heart was unimaginably deep. After so many efforts to come here, after such an exhausting, long journey and after spending so much money on the trip – and mainly after thoughtful spiritual preparations – the reality which one came upon was like a slap in the face. How could one stand and pray under such dire circumstances? Is it really possible to pour out one's heart and get totally absorbed in sincere prayer while being exposed to such miserable conditions!?
And when one had no choice but to knock on the doors of the local gentiles and ask to come in for a few minutes and warm up – it was extremely embarrassing and unpleasant. Many times, one was simply forced to ride back to the hotel.

That is why many Jews – especially younger ones – thought twice before embarking on that difficult journey. After the flight to Warsaw, one had to travel for four and a half hours from Warsaw to Lizhensk without even basic conditions and stand by the gravesite and pray in freezing weather. This was, undoubtedly, a very good reason to hesitate.

A Center of Attraction

'Hachnassas Orchim Lizhensk' took the matter into its own hands.
There would be no more Jews who had to endure a nine-hour flight from the States (or a four-hour flight from Israel) to Warsaw after which one had to travel by bus for several hours to Lizhensk only to pray for a very limited amount of time due to harsh conditions and freezing weather! There would be no more Jews who would have to encounter a spiritual wasteland in Lizhensk with no place to rest and be refreshed!
During the first year, a small W.C. was built in close proximity to the gravesite and a heated hut was erected nearby where one could make oneself a cup of tee or coffee.   
This was considered, at the time, a revolutionary act and was received with much enthusiasm and many blessings.

To this day, the heartfelt thanks which were heaped upon 'Hachnassas Orchim Lizhensk' during that first year, still linger in the air…
A nearby pub which belonged to a local gentile went through extensive renovations and became the new lodgings for all travelers who came to pray in Lizhensk.
The following year, chairs and a table were added to serve the Jews who had come to pray, as well as delicious cakes and central heating which melted away the intense cold and warmed the hearts which could now be filled with genuine prayer.

The old tent surrounding the gravesite was also connected to the heating system, enabling each and every Jew to stand in prayer for as long as he wished without having to rush and hurry due to the freezing cold. It was impossible to imagine that just a few years ago, these basic conditions were non-existing…

Still Not Enough
 
However, there was still much left to be desired.
A Chassidic Jew who approaches this holy site – first and foremost seeks to purify himself in a mikvah…however, despite knowing for a fact that there had once been a mikveh in the area, it was undetectable.
'Hachnassas Orchim Lizhensk' acknowledged the demand for a mikvah and established one. The news spread quickly, and in no-time a long waiting line formed outside the long-awaited mikvah. The problem was that there was only one single pool to serve thousands of Jews…
The water had to be changed urgently, and a solution for a steady flow of water to and from the mikvah had to be found without delay. 'Hachnassas Orchim Lizhensk' rented a huge water tank with heated water from the local beer factory in Lizhensk (which was actually owned by a Jew before the war), and several times a day the water would be changed.

But it was still not enough.
The administration of 'Hachnassas Orchim Lizhensk' started seriously talking about constructing a real mikveh with large build-in pools which could serve several people simultaneously. After purchasing a huge lot and setting up the infrastructure, it surfaced that the local mikvah of Lizhensk from before WWII was situated on this very spot! It is impossible to describe the joy and excitement of the initiators upon discovering this with mere words. The hands were preoccupied with the labor of the building, while the heart wept for the distinguished Jewish community of Lizhensk that was wiped out by the cursed Nazis just like all the other Jewish communities in Poland. Had the Jews of Lizhensk succeeded in immersing themselves in the mikvah for a final time before being murdered al Kiddush Hashem?

Two pools were built and several well-equipped dressing rooms and showers were added for the convenience of the Jews who had come to pray at the gravesite. When the water in one pool was being changed, the other pool was used for immersions, and vice versa.
It was an extreme relief for all visitors.

And yet, 'Hachnassas Orchim Lizhensk' is not satisfied. It still has several other dreams to fulfill.
The well over which the original mikvah of the holy No'am Elimelech was built exists somewhere in the area. Old maps clearly indicate that. The administration of 'Hachnassas Orchim Lizhensk' stand steadfast in their hope of someday discovering that well and enabling the many visitors to immerse themselves in the very same well where the holy Rebbe of Lizhensk had immersed himself so many years before. And just like all the other plans and ideas of 'Hachnassas Orchim Lizhensk', which sounded impossible and far-fetched yet with much effort and decisiveness were indeed implemented – so, too, will this dream be fulfilled, with G-d's help. Just wait and see…

More and More Jews are Drawn to Lizhensk

As expected, the steady flow of Jews to Lizhensk only intensified with the years. The much-improved conditions drew more and more people, from all age-groups, to the holy site. Lizhensk attracted them like a magnet – and whoever visited Lizhensk on the Yahrtzeit of the holy No'am Elimelech one year, could not possibly forgo the opportunity of going back for the Yahrtzeit of the following year. The amount of people who came to pray in Lizhensk doubled. The little renovated pub could no longer accommodate so many people…

The administration at 'Hachnassas Orchim Lizhensk' examined the situation and came to the exciting conclusion that Rabbi Elimelech is calling out to his people, to his children, and they hear his calls and come…they come and pour out their hearts at his gravesite, and with tears running down their cheeks they fall over the grave and desperately beg for assistance, for salvations. Thoughts of repentance and remorse fill their hearts and they are elevated and taken to new spiritual heights by the profound holiness and purity of the site. Whoever visits there – does not remain the same person. He is a changed man.

Countless stories of personal salvations are heard from between the old pub and the newly established mikvah. So-and-so needed a shidduch for his daughter – and his prayers were answered; another prayed for children – and was granted his request. Yet another Jew needed a speedy recovery for his sick son - and his son recovered; another one who had not been able to provide for his family for many long years and was on the verge of despair – was suddenly asked to serve as the manager of a successful company…

The many stories of salvation draw more and more desperate and embittered people to the gravesite, each person with the heavy burden which he carries on his shoulders. Each and every person needs a place to rest, a quiet corner where he can lie down. Each and every one of them also needs to be served a hot bowl of soup; not only tee and some refreshments.
The administration of 'Hachnassas Orchim Lizhensk' saw all these needs and vowed to offer solutions…


Therefore, Today…

As of today, the mikvah is part of a three-story building which was established solely to accommodate all the visitors. There is a large synagogue equipped with all the necessary items as well as a kitchen where hot meals are served – for free, of course. Additionally, there are several bedrooms which the guests can use to rest for a few hours, several heated mikvahs and comfortable dressing rooms and showers.
However, that was still not enough.

Hundreds of Cohanim visit the holy site each year. Form the time of the Tifferes Shlomo – who was himself a Cohen and would pray at the gravesite nevertheless – thousands of Cohanim have walked in his footsteps and visited the holy site. However, while the general public had a tent in which to stand and be speared the heavy winds, the Cohanim were forced to stand under the bear sky in rain and snow. Therefore, 'Hachnassas Orchim Lizhensk' rents a huge, heated caravan each year that serves as a synagogue for the Cohanim, who are prohibited from approaching the grave, from which they can see the gravesite through the windows.
On the Yahrtzeit, a large, heated building opposite the cemetery is rented where all the visitors can enjoy a hearty meal, warm up and rest.

In the old pub, an active shtiebel is operated. And there is more to come…

Real Hospitality

"This is called real hospitality", the visitors are heard saying every year, with tears of gratitude and excitement in their eyes. "Unlimited and undiscriminating hospitality, towards the rich and towards the poor! There is no other such place!"

'Hachnassas Orchim Lizhensk' of today is so naturally taken for granted, that one cannot possibly imagine what Lizhensk would be without it! 

"Whoever wants to acquire real fear of G-d should go to the gravesite of Rabbi Elimelech of Lizhensk and pray there, and his prayers will bare fruit."
(Rabbi Meir of Premishlan)

"Rabbi Elimelech of Lizhensk has promised that whoever prays at his gravesite will not pass away without repenting"

(Chassidic commentary)



Shabbosos in Lizhensk

Lizhensk – Throughout the Year!
Everything started with the Yahrtzeit…
When the Yahrtzeit of Rabbi Elimelech fell on a Friday or a Motzaei Shabbos, it created a complicated situation: it was almost impossible to visit the gravesite early enough in the morning so that one would have enough time to return before Shabbos, and it was even more difficult to stay in the estrange country of Poland for a whole Shabbos. So many Jews wanted to come to Lizhensk for the Yahrtzeit – some of them made the tremendous effort, but many more had to concede and forgo their dream.

The administration of 'Hachnassas Orchim Lizhensk' thus undertook the incredibly difficult task of hosting the many visitors for a whole Shabbos.
However, this is easier said than done.
Between 1,300 and 1,500 men are hosted on Shabbos Yahrtzeit in Lizhensk. For these 1,500 people meals and drinks have to be prepared, bedrooms have to be arranged, some means of privacy have to be granted, fresh towels have to be handed out, a prayer hall as well as a dining hall have to be found, clean bed linens have to be distributed and a heating system has to be set up (the Yahrtzeit always falls in the winter when the temperatures reache minus twenty degrees Celsius!).

'Hachnassas Orchim Lizhensk', as of today, owns several buildings with bedrooms where 150 people can comfortably be hosted. Additionally, the local school building is rented by 'Hachnassas Orchim Lizhensk' where the classrooms are converted to spacious hotel suites. Folding beds, bed linens, towels – and another 250 people can be accommodated.

But what about all the rest?

For them, 'Hachnassas Orchim Lizhensk' rents the local market place from the municipality. The site is spacious, empty and comfortable. A large tent is erected and connected to a heating system. The air in the tent is warm and pleasant despite the freezing temperatures outside. Inside, the tent is divided into small units with the help of plastic dividers with attached doors. Each unit is capable of accommodating four people. This way, each visitor is allocated a relatively private and comfortable room. Folding beds are purchased by 'Hachnassas Orchim Lizhensk' and regular beds are rented. Huge wash machines and dryers are constantly providing fresh, clean towels and mounds of bed linens that will enhance the stay of the visitors.
Another tent serves as the dining hall for over 1,500 people (!)…here, too, a heating system is operated and countless chairs and tables are added.

In the meanwhile, the kitchen works full-time to provide everyone with delicious, heimish food. Many food products are brought in from Israel. The Shabbos meals are rich and satiating with several kinds of fish and meat served as well as many side dishes, hot chicken soup and dessert – indeed, it is a special Shabbos, a Shabbos to be celebrated with pleasure and delight!

The tent which serves as a synagogue receives a backup of Torah scrolls, and on Shabbos it is full to capacity. Many shtreimlach can be seen in Lizhensk – a sight that has not been seen there since the local Jewish community was wiped out during the war. The little town is re-occupied by Jews, and Rabbi Elimelech's eyes watch from afar…indeed that is his old shtetl! Can we even begin to imagine what tremendous sight that must be? A Shabbos in Lizhensk!

It is almost impossible to restrain the excitement…

"On the contrary, put it in our hearts that we should only see the good qualities in our friends" – the famous words of Rabbi Elimelech are sung with intense fervor and enthusiasm as 1,500 Jews from across the spectrum of Torah Jewry are seated around beautifully set Shabbos tables – shtreimlach and knitted kippot, spodiks alongside kneitsch hats, striped Chassidic robes next to colorful shirts. Each and every one of them truly sees only the good qualities in their friends as all of them together – all as one – have come to pray at the gravesite of the holy Rabbi Elimelech.

The atmosphere is one of togetherness, of spiritual elevation, of repentance.
A Shabbos in Lizhensk elevates the soul and purifies it. He, who has not experienced a Shabbos in Lizhensk, has never experienced a true Shabbos…

But the Yahrtzeit Shabbosos are not the only special experiences in Lizhensk.
   
The elevated atmosphere of holiness draws countless Jews, who wish to ascend above the mundane every-day life, to Lizhensk throughout the year as well.  

'Hachnassas Orchim Lizhensk' is open every day during the morning and afternoon hours and is always ready to serve a hot meal to anyone who might need it. During other hours, one can reserve a place in advance. The organization continues to maintain the site throughout the year, with warm water in the mikvah and a clean bedroom by early reservation. Maps, keys, instructions – are all ready for any visitor!
'Hachnassas Orchim Lizhensk' greets groups of visitors who wish to spend a Shabbos in Lizhensk throughout the year. These groups will receive their own 'hotel' free of charge, delicious meals for Shabbos and Yom Tov, fully equipped bedrooms, a mikveh and a synagogue – all for free!                
Today, all the above-mentioned services are offered in the same building, and provide the visitors with maximum privacy and comfort.

During the recent years, over half the Shabbosos of the year are occupied by groups!

To reserve rooms for your group, at least three weeks prior to your planned visit, please contact us at: _____________
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Hachnassas Orchim Lizhensk , 5314 16 Ave#416 Brooklyn NY 11204 , phone: 800.871.8454 / 917.586.4724