THE VORHAND SHUL
Amid the sophistication, hustle and bustle of Manhattan’s West Side lies an oasis of tranquility in an otherwise busy town - the Vorhand Shul.
“Rabbi Vorhand’s Shul,” as it is affectionately called, attracts all kinds of Jews; Chasidim and Misnagdim, Ashkenazim and Sephardim. It is known as a unique shul where you can find all kinds of hats, shtreimels, or no hats.
The shul has gained popularity, not only because you can always find a minyan (three for shacharit), but the beauty of the tefillot and high level of learning are like magnets that keep pulling people back.
Beginning with early morning prayers and the daily Daf Yomi shiur, the attendees start their day feeling invigorated and accomplished, ready to take on the world. And at the end of the busy day, they once again come to the Mincha and Maariv services, where they are further enriched by inspiring & stimulating shiurim (lectures) and Yeshiva-style learning with high-level chavrusos partnering with shul attendees, illuminating their nights with the light of Torah.
Several times a year, especially during the Holiday season (Yom Tov), worldclass Rabbis and lecturers grace the shul with their presence, educating and inspiring community members.
The shul also features special events during Chanukah, Purim, Lag Ba’omer and other Jewish holidays, all under the direction and guidance of the Rav, shlita .
Thanks to the tireless efforts of our distinguished Rabbi, Rav Moshe Vorhand, the Prager Rav’s son and successor, the shteibel has developed into the true sanctuary of Torah and prayer that it has become.
It continues to emanate a warmth straight from the Old Country while taking a rightful place of honor in today’s New York.
From Prague to the West Side
THE story of the life and deeds of Hagaon Rav Zev Tzvi Vorhand ל“זצ has many chapters. His illustrious heritage, his close relationship with his saintly grandfather the Makover Rov ל“זצ in whose yeshiva he studied diligently for many years, and his early years as a rabbi in pre-war Czechoslovakia form the opening chapter. His brilliant plan to charter a river steamer to go down the Danube through the heart of Europe and through Romania into the Black Sea to evacuate over 1000 men, women and children to Eretz Yisroel, established his credentials as an inspired angel of rescue even before the outbreak of war.
But it is his role as an activist and dynamic Rav in Prague at the end of World War II, which made him a figure of world renown. He was an organizer without equal within the community, creating Jewish educational institutions, creating Jewish families by officiating at hundreds (or possibly thousands) of weddings, and feeding and clothing vast numbers of survivors clinging to life in the aftermath of the Second World War. Prague, in the first years after World War II, was a hub of Jewish life and migration for many thousands of refugees. Rav Vorhand was a peerless representative of the Jewish community to governmental authorities, facilitating emigration for thousands to Western Europe, the United States and the Holy Land.
Rav Vorhand, with his uncanny ability to forge alliances with all types of people, developed a close rapport with politicians of all kinds. Many secular Jews, who held positions in the communist government, admired and respected the Rav despite their estrangement from their religious heritage. He also developed a lifelong friendship with the U.S. consulate and the U.S. military attaché (and later cultural attaché) Hugo Weisgall, who helped him establish a very important working relationship with Dr. Steinhart, the American ambassador, thus extending tremendous assistance to the Jewish survivors.
Rav Vorhand served as the official representative of the Agudath Israel World Organization, and his office was also the local branch of the (British) Chief Rabbi’s Emergency Council. He also served as the local representative of the American Vaad Hatzala and often advanced significant funds on their behalf.
All the major communal leaders of Orthodox Jewry who visited Prague looked to the Rav for help, and considered his home their base,including: Hagaon Rabbi Eliezer Silver, Hagaon Rabbi Avrohom Kalmanowitz of the Mirrer Yeshiva, Hagaon Chief Rabbi Yitzchok I. Halevi Herzog, and Rabbi Dr. Solomon Schonfeld, Mrs. Recha Sternbuch, Stephen Klein, Herman Treiser, Meir Schenkolewski and others. The contacts and goodwill of the Prager Rav with senior government officials enabled them to help the survivors.
We who had the privilege to know the Rav during his years on the West Side basked in the radiance of his presence and still delight in our opportunity to know and cherish one of the real heroes of wartime Europe and the post-war rebuilding of the Torah heritage.