Memory Lane: Rebbe Yisachar Berish Rubin, zt”l, The Dolina Rebbe
The Dolina Rebbe—a saintly figure, scion of the greatest Chassidic dynasties—came to the United States in 1923, and settled in Boro Park following his tenure in Williamsburg and Crown Heights.
In the Courts of Galicia of Yore
The Rebbe was born in the year 1897 to his father Rebbe Yitzchok Eizik of Dombrowa who served as the Rebbe, having inherited the position from his father Rebbe Chaim Yechiel of Dombrowa, Galicia. His mother was Rivka, the daughter of Rebbe Pinchos of Dolina, a descendant of the courts of Zidichoiv and Belz.
Crossing the Atlantic
In 1918, he married Bracha Rokeach, the daughter of his uncle (his mother’s brother) Rav Avraham Rokeach, a great tzaddik who sadly passed away very young, leaving behind two young daughters. The wedding took place in Munkacz, since they, like so many others from that area remained in Hungary throughout WWI. Following the war, the entire family returned to Dombrowa. On September 1923 Rav Yisachar Berish came alone to America—due the terrible poverty— while his wife and four young children remained with family near Sighet. His father came to America on the eve of WWII, but he soon returned to Europe, where he perished at the hands of the Nazis, ym”sh, while his wife and younger children came to America in the late 1920’s.
The following event related to his short time in America was related by an individual to the Doliner Rebbe’s family: “I was an infant in New York during the 1920’s, and I became ill with typhus. The fever went higher and higher… and with no fever reducers available at the time, I soon fell into a coma. My father ran to the Dombrover Rebbe [Rebbe Yitzchok Eizik] who wrote a kamei’ah and told him to place it under my pillow—and immediately I awoke, and proceeded to make a quick recovery. Tonight I am marrying off my last child.”
For years, the Rebbe had his shul near his home, at 218 Rodney Street. In the 1950’s, the planners of the BQE blazed a path right through the heart of Jewish Williamsburg, displacing many homes and shuls—including the Rebbe’s shul. Following this he went to Crown Heights, and in the early 70’s, he settled in Boro Park.
A Legendary Ba’al Tefillah
The family relates that he was such an amazing ba’al tefillah, Moshe Oysher once came to hear him, and walked over, and stated in his Russian Yiddish; “s’doh tzvei vos kennen davvenen, there are two who know how to daven; Moshe Oysher, un der Dolina Rebbe.” He would daven with a choir, and would be very makpid on the accuracy of the tunes—each of which originated from the holiest of sources. It is also said that Cantor Mordechai Hershman came to discuss nusach with the Rebbe.
The Rebbe was mesader kiddushin for the parents of Rav Aaron Schechter zt”l, and was the Rosh Yeshiva's sandak as well. He was also mesader kiddushin for Mike Tress—invited to do so due to a moifes that his father Rebbe Eizik’l did for a member of the Tress family. Thus, the Tress family was always close to the Dolina Rebbe, and indeed, he is seen seated at the head table at the wedding, in the photo that appears in the Mike Tress biography.
The Rebbe was niftar following a bout with pneumonia on 28 Tammuz, 1979, and was interred in the Chelkas Ha’admorim, near a number of family members. He left behind generations of Rabbonim and Talmidei Chachomim who are a credit to his legacy.