Close to 10,000 Hasidic Jews from around the world to pray in Poland
Around 10,000 Hasidic Jews, mainly from Europe and the United States, are expected to visit the town of Lezajsk, in southeastern Poland, to take part in commemorations marking the 235th anniversary of the death of Tzaddik Elimelech Weissblum of Lizhensk.
The first group of visitors to say their prayers at the tzaddik's grave is due to arrive on Wednesday afternoon. The observances will end late on Thursday night.
Those coming to Lezajsk believe that the tzaddik comes down from heaven on the anniversary of his death - he died on March 11, 1787 - and takes their requests to God for health, well-being for their children and success at work.
This is the second of two pilgrimages by Hasidic Jews to Lezajsk. At the end of February, about 5,000 Hasisidim took part in the observances. The double visit to the tzaddik's grave is connected with the Jewish calendar.
Before World War Two, Lezajsk was inhabited by a large Jewish community and was one of the most important centres of Hasidism in Poland. The tradition of visiting the grave of Tzadik Elimelech Weissblum of Lizhensk was revived in the 1970s.
With its grave of Tzaddik Elimelech, Lezajsk is one of the holiest places in the world for Hasidic Jews. Hasidim gather there not only to celebrate anniversaries of the tzaddik's death, but also on the occasion of various Jewish holidays, while making private pilgrimages and tours of Poland.