Believing Jews from all over the world visit Silistra in the days before the Jewish New Year (Rosh Ashana) to pray at the grave of one of the 12 most revered rabbis, Eliezer Papo, reports BTA. This year, the celebration begins on September 25 and ends on September 27.
The memorial complex, built in memory of the rabbi, has been a center of attraction for pilgrims from Israel, the USA, Europe, and South America for years. They pray, sing and dance, holding hands. Many tell how after praying at the rabbi’s grave, their innermost wishes came true. That is why they continue to come and bring their families.
“We come because of this holy man who is buried here. We believe that if we pray at Papo’s grave before Rosh Hashanah, he will protect us and our relatives and friends,” Chaim Amos, who visits the memorial every year, told BTA .
“When I first came here four years ago, I prayed for my business because I was struggling. Today, things are going well and I am more than successful,” said another pilgrim, attributing his good fortune to the sanctity of the rabbi’s grave.
It is customary for believers visiting the holy site to leave notes with requests similar to the Wailing Wall.
Traditionally, more mass visits to the memorial complex are strictly guarded by the law enforcement agencies.
Eliezer Papo was one of the 12 most revered rabbis of the 19th century. He was born in the family of a rabbi from Sarajevo – the capital of today’s Bosnia and Herzegovina. He graduated as the top of the “Theology” class in the city of Bucharest – one of the most renowned religious schools at the end of the 18th century. When asked to choose where to serve as a rabbi, he says he wants a small and uneducated community, vowing to make it a center of spirituality. His choice falls on Silistra – a small town in the then Ottoman Empire.
He organized a school there. He wrote books, among them his work “Strange Counsels” – Religious Postulates and Spiritual and Secular Texts, now studied all over the world in Jewish communities.
In addition to the rank of rabbi, Papo also had a degree in medicine. Thus he began to heal people regardless of religious affiliation. When a cholera epidemic broke out among Russian soldiers during the Russo-Turkish War (1819-1827), the rabbi got involved in the treatment of the sick by organizing quarantine zones and infirmaries.
He manages to cure many, but he himself becomes a victim of the disease. He was buried on the banks of the Danube, and the grateful people of Silistren erected a monument to him. Later, the monument was demolished by the Turks, and the place where the saint was buried was completely obliterated.