About Agudas Achim Anshei America Yerushalayim
Agudas Achim – a little bit of history...
Agudas Achim was founded by American Jews in 1898, with the goal of creating a system of mutual aid and helping its members in various fields. After raising a great deal of money and conducting a special appeal in Eretz Yisroel and overseas, the members built a small and separate neighborhood that included thirteen apartments and a beautiful synagogue. A special gemach (free loan society) was also founded in the synagogue.
One of the prominent areas in which the Agudah operated independently was the acquisition of burial plots on Har Hazeisim (Mount of Olives). The Agudah established its own special chevrah kadisha (burial society) to preserve their own burial customs.
After having established the neighborhood and synagogue, the members searched for a suitable rabbi to lead the small congregation. They decided to invite Rabbi Shlomo Chaim Golobentzitz, ztz”l, who had already been considered a Torah sage in his youth and was the chavrusa (study partner) of Rabbi Baruch Ber Leibovitz ztz”l – one of the great Torah scholars of the time. The rabbi settled in the Agudas Achim houses in the Achva neighborhood of Jerusalem, and also sent his son, Yehoshua, an immigration certificate to Eretz Yisroel. Rabbi Golobentzitz ably led the community until his passing in 1939.
After his death, his son, Rabbi Yehoshua Golobentzitz, ztz”l, was appointed in his place, and he led the community for over sixty years. The little community admired the young rabbi who lived simply and with minimal expenses, and founded charitable institutions. After the foundation of the State of Israel, Rabbi Golobentzitz became a “wandering rabbi” for the Ministry of Religion, and traveled between the new settlements to make sure they had eruvin (a device enabling carrying in the public domain on Shabbos) and mikvaos (ritual immersion pools) and establish Talmudei Torah (Torah schools). He was the rabbi of the Agudas Achim synagogue until his death in 2000.
The Agudah’s synagogue includes memorial stones, including one dedicated to the memory of Rabbi Golobentzitz, that notes that he was given responsibility for many years for the courtyard and houses, and it is also mentioned that his son in law, Rabbi Nachman Kirshenbaum, helped him.
The synagogue also contains a memorial stone for Rabbi Tzvi Yehudah Kaufman, vice chairman of Agudas Achim, head administrator of the Tiferes Tzvi Yeshivah and Talmud Torah, who was one of the founders of the gemach and passed away in 1947.
The memorial plaque for Rabbi Yehoshua Golobentzitz, ztz”l, is above the place where he sat, to the left of the Aron Kodesh (Holy Ark). It is inscribed on the plaque that “he led his community in the path of Torah and tradition, and constantly spread Torah in this place”.