The news of the destruction of the holytziyun of Harav Shlomo of Karlin, Hy”d, zy”a, was greeted with horror by the Chassidic community. The gravesite is located in the city of Ludmir in the Ukraine.
The mounting anti-Semitism around the world has reached the Western Ukraine as well. A group of Skverer Chassidim who came from the United States, led by the son of the Skverer Rebbe, shlita, Harav Yaakov Yosef Twersky, to daven at the tziyun, were shocked at the scene that met their eyes.The outer walls of the ohel were covered in graffiti, including swastikas. Fortunately, the vandals were unable to get inside the ohel and desecrate the actual headstone, because it is locked and can only be opened using a special code that is passed by word of mouth among the Chassidim.
Harav Shlomo of Karlin was killed al Kiddush Hashem by a Cossack and was buried in old cemetery in Ludmir. An ohel was built over his tziyun, which was the only ohel in that cemetery. In an aerial photo from 1944, the ohel still appears to be standing, and in the years after the war it was destroyed. Since the Iron Curtain came down, efforts were made by Karlin Stolin Chassidim to restore and preserve the tziyun, which is currently located in a public park that was built on a large part of the cemetery.
Chassidim would expound on the holiness of the site of the tziyun, which they said was considered to be as holy as Eretz Yisrael. The Yesod Avodah, zy”a, related that he was at the tziyun of Harav Shlomo of Karlin in Ludmir, and he stood there for several hours with no shoes. Despite the fact that it was winter, he did not feel the cold. This was because Harav Shlomo of Karlin had said that he had sanctified his four amos with the holiness of Eretz Yisrael.
Harav Avraham Elimelech of Karlin, Hy”d, zy”a, wrote a letter to his Chassidim in which he quoted his grandfather, Harav Asher of Stolin, the son of Harav Aharon, the Bais Aharon of Karlin, zy”a, that the tremendous sense of awe one felt when standing at the tziyun of Harav Shlomo of Karlin is the same as what one felt when standing before him in his lifetime. Chassidim saw many yeshuos after davening at his tziyun.
To this day, many groups of Jews come from all over the world on trips to kivrei tzaddikim, and they make the trip of several hours to Ludmir to this tziyun to daven for yeshuos.
Harav Yaakov Bleich, shlita, the chief rabbi of Kiev and the Ukraine, told Hamodia that that the issue of the cemetery and the ohel has been under legal discussion with the authorities in Ludmir for the past few years. He related that even when the court justified the claims of the Jewish community and ruled that the cemetery had to be preserved the way it had been throughout the years — despite the government’s claims that there is already a park at the site — residents and the authorities did not pay attention to the court ruling and continued to destroy the cemetery out of a hatred of Jews.
The rav added that askanim are working with authorities in Kiev to influence the authorities in Ludmir not to desecrate this holy site, and to continue treating the cemetery and the ohel with the respect it deserves.