During the funeral last week for Rabbi Shlomo Halberstam, a weeping voice barreled over loudspeakers to tens of thousands of mourners gathered outside the main Bobover synagogue in Borough Park. From the crowded synagogue in the Brooklyn neighborhood, where a simple wooden coffin held the 92-year-old body of the Bobover rebbe, the speaker announced, in Yiddish, that Rabbi Halberstam's eldest son, Naftali, would succeed him as leader of the chasidic group.
"Mazel tov," the speaker added in a tearful undertone.
Rabbi Shlomo Halberstam, a Polish-born Holocaust survivor who revived his Bobover chasidic group in Borough Park and helped turn the Brooklyn neighborhood into one of the largest American bastions of Orthodoxy, died there Wednesday in Maimonides Medical Center. He was 92, and had been in poor health in recent years.
The day after the death of Rabbi Naftuli Halberstam, rebbe of the Bobov chasidim, his half-brother Benzion sat at the Bobover rebbe’s designated place of honor — the raised platform in the middle of the sanctuary — for the Megillah reading at the central Bobov synagogue in the Borough Park section of Brooklyn.