Nowadays, God runs the world better than ever.

The Kloiz

From the Hamber to the Megametor
A Cursory History of the Breslov synagogue in Uman, and its importance to Breslover Chassidim, from Reb Noson's time till today; Including the progress of the Kloiz being built today

5572-5752 (1811-1991)

Rosh Hashanah 1811. Sixty people -- sixty! -- gathered together in Uman for the first Rosh Hashanah following Rebbe Nachman's passing. Uman, the city the Rebbe chose as his final resting place from which to work tikun haolam for the coming generations.

Sixty people, not more. Yet, this was enough to encourage Reb Noson, this was enough to show him that the Rebbe's instruction to join him in Uman to pray on Rosh Hashanah would be fulfiilled for generations to come.

"There will come a time when the police will have to provide traffic control for the thousands who will come for Rosh Hashanah." - Reb Avraham Nachmanson, ca. 1900


The eve of Rosh Hashanah 5752. In the span of just a few short days more than 10 planes full of people have landed at Kiev International Airport, just from Israel alone! Other groups have arrived via Moscow: from England, France and Belgium. From the United States, Canada, South America, Australia and... By land and air and sea, they all converge on Uman. Every one of them is glad to be there -- this is the day they've been waiting for!
On Rosh Hashanah itself more than 2000 people would pray together in the Megametor, a huge factory that was converted into a synagogue. There the huge congregation lifted its eyes to Heaven and proclaimed: GOD IS KING!

The Kloiz -- Foundation of the Kibutz

One of the essential parts of the tikun of Rosh Hashanah with Rebbe Nachman is where the Breslovers gather to pray -- in a Breslover synagogue, or has it always been called, the Kloiz. There where they meet and pray, they provide the "material" for Rebbe Nachman to work with to m'takein (fix) what needs to be fixed. The Rebbe himself said, that as much as we able to fix on an ordinary day, he could fix and accomplish the most on Rosh Hashanah. 

The Kloiz, or, as it was nicknamed by Breslovers of old "the factory of Judaism," was considered by Reb Noson as a crucial element in perpetuating Rebbe Nachman's teachings. He often praise d the words spoken to him by one Reb Mendel of Ladizin, "Reb Noson! If you don't build a beit knesset for us Breslovers you won't have done anything." At one point Reb Noson realized himself that the kibutz (gathering together) for Rosh Hashanah would be impossible if a beit knesset was not built.

"You'll have to remove the old to make way for the new!"

Now, as the new Kloiz is moving toward completion, let us take a quick trip down memory lane to visit some of the places where Breslover Chassidim have prayed the last two hundred Rosh Hashanahs. While we're doing so, keep in mind that this building is the fulfillment of a dream long had by Breslovers for generations.

5572 -- From the Hamber to Shomrim Laboker

For the very first Rosh Hashanah after Rebbe Nachman's passing, the Breslovers had decided to pray in the hamber, a large enclosed patio, of one of the homes that Rebbe Nachman had stayed while in Uman. Reb Noson had certain misgivings about this choice. He understood that the Rebbe wanted his chassidim to mix with other Jews. So, as mincha got under way, Reb Noson took himself and headed for the main synagogue in Uman, Shomrim Laboker. When the others saw that Reb Noson left, they followed him. For ten years the kibutz was held in the Shomrim Laboker synagogue.

5582 -- The Kibutz Moves

For Rosh Hashanah 5582 Reb Mordechai, one of the prominent members of the Uman Jewish community invited the Breslover Chassidim to pray in his large home. As Reb Noson wrote, "God took pity on us and sent Reb Mordechai to invite us into his home. He was very generous, clearing out two rooms for our use and providing us with tables, benches, candles and everything we needed." For the next five years the kibutz was held in Reb Mordechai's house until it became too small to hold all the worshippers. In 5587 the Breslovers had no choice but to meet in the hamber.

5590 -- A Movement to Build the Kloiz

"By 5590 it was just impossible to continue there," writes Reb Noson. "We were very upset and were looking for a place to rent. God had something prepared for us. He sent us an individual whose new home was being finished. He wanted his new inaugurated by the holiness of the prayers kosher, God-fearing Jews. That is where we prayed."
So it was, that Breslover Chassidim wandered from place to place to pray on Rosh Hashanah.

Finally, after all the setbacks and delays, a movement began to build a permanent Breslover Kloiz. As we quoted above, Reb Mendel of Ladizin said, "Reb Noson! If you don't build a beit knesset for us Breslovers you won't have done anything."  Reb Noson replied, "If so, you be the first to contribute." Reb Mordechai, poor as he was, ran home and quickly returned with his last two rubles. He was delighted to give them to Reb Noson.

Reb Noson, though, being quite aware of Reb Mordechai's situation did not want to take the money. However, Reb Mordechai insisted and even begged Reb Noson not to take away this mitzvah from him until Reb Noson finally agreed. Later, when Reb Noson would go fundraising for the Kloiz he would tell those who were well off, "That poor man gave away everything he owned -- shouldn't you?!"

In later years Reb Noson would often say, "I'm not sure what built the Kloiz more, the money of the rich people or the longing of the poor..."

5592 -- Laying the Foundation

In Cheshvan 5592 the foundation was laid for the Kloiz. The building took two years to complete. Often it was Reb Noson himself who supervised the work. In 5593 the kibutz met in the home of a Reb Zalman.

5594 -- Homecoming

"In 5594 we were worthy of praying in our very own beit midrash. It is impossible to fully recount God's miracles and wonders in relationship to this. It wouldn't be believed." Reb Noson notes further with clear joy that he was able to acquire a beautiful sefer Torah, and everything necessary for a proper beit knesset.

Facelifts.  For close to next hundred years the Kloiz was home to the Breslover Chassidim. In 5626 (1866) it was refurbished by Reb Sender of Trehvitza. In approximately 5663 (1903) it was totally renovated by Reb Isaac of Uman. Throughout this entire period the Breslovers warmed themselves by the light of Rebbe Nachman's teaching. Until 5696 (1936).

5596 -- The Kloiz is Closed

In 5696, after a long period of plotting against the Jews, and after the imposition of unduly heavy taxes levied upon them by the Communist government, the era of the Kloiz came to an end. The late Reb Levy Yitzchok Bender, who was in charge of the Kloiz at the time of its closing, pointed out that the Kloiz was the last beit knesset in the area to be shut down. It had become a repository for all the Torah scrolls of the regional synagogues.

After Reb Levy Yitzchok and the late Reb Elya Chaim Rosen were imprisoned the Kloiz was shut down. This is how the situation was described by Reb Aron Leib Tzigelman:

"We received letters from Uman -- from Reb Avraham Sofer, from Reb Matisyahu, from Reb Neshka and from Reb Berel Cohen -- that immediately after Rosh Hashanah the Communist newspapers were filled with a series of articles describing the Kloiz as a hotbed of anti-Soviet activity. Those wicked people have gone so far as to actually shut the Kloiz and the mikveh. Darkness covers the faces of our fellow Breslovers. The apple of our eye, our Rebbe's beit knesset, and the holy mikveh, have been taken away from us. For over 120 years the Rebbe's fire has burned. What will become of us now?"

50 Years Without the Kloiz

The Evil Empire made the Kloiz its captive and turned it into a factory. Not a factory of Judaism, but just a plain ordinary factory.
In those dark years the kibutz was maintained, but only barely so. Few showed up and those that did met secretly, in out of the way houses or in dark cellars. With the Soviet borders sealed tight there were very, very few that made it to Uman. Among themm was Reb Michel Dorfman, who succeeded being there dozens of times.

5749 -- Rosh Hashanah at the Hotel Uman

For 50 years "Rosh Hashanah in Uman" was a Breslover fantasy. The might and strength, the atheism and intransigence of Soviet Russia seemed so Insurmmmountable. Nonetheless, Breslover Chassidim kept up a constant stream of prayer, that God would allow the Rebbe's desire for his chassidim to gather in Uman would yet again become a reality.

Here and there, some chinks in the Soviet armor appeared. Superhuman attempts were made to be in Uman for Rosh Hashanah. In 5749 (1988) a group of about 250 failed to check out of their rooms in the Hotel Uman. They stayed and prayed, and sang and danced. Passersby looked up in confusion at the windows of the old hotel.  They could not fathom what was going on. Most were too young to know that there had once upon a time been a synagogue in Uman, and some were too old to remember.

One of those present was the late Reb Shmuel Shapira. He was in his late 70s and suffering Parkinson's disease. Despite his weakness and pain he persevered so as to be able to fulfill at least once in his life the Rebbe's advice to be in Uman for Rosh Hashanah. Those who were present can neither describe nor forget the ecstasy expressed in Reb Shmuel's dance at the close of the holiday.

5750 -- The Kibutz is Renewed

In 5750 a great miracle occurred -- the dream came true. After 50 years the kibutz was once more! The joy of Breslovers around the world is beyond description. More than a thousand people, including many young children, came from around the world, despite the fact that they had no idea what sort of conditions awaited them. Where they would stay, what they eat were both matters of conjecture. Yet the longing for "Uman Rosh Hashanah" kept them going.

A large factory was rented and hasty preparations began. The Breslover groundkeepers threw themselves wholeheartedly into their work. The great day would soon be at hand.

The Zaved factory, located in a valley a ten-minute walk from Rebbe Nachman's gravesite, had to be emptied of its machinery, and be cleaned in preparation for Rosh Hashanah. One large hall become the beit knesset, one the dining room and other smaller halls and rooms became dormitories. Some slept in bunk beds in rooms so low that those in the upper bunk couldn't sit up! Many of these rooms had no lighting. Many slept on the floor on mattresses so old that seemed to have once belonged to the Czar!

No one cared. They were all so thrilled to be worthy of fulfilling a lifelong dream, to be pioneering partners in opening the gates of Uman. And throughout that Rosh Hashanah elderly Jews, who remembered the Uman of long, long ago joined them.

5751-5752 -- The Megametor

With the success of the first year the number of those who came the following year was doubled. The sleeping quarters were vastly improved and the prayers to another factory, the gigantic Megametor. Many of those who came were not Breslovers. They were Jews who simply wanted to be part of Rebbe Nachman's Rosh Hashanah.

5753 -- The Institute

In 5752 (1992) something unusual happened -- The Soviet Union collapsed. One country became sixteen countries without any bloodshed! The foreboding Iron Curtain fell and Ukraine became an independent nation. With the gates wide-open it became apparent that even the gigantic Megametor would be too small. Something had to be done -- and it was.

The Vaad searched and located an even larger venue. The Institute, a local university, was near completion. It had three large floors, large auuditoriums and dormitory facilities. The auditoriums could be -- and were -- used as a beit knesset and dining room.

That year a new record was achieved. Over 4,000 made it to Uman for Rosh Hashanah! Many crews were formed to assist the newcomers and others who needed help and to prepare the Institute for its guests.

Despite the great success that God granted to the work that was invested, it became obvious from a number of occurrences that Breslov Chassidim would no longer be able to allow themselves to be anyyone's guests. The decision was made: the time had arrived to rebuild the Kloiz! During 5753 (1992-93) a temporary structure was built. There the kibutz prayed for three Rosh Hashanahs, 5754-5756.

Despite being refurbished for Rosh Hashanah 5756 this struccture too was too small. The kibutz had gone from six minyanim to 600! Over 6,000 people came for Rosh Hashanah! A permanent structure was desperately needed -- and soon!

Nowadays, God Runs the 
World Better than Ever.

We ourselves have been privileged to that God does run the world better than before. Breslovers from everywhere anxiously await the opening of the new Kloiz, the beautiful new home of the "factory of Judaism," the spacious new home of the kibutz.
Reb Michel Dorfman and the other members of the Vaad have undertaken the responsibility and the yoke of the entire project. They have worked tirelessly and unceasingly to bring the project to fruition. In particular, Reb Nassan Maimon has gone beyond the call of duty, and has made this a labor of love. Now it?s our turn to help them.

Become a part of history and a part of this historical project.  Think of those who have preceded you and those who will come after you, of those who toiled in the "factory of Judaism" so that the Rebbe?s fire would continue to burn for you and those for whom you can keep the fire burning. Think of those who suffered poverty and disgrace for the Rebbe's sake and think of what contribution you can make so that their efforts will produce yet more fruit.

Open your hearts and your hands and buy seats in the Kloiz for yourself and your family. If you have already done so, think of memorializing a departed friend or relative by making a donation to the building fund. Become a permanent owner in the permanent Kloiz. Do it today.

Building the Kloiz

Although many people have seen diagrams or models of the huge synagogue complex that is being built in Uman, few have seen or heard any information about what it will, God willing, contain. Here is a brief description of its three levels.

The Mikvaot.  The lower level, which is partially underground, will house the mikvaot. This level covers an area of approximately 1,500 square meters.

Five large mikvaot have been dug, beautiful and modern to the utmost. Much planning and forethought was given to the building of the mikvaot. They are being built according to the highest halachich and engineering standards. On the halachich side, rabbis who are known for their expertise and experience in mikvaot are supervising their production. At their head is the internationally known authority Rabbi Nachum Rosenberg of the United States. (Among the halachich virtues are z'riah-fed mikvaot and bor al bor.)

The mikveh level will be divided into three halls. Each of the first two will have two mikvaot and large, spacious dressing rooms and showers to comfortably accommodate the thousands of visitors who come for Rosh Hashanah. The halls will be used on alternate days, so that they can be properly maintained. This will also enable us to avoid halachic problems of using non-Jewish labor on Rosh Hashanah.

A fifth mikveh will be located in the third hall. This mikveh (and its dressing rooms and showers) will be reserved for the physically challenged and the elderly, allowing them to prepare for the holiday with greater ease.

What must certainly be considered a kindness from Heaven was the discovery of an underground spring not far from the building's location! This spring will provide all the water for this facility. This eliminates the need for its being hooked-up to the city's water supply.

(The two small reservoirs that were used last year as mikvaot will now be used to store water for emergencies.)

Guest Accommodations

Located on ground level the guest accommodations will include: a dining room for up to 200; sleeping quarters for up to 80 people; a large, modern kitchen and storage rooms. The main function of the guest accommodations will be to host the visitors who come to Uman at other times of the year.

This Rosh Hashanah the guest lodge will be at the disposal of the teenage yeshiva students coming from around the world.



The Main Synagogue

The focal point of the project, the Kloiz, is making large strides towards its completion. Thousands from around the globe will gather there on Rosh Hashanah to pray together, bonded to the Rebbe z'l.

An internationally known architect has designed the acoustics of the Kloiz. The eastern wall of the synagogue, approximately as long as the Kotel, is particularly wide and narrows as it runs north-south. The reason it was so designed was to eliminate echoes, which could invalidate the sounding of the shofar, and to allow the services and reading of the Torah to be more easily heard.

The windows have been designed to make as much use of natural light as possible.

The area of thesynagogue is approximately 1600 square meters. Above it will be built two large galleries, each of which will be the same in area as the synagogue itself.

At the rear of the lower gallery will be a beit midrash that will be used year-round for daily and Shabbat services. The wall between the two will be made to open so that on Rosh Hashanah the beit midrash will be part of the gallery. Other plans for the beit midrash currently include opening it for outreach programs run by Breslov institutions and other Jewish organizations. In fact, requests to use the new facilities have already been received.

Supervision and Inspection

From its inception every effort has been made to ensure that the Kloiz would be built to the most rigorous standards. The architects and contractors engaged for the project are among the best in their respective professions. Only the highest quality materials have been used to build the Kloiz.

From the moment the building actually began an inspection mechanism was set in motion to guarantee that the work would proceed smoothly and satisfactorily. On-site inspectors daily check daily inspect the quality and progress of the work being done, as well as the quality of all materials delivered.

The Ukrainian government has also taken an active interest in the building of the Kloiz. Every week it sends a regional inspector from Tcharkass to monitor the project's progress and to authorize its continuation.