The History of the Munkács Community Before the Holocaust
The Hasidic Rabbis of Munkács
For some 50 years, from the time that Rabbi Tzvi Elimelech Shapira left the community, Munkács was left without a Hasidic leader, although kernels of Hasidim sewn by the Rabbi later flourished. In 1881, members of the community asked his grandson, Rabbi Shlomo Shapira, to come and serve as their rabbi. Rabbi Shlomo Shapira answered their call and came from Strzyżów, Galicia, where he was serving as Head of the Beit Din. During his tenure (1882-1893), Rabbi Shlomo Shapira began to form a young Hasidic movement in Munkács, drawing to the town Hasidim from across Galicia.
In 1893, after the passing of Rabbi Shlomo Shapira, his son, Rabbi Tzvi Hirsch Shapira, took over. Rabbi Tzvi Hirsch Shapira was dismissed by the Hungarian authorities for not knowing Hungarian, but he continued to serve unofficially until his position was reestablished. He established the Munkács Kolel and Aseret Haglilot, an institution that collected money from the Jews of Munkács and Subcarpathian Rus' to send to the representative of the Kolel in Jerusalem, supporting the scholars and poor families that had left Hungary for the holy city. Over time, with the support of the Munkács Kolel, a neighborhood known as Batei Munkács was built in Jerusalem, outside the walls of the old city. Rabbi Tzvi Hirsch Shapira wrote a number of books: Darchei Teshuvah, Tiferet Tzvi, and Be'er Lechai Ro'i. Tiferet Tzvi contains some of the Torah lectures and responsa of his father, Rabbi Shlomo Shapira.
In 1913, after the passing of Rabbi Tzvi Hirsch Shapira, his only son, Rabbi Chaim Elazar Shapira, was appointed chief rabbi and Admor (Grand Rebbe) of the Munkács Hasidim. Rabbi Chaim Elazar Shapira was known as a Torah genius, zealous in his rulings, and intolerant of the Misnagdim. He fought all those who, in his opinion, endangered his hegemonic rule of the town and the region. He also conducted a war of excommunication against the Zionists. With his passing in 1937, he was succeeded by his son-in-law, Rabbi Baruch Yehoshua Rabinowitz.