May 20, 2024
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Nahum Twersky Reunites Tolna Branch Of Twersky Dynasty at Keter Torah

Official book launch of ‘The Tolna Legacy: Past, Present and Future,’ co-authored by Nahum Twersky and Dov Lev.

Most of us are familiar with the legacy of the Baal Shem Tov and his many descendants, including one of the leading and largest Chasidic dynasties, the Twersky [also Twerski] family.

Although many of us have some, or maybe even detailed records of our extended family, this amazing family maintained records of their ancestry all the way back to the beginning, and they are still connected. If you look online, you can find the detailed family tree of the Baal Shem Tov as well as extended branches of the descendants, either charted or in elaborate works of art.

“Connected,” said Nahum Twersky, is the operative word in his outlook and efforts.

Or maybe more accurately, “connectedness.” In a recent interview, Nahum Twersky commented that he attributes to his late father, Aaron Twersky, a”h, his devotion, focus and attention to the value and importance of staying connected as a family and to the Jewish community at large. More than that, he explained, “My father also instilled in me the concept of the future of the family, and in fulfilling our destiny.” To witness how meticulously and the extent to which a family has preserved its past, it is understandable why they go to such lengths to also assure their future and to fulfill the mission of their ancestors.

Congregation Keter Torah hosted a reunion last Sunday of the extended family, which also served as the official book launch of the Tolna Legacy: Past, Present and Future,’ co-authored by Nahum Twersky and Dov Lev.

The Tolna branch of the Twersky family extends back to the youngest disciple of the Baal Shem Tov, Menachem Nachum Twersky of Chernobyl. Born in 1730, he authored “M’Or Einayim,” widely recognized as one of the tenets of chasidut. His work and his perspective are known to have transformed Jewish life in the Ukraine. In 1773, he initiated his own Chasidic court in Chernobyl, established on the foundations of humility and sincerity, temimut. Menachem Nachum Twersky was succeeded by his son, Reb Mordechai Twersky, whose eight sons each founded their own Chasidic court, several of which continue until today: Chernobyl, Hornisteipel, Rachmastrivka, Skver, Tolna and Trisk.

Nahum Twersky’s father, Aaron, was a son of Menachem Nachum, grandson of Reb Dovid Twersky of Tolna. Reb Dovid was hugely popular, and had an enormous following of Chasidim. Menachem Nachum sent his eldest son Dovid (named for his illustrious grandfather of Tolna) to the United States in 1913 to establish roots here, and to eventually bring over the others, which he did with the exception of a few.

It was his father, Aaron Twersky, a”h, who inspired Nahum Twersky in the value of family and the importance of these values upon a community. To wit, he and his family have been ardent supporters of their shul, Keter Torah, and involved in numerous Jewish communal organizations, many of which are focused on acceptance within the spectrum of Jewish spiritual expression. Nahum also serves as curator/director of the “Touro Talks” program at Touro University.

The culmination of a three-year project, Sunday’s reunion and the production of the family legacy and photo book were assisted generously by Sivya, Nahum Twersky’s wife and life partner of nearly 55 years; by Sima Jacoby his sister; and by Tova Fishman Taragin, his cousin once removed. In addition to the hardbound book and reunion, the first since 1981, they produced a slideshow presentation of photos and other artifacts musically set to the Tolna family niggun which was arranged, performed and recorded by dear friend of Nahum Twersky, the notable ’60s Motown composer and arranger William Goldstein. Not surprisingly, the niggun is mellow, moving and tranquil.

The reunion was attended by about 70 Tolna Twersky descendants, many of whom had never met, or hadn’t seen each other since the previous reunion 42 years ago. Twersky traveled to Israel this week to conduct a second reunion with Tolna descendants there, and also to distribute the book memoir to those family members.

The hardbound “Tolna Legacy” books were distributed to family members, and are also available on Amazon.

By Ellie Wolf

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