TODAY: 99th Yahrtzeit of the Tzadik of Freehold

Today is the יאָרצײַט of the “Tzadik of Freehold” – Rav Avraham Yitzchak ben Betzalel Klugman zt”l.

Visiting the “Tzadik of Freehold” or the “Wald-Mensch,” Rav Avrohom Yitzchok Klugman, who died in 1924 and is buried in Freehold. An immigrant from Belarus, he left the Lower East Side for the forests between Lakewood and Freehold where he lived an ascetic existence for 12 years, learning Torah and wandering between the rural synagogues. He was “discovered” by the writer Reuven Brainin, who couldn’t have imagined such a holy “nozir” living in America. The same day that Brainin’s article about Klugman (first in four-part series) appeared in the Yiddish daily Der Tog, the Wald-Mensch was killed after being hit by a train in the forest he called home. In his bag he had been carrying only a gemoro Sanhedrin and tzitzis which he sold to earn money to send to aniyei Eretz Yisroel.

Little is known about the Tzadik. An immigrant from Belarus, the tzadik arrived in the US in the early 1900s. He at first lived on the Lower East Side before leaving and choosing to live in the forests between Lakewood and Freehold, living an aescetic existence for 12 years, learning Torah and wandering between various shuls. He was also reportedly a nazir and a an article about the tzadik – the first in a four-part series – was written in the Yiddish daily Der Tog. The same day that the first part was published, the Tzadik was struck and killed by a train in the forest. In his bag was a gemara Sanhedrin and tzitzis which he sold to earn money to send to aniyim in Eretz Yisroel.

He was brought to Freehold for burial, and a fight ensued between the Freehold Hebrew Benefit Society and the Workmen’s Circle, both of whom wanted to have the honor of burying the mysterious Tzadik in their plots.

A compromise was made, and the Tzadik was buried on the dividing line, with his head in the Hebrew Benefit Society’s chelka and his feet in the Workmen’s Circle chelka.

Many who have davened at his kever have experienced tremendous yeshuos.

The kever is located at the Freehold Hebrew Cemetery in Freehold, New Jersey and is located along NJ-33 Business (which is a split-off of Rt-33) right before Cardigan Bay Lane behind the Freehold Raceway Mall.

The cemetery is made up of a number of sections, with the Tzadik’s kever being towards the middle of the cemetery.

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