Yisroel Avrohom Portugal
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Yisroel Avrohom Portugal (or Israel Abraham Portugal) (born June 2, 1925) son of Rabbi Eliezer Zusia Portugal and his first wife, Sheina Rachel, is the Rebbe (Grand Rabbi) of Skulen in Brooklyn, New York.
Currently, Rabbi Portugal lives primarily in the Boro Park section of Brooklyn but spends some time including about half of the Jewish holidays in Williamsburg, Brooklyn where his father lived. He is widely sought after for his blessings and advice. He is known for lacking involvement in bodily pleasures (due to his lack of sleep and eating no more than a meal a day) and for his humble nature. He is also known for his constant battle against practices he does not approve of for Jews, such as possessing a television or a computer with internet service, and even the growing of their hair (except for boys under three and unmarried girls, as in Hasidic tradition).
Following his father, he is a habituated composer of Hasidic songs. He always (except on Shabbat and Jewish Holidays) carries with him a small tape recorder to record any new tune that would come to his mind. He has already composed thousands of songs. Most are forgotten after they are recorded, but many of them are sung at his tishen, and a handful of them have become classics in the Hasidic community.
Rabbi Portugal has close ties with many Hasidic rebbes. He heads the Chesed L'Avraham charity organization in Israel founded by his father, and is actively involved - traveling worldwide - in fundraising for it.
Since the death of his wife, Reizel (daughter of Rabbi Menachem Ze'ev Stern of Oberwischau), in 2005, he changed some of his practices, including traveling less and wearing his peyos hanging down rather than tied around his ears.
Rabbi Abba Hiah Tauber, a very influential Hasidic Rabbi from Monsey, New York is a Skulener Hasid.
Portugal has five sons and three daughters.
- Rebbetzin Leah Libba – oldest child of Rabbi Yisroel Avrohom Portugal. Wife of Rabbi Chayyim Dov Stern of Bnei Brak, son of Rabbi Yitzhak Yehuda Stern of Bielitz .
- Rebbetzin Chaya Sarah – second daughter of Rabbi Yisroel Avrohom Portugal. Wife of Rabbi Shimon Yoel Weinberger, Skulener Dayan of Williamsburg, son of Rabbi Moshe Dov Weinberger.
- Rebbetzin Nechamah – youngest daughter of Rabbi Yisroel Avrohom Portugal. Wife of Rabbi David Leib Klughaupt, head of Skulener Kollel of Boro Park, son of Rabbi Ya'akov Shlomo Klughaupt, son of Rabbi Levi Yitzhak Klughaupt.
- Rabbi Yeshaya Yaakov Portugal of Montreal, Canada – oldest son of Rabbi Yisroel Avrohom Portugal. Has many followers of his own.
- Rabbi Meir Portugal – second son of Rabbi Yisroel Avrohom Portugal. Formerly Rav of Skulen Avreichim Klil Tiferess in Boro Park. He resigned from this position in March, 2013.
- Rabbi Ephraim Chayyim Yehuda Portugal, Skulener Rav of Spring Valley, New York – third son of Rabbi Yisroel Avrohom Portugal.
- Rabbi Zvi Noach Portugal, Rav of Skulener shtiebel of Lakewood, New Jersey – fourth son of Rabbi Yisroel Avrohom Portugal.
- Rabbi Shmuel Mordechai Portugal – youngest child of Rabbi Yisroel Avrohom Portugal. Rabbi Shmuel Mordechai married his niece Sheina Rachel Stern (daughter of Rebbetzin Leah Libba, and oldest grandchild of Rabbi Yisroel Avrohom Portugal) in 1990 (an acceptable type of marriage according to Judaism).