Rabbi Yakov Lazaros, Chabad Shliach and Director of Congregation Bais Chabad in Framingham, Massachusetts, shared the following with COLlive.com:
From 1953 to 1960, my parents and I lived in Camden, New Jersey, where my father Rabbi Hershel Lazaros OBM was employed by Congregation Sons of Israel as Shamesh, Baal Koreh and Chazzan Sheini. In 1960, he received semicha and began a career as rabbi in several small towns until his retirement.
Leading the Sons of Israel shul was Rabbi Naftali Tzvi Riff, a European-trained Torah scholar and a descendant of the Ntziv (Rabbi Naftali Zvi Yehuda Berlin). The shul had its own Talmud Torah where children learned in the afternoon after public school.
From 1953 to 56, Camden also had a day school called the Hillel School which I attended.
My third grade rebbi in 1955 was Rabbi Felix (Shrage) Wilman, whose wife was a niece of the Chazon Ish, the Gaon Rabbi Avrohom Yeshaya Karelitz OBM. She was the daughter of Mrs. Tzivia and Rabbi Shmuel Grieneman, the brother-in-law of the Chazon Ish.
Rabbi Wilman was also a great admirer of the Lubavitcher Rebbe and convinced my father to get me a subscription to “Talks and Tales,” the Lubavitch children’s periodical. At the same time, my father also bought several Chabad seforim for himself.
In 1956, the Hillel school closed due to financial hardship and I never saw Rabbi Wilman again. I heard that he moved to Brooklyn, NY. In his old age, he moved back to Israel where he was known as a publisher of Jewish books.
Years later, when I was already a Lubavitcher, my father told me that in 1955 Rabbi Wilman shared with him the following:
In 1953, a month or so before the Chazon Ish passed, he knew that Rabbi Wilman was planning to move to the United States. He told Rabbi Wilman that after he [the Chazon Ish] passes away, he should connect with the Lubavitcher Rebbe because “he will be the new Gadol Hador.”
This is the story as I heard it from my father A”H as he heard it from a nephew of the Chazon Ish.
The Chazon Ish was obviously not a chossid. So how to explain what he said about the Rebbe who was only 51 years of age at that time? My only explanation is that the Chazon Ish, who was a holy man, sensed holiness thousands of miles away at 770 Eastern Parkway.