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Hasidism

Hasidism or Chassidism (both: hăs´ĬdĬz´əm, khă–) [Heb.,=the pious], Jewish religious movement founded in Poland in the 18th cent. by Baal-Shem-Tov. Its name derives from Hasidim. Hasidism, which stressed the mercy of God and encouraged joyous religious expression through music and dance, spread rapidly. Baal-shem-tov taught that purity of heart is more pleasing to God than learning. He drew his teaching chiefly from Jewish legend and aroused much opposition among Talmudists, who in 1772, pronounced the movement heretical. Hasidism shows the influence of the Lurianic kabbalah (see kabbalah; Luria, Isaac ben Solomon). After the death of the Baal-shem-tov, the single most important characteristic of the movement—the leadership role of the zaddik—developed. The zaddik, the charismatic leader around whom various Hasidic groups gather, serves as an intermediary between his followers and God. Leadership is passed from father to son (or in some cases to son-in-law). By the 1830s the majority of Jews in Ukraine, Galicia, and central Poland were Hasidic, as were substantial minorities in Belarus and Hungary. In the 20th cent., Hasidim are the staunchest defenders of tradition against increasing secularism in Jewish life. Since the Holocaust, the main centers of Hasidism are in the United States and Israel. The most notable Hasidic community in the United States is composed of the followers of the Lubavitcher rebbe, who are noted for their outreach to other Jews as well as for their messianic fervor. Romantic reworkings of Hasidic doctrine by Yiddish writer I. L. Peretz, theologian Martin Buber, and others have become popular outside traditional Hasidic circles.

See G. Scholem, Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism (1946, repr. 1961); M. Buber, Hasidism and Modern Man (tr., 1958, repr. 1966) and The Origin and Meaning of Hasidism (tr., 1960); E. Wiesel, Souls on Fire (1972); H. Rabinowicz, Hasidism and the State of Israel (1982) and Hasidism: The Movement and Its Masters (1988); G. D. Hundert, ed., Essential Papers on Hasidism (1991).

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Hasidism

Hasidism (Heb., ḥasidut). Jewish religious movement which emerged in the late 18th cent. Hasidism first arose in S. Poland and Lithuania, with such charismatic leaders as Israel b. Eliezer (Baʿal Shem Tov, the Besht), Dov Baer of Mezhirech and Jacob Joseph of Polonnoye. These leaders drew groups of disciples around them, characterized by popular traditions of ecstasy, mass enthusiasm, and intense devotion to the leader, the Zaddik. Hasidic groups travelled as far as Erez Israel, and hasidic centres were to be found throughout E. Europe. With the great waves of immigration of the 1880s, Hasidism spread to the USA.

Initially there was considerable opposition to the movement from such figures as Elijah b. Solomon Zalman, the Vilna Gaon. Early Hasidism was thought by opponents to be tainted with Shabbateanism and Frankism (see FRANK, JACOB). Its mystical enthusiasm was also thought to detract from the sober study of Torah. However, by the mid-19th cent., despite the different practices and rituals of the movement, the Orthodox acknowledged Hasidism as a legitimate branch of Judaism.

Hasidic social life is centred on the court of the zaddik who is seen as the source of all spiritual illumination (e.g. devekut). Stories of past and present zaddikim are circulated as part of the mythology of the group. As in the root source, Ḥabad, worship is characterized by joy, and is expressed in song and dance as well as prayer. A major goal is the individual bittul ha-yesh (the annihilation of selfhood) in which the worshipper is absorbed into the divine light. The best-known modern expositor of Hasidism is Martin Buber whose Tales of Rabbi Nachman (Eng. 1962), Tales of the Hasidim (1947–8), and Legend of the Baal Shem (Eng. 1969) interpreted the movement in the light of existentialism.

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Hasidism

Hasidism a mystical Jewish movement founded in Poland in the 18th century in reaction to the rigid academicism of rabbinical Judaism. The movement, which emphasized the importance of religious enthusiasm, had a strong popular following. Denounced in 1781 as heretical, the movement declined sharply in the 19th century, but fundamentalist communities developed from it, and Hasidism is still influential in Jewish life, particularly in Israel and New York.

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Hasidism

Hasidism Popular pietist movement within Judaism founded by Israel ben Eliezer (c.1699–c.1761), known as the Baal Shem Tov (Master of the Good Name). The movement, centred in e Europe until World War II, strongly supports Orthodox Judaism. Its main centres are now in Israel and the USA.

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Hasidism

Hasidism

2049

Bluzhever Hasidism

Belzer Yeshiva
1779 51th
Brooklyn, NY 11213

Shapira is an outstanding Polish Hasidic family by which several dynasties were established in the nineteenth century. One was established at Bluzhever. The present Rebbe in Williamsburg is a descendant of Rabbi Elimelekh Shapira of Dinov. He survived the Holocaust; the American Army arrived at the concentration camp just before he was due to be executed.

Membership: Not reported.

2050

Bobov Hasidism

c/o Hessi Halberstam
4909 15th St.
Brooklyn, NY 11219

The Halberstam family has contributed to the formation of several Hasidic groups. The Bobov dynasty was founded in the nineteenth century by Rabbi Benzion Halberstam. He was a noted composer and his "niggun" (melody), "Yah-Ribbon" ("God of the world"), is still chanted on Sabbath evenings. The Bobov are known for their musical creativity. Under Rabbi Benzion's leadership, Hasidic education spread throughout Galicia in the Carpathian Mountain region of Southern Poland. Rabbi Benzion actively resisted the Nazis and was murdered for his efforts.

Though most of Rabbi Benzion, his family, and his following were wiped out in the Holocaust, Rebbi Shlomo Halberstam (b.1905) and his eldest son Naftali escaped and found their way to America. Here, Halberstamm began to gather a new following, many who had no Polish background, which grew steadily as Jewish families came to respect his mild-mannered pastoral approach. He founded a yeshivah which by 1985 had some 3,000 elementary students (many of whose families had no attachment to the Bobov organization) the largest religious school in the Boro Park area of Brooklyn. He also assisted displaced Jews in Europe and built a following in London and Antwerp, as well as gathering members in Canada and Israel. As Reb Shlomo has aged, his son and designated successor has begun to assume some of the responsibilities of maintaining the community he will soon lead.

Membership: Not reported.

Sources:

Mintz, Jerome R. Hassidic People: A Place in the New World. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1992. 434pp.

2051

Bostoner Hasidism

New England Chasidic Center
1710 Beacon St.
Brookline, MA 02146

The Horowitz family has been a prominent Jewish family for many centuries, producing numerous rabbis. It was frequently divided between those supporting and those opposing Hasidism. Among the first Hasidic rebbes in the United States was Grand Rabbi Pinchas D. Horowitz, who settled in Boston around 1920. He came from that branch of the family which had settled in Jerusalem several generations earlier. The lineage is carried on by descendants, who have centers in Brookline, Massachusetts, and Brooklyn, New York. The Brookline center has become well known as a center for young Jews exploring their heritage through Hasidism. The center is led by Rabbis Meier Horowitz and Levi Horowitz.

Membership: Not reported. There are two centers.

Sources:

Shabbos, Zmiros, and Yon Tov. From the Rebbe's Table. Brookline, MA: New England Chasidic Center, 1983.

2052

Bratslav Hasidism

864 44th St.
Brooklyn, NY 11219

Nachman of Bratslav (1772-1810) was a Ukrainian great-grandson of Baal Shem Tov. He became known, even as a child, for his asceticism. After he made a trip to the Holy Land, a group formed around him. He died at an early age, thirty-eight, and as he passed away he was heard to say, "My light will glow till the days of the Messiah." His followers interpreted his statement to mean that they would never need another rebbe. Unique in Hasidism without a living rebbe, the Bratslav are referred to by other Hasidic groups as the "dead Hasidim."

The main synagogue of the Bratslav is in Jerusalem and is headed by the Rosh Beth, who, though not a rebbe, is the spiritual leader. Emphasis in the movement is on utter simplicity and warmth of feeling. Prayer is a major activity. Teachings are found in the thirteen stories of Rebbe Nachman which emphasize that the trials of life are to be seen as preludes to new soarings of the spirit.

In Brooklyn, the Bratslav group is headed by Rabbis Leo Rosenfeld and Gedaliah Freer, who have gathered followers of the tradition primarily from young Orthodox Jews attracted to the Hasidic traditions. Through the Breslov Research Institute, attempts have been made to promote studies based on Rabbi Nachman's teachings and to translate his writings into English.

Membership: Not reported.

Sources:

Freer, Gedaliah. Rabbi Nachman's Fire. New York: Hermon Press, 1972.

——. Rabbi Nachman's Foundation. New York: OHR MiBRESLOV, 1976.

Green, Arthur. Tormented Master. New York: Schrocken Books, 1979.

Nachman, Rabbi. Azamra!. Brooklyn, NY: Breslov Research Institute, 1984.

2053

Chernobyl Hasidism

1520 49th St.
Brooklyn, NY 11232

The Twersky family has given the world of Hasidism several dynasties. The oldest began with Menahem Nahum ben Zevi (1730-1787) of Chernobyl in the Ukraine, a contemporary of the Baal Shem Tov. Never a zaddik himself, he helped the initial spread of Hasidism in the Ukraine and laid stress on purification of moral attributes to make one worthy of the Torah. His son, Mordecai Twersky (1770-1837), was the first zaddik and real founder of the Chernobyl dynasty. Mordecai had eight sons. Aaron Twersky, the eldest, continued the dynasty, and the rest founded their own dynasties, which dominated Russian Ukrainian Jewry in the nineteeth century. Members came to the United States after the Russian Revolution. Three Hasidic groups headed by members of the Twersky family currently function in the United States.

Chernobyl Hasidism is represented in the United States by Rebbe Israel Jacob Twersky.

Membership: Not reported.

2054

Congregation of New Square (Skver Chasidism)

N. Main St.
New Square, NY 10977

Isaac Twersky (1812-1895), seventh son of Mordecai Twersky, settled at Skver, southwest of Kiev, and began a new dynasty in the 1830s. Members of the Skver dynasty came to the United States after World War II. In 1963, they purchased more than one hundred and thirty acres in Spring Valley, Rockland County, New York, when they built the village of New Square (supposed to be New Skver, but erroneously recorded at the courthouse). Approximately 700 members live there; others remain in Williamsburg. The Rebbe Jacob Joseph Twersky lives at New Square. The building of the isolated village symbolizes the thrust of the Skver faith: the keeping of the law and no compromise with the modern world. Residents of New Square commute regularly to New York as a place of employment. Nonresident Skver Chasidism (Hassidism) is in a thirty-family, self-contained community at nearby Monsey, New York. Rebbe Twersky's son-in-law, Rabbi Mordecai Twersky, is head of the second group.

Membership: In 1988 the congregation reported 20,000 members in 15 centers in the United States and 2,000 members in one center in Canada. There were additionally 3,000 members in centers in England, Belgium, and Israel.

Educational Facilities: Rabbinical Seminary of New Square, New Square, New York.

Yeshiva of New Square, New Square, New York.

Sources:

Gould, Joan. "A Village of 'Slaves to the Torah.'" The Jewish Digest (October 1967): 49-52.

2055

Kabbalah Centre

83-84 115th St.
Richmond Hill, NY 11418-9808

Alternate Address International Headquarters: 25 Burgrashov St., Tel Aviv 63342, Israel.

The Kabbalah Learning Centre, also known as the Research Centre of Kabbalah, was founded in 1922 by Rabbi Yehuda Ashlag (1886-1955), a mystic and scholar who hoped to open the teaching of the Kabbalah, the Jewish mystical system, to anyone who desired to study it. Traditionally, the Kabbalah was considered the subject for a few elite scholars. To accomplish his goal, Ashlag translated the entire Zohar, the basic Kabbalistic text, from Aramaic into modern Hebrew. He organized the text, breaking it into chapters and paragraphs. He also wrote an introductory text on the Zohar, which has been translated into English as Ten Luminous Emanations.

Ashlag was succeeded by his student, Rabbi Judah Brandwein, who continued translating the Aramaic Kabbalistic texts into Hebrew. Following his death in 1969, Brandwein was succeeded by Dr. Philip S. Gruberger, now known as Philip S. Berg. Berg, who is the present dean of the centre, was an orthodox rabbi who met Brandwein in 1962 and became his close disciple. In 1965, Berg opened the initial American office of the centre in New York City, New York. He moved to Israel in 1974 with his wife, Karen Berg, now the assistant director of the centre, who began teaching the Kabbalah in the early 1970s.

Under Berg's leadership the centre has expanded its program, opening offices across Israel, and in Europe, Canada, and Mexico. In 1981 Berg moved back to the United States. During his years leading the Research Centre, Berg has been a prolific author. His books written in English have provided a popular introduction to the Kabbalah and have attracted a wide following. The translation of his basic text, Kabbalah for the Layman, into Spanish, French, German, Russian, and Persian, led the way for the centre's spread in Europe and the Middle East. His texts on reincarnation and astrology have provided an introduction of the centre to Jews affected by the New Age Movement.

The center has an Internet site at http://www.kabbalah.com.

Membership: Not reported. There are two centers in the United States, in Los Angeles, California, and New York.

Periodicals: Kabbalah Magazine.

Sources:

Ashlag, Yehuda. Kabbalah: A Gift of the Bible. Jerusalem, Israel: Research Centre of Kabbalah, 1994.

Berg, Philip, ed. An Entrance to the Zohar. Jerusalem, Israel: Research Centre of Kabbalah, 1974.

——. Kabbalah for the Layman. 3 vols. Jerusalem, Israel: Research Centre of Kabbalah.

——. The Wheel of the Soul. Jerusalem, Israel: Research Centre of Kabbalah, 1984.

2056

Klausenburg Hasidism

Current address not obtained for this edition.

A branch of the Halberstam family founded the dynasty at Klausenburg-Sandz in the nineteenth century. Rabbi Zevi Halberstam was killed in the Holocaust. His son, Rabbi Yekutiel Jehudah Halberstam settled in the United States, but in 1956 migrated to Israel and founded Shikun Kiryat Zanz near Nathania, which attained a population of 2,000. Kiryat Zanz has its own yeshiva, a school for girls, a kindergarten and a diamond factory. Only a remnant of the Klausenburg Hasidim remains in Williamsburg, a section of Brooklyn. In Montreal, there is a Metivta (Yeshiva) under the direction of Rabbi Samuel Undsorfer.

Membership: Not reported.

2057

Lubavitch Hasidism

770 Eastern Pkwy.
Brooklyn, NY 11213

By far the largest of the Hasidic bodies is the Lubavitch. The arrival of its rebbe, Rabbi Joseph Isaac Schneerson, (1902-1994) in New York in 1940 signaled the rebirth of Hasidism in the New World. Compared with most Hasidic groups, it is open and evangelistic toward its non-Hasidic Jewish neighbors, and has established Lubavitch Hasidism as a national body. Lubavitch Hasidism began in 1773 in Lithuania under the leadership of Rabbi Schneur Zalman (1745-1813), a child prodigy and student of Rabbi Dov Baer, an outstanding Hasidic scholar. Upon Dov Baer's death in 1772, Rabbi Zalman was sent to Lithuania as a Hasidic missionary. He spent the rest of his life in Lithuania and Russia, teaching and writing. His works include the Likutic Amarian, better knownas the Tanya, the essential text of the Chabad, as his teachings became known.

A second Rabbi Dov Baer (1773-1827), the Mittler Rebbe, the son of Rabbi Zalman, succeeded as leader of the Chabad. After his father's death, he settled in Lubavitch in White Russia, the town which gave the dynasty its name. Rabbi Dov Baer was succceeded in turn by Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson (1789-1866), son of Rabbi Zalman's daughter; Rabbi Samuel Schneerson (1834-1882), Rabbi Mendel's son; Rabbi Sholom Dov Baer (1860-1920), Rabbi Samuel's son, and Rabbi Joseph Isaac Schneerson (1880-1950), the son and secretary of Rabbi Dov Baer, who brought the movement to America.

The Lubavitch work actually began in the mid-1920s when Rabbi Schneerson formed the Agudas Chassidas Chabad of the United States of America and Canada. He visited the United States in 1929, during which time he met with President Herbert Hoover. He had settled in Warsaw after World War 1. When his life was threatened by Hitler's legions, the Rebbe was finally persuaded to migrate to the United States.

Chabad is a combination of the initials of "Chochmah," "Binah," and "Daath," the highest virtues in the Kabbalistic system. Daath (knowledge), Chochmah (wisdom) and Binah (intelligence) are three sephirot on the Kabbalistic tree. Faith and belief in God share an insistence on intellectual study and understanding of religious truth. The emphasis on truth has made education basic to the Lubavitch program. The love of one's fellow Jew (Ahavas Yisroel) is a second emphasis of Lubavitch to an openness to the entire Jewish community, in contrast to most other Hasidim, who generally hold a low opinion of their lax, nonpracticing brethren.

Music and dancing are important to Lubavitcher life. Dancing is the bodily manifestation of inward joy. It is always done by males separately from females, as mixed dancing is prohibited by Jewish law. There are two varieties: circle dancing, in which the hand is placed on the shoulder of the brother in front, and rikkud, jumping and skipping up and down. Dancing is a vital part of the festivals, including Purim and the Hasidic historic anniversaries.

Headquarters of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, are in Brooklyn, where the Tomchoi T'mimim, the Lubavitcher Yeshiva, is located. A year after Rabbi Schneerson arrived in the United States in 1941, he was placed in charge of the Merkos L'Inyone Chinuch, the educational arm of the Lubavitch movement; more than 67 educational institutions have since been founded. He also guided the development of Merkos Publication Society, the major publisher of Hasidic literature in the United States, and the Ezrat Pleitim Vesidurom, a relief organization in 56 cities across the United States.

In the wake of the fall of Communism and the U.S. victory over Iraq in the Gulf War, Rabbi Schneerson suggested that a time of peace and tranquility, the time of Moshiach (messiah) was imminent. Many came to believe that he was the messiah. Following his death, no new leader has been designated, many awaiting his return. That position has been denounced by other non-Hassidic Jewish bodies.

Membership: There are more than 200,000 Lubavitchers worldwide.

Periodicals: Talks and Tales. • The Uforatzto Journal.

Sources:

Challenge. London: Lubavitch Foundation of Great Britain, 1970.

Dalfin, Chaim. The Seven Chabad-Lubavitch Rebbes. Jason Aronson, 1998.

Ehrmann, Naftali Hertz. The Rav. New York: Feldheim Publishers, 1977.

Mindel, Nissan. Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Ladi. Brooklyn, NY: Chabad Research Center, Kehot Publication Society, 1973.

Mintz, Jerome R. Hasidic People: A Place in the New World. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1992.

Schneerson, Menachem Mendel. I Await His Coming Every Day: Based onTalks of the Lubavitch Rebbe. Brooklyn, NY: Kehot Publication Society, 1998.

Schneerson, M. M. Letters by the Lubavitcher Rebbe. Brooklyn, NY: Kehot Publication Society, 1979.

Warshaw, Mal. Tradition, Orthodox Jewish Life in America. New York: Schrocken, 1976.

2058

Monastritsh Hasidism

Current address not obtained for this edition.

The Rabinowicz family has one of the most outstanding Hasidic lineages and is the source of several dynasties. The founder of the dynasty was Jacob Isaac Rabinowicz (1765-1814). As a wandering preacher, he was guided to Rabbi Jacob Isaac Horwitz, the father of Polish Hasidism, known for his psychic abilities and often referred to as the "sad-eyed Seer of Lubin." The Seer told Jacob Isaac that he was a reincarnation of Patriarch Jacob Mordecai and Rabbi Jacob ben Meir Tam (a twelfth-century scholar). He quickly became known as a Talmudic scholar and a seeker of justice. He gradually separated from the seer and established himself at Przysucha.

The emphasis of Jacob Isaac was introspection, aimed at making an individual a good Jew. He thought it essential that one neither lies to himself nor lives in superficiality. The highest pinnacle of the love of God could be acquired only by painstaking personal striving. He insisted on "Kavanah," concentration and devotion in prayer. Przysucha services were not always at the proper times; it was better to pray late than to pray without Kavanah. Action and service, charity and loving kindness were seen as the measures of sincerity.

The Biala dynasty was founded by Rabbi Isaac Jacob Rabinowicz (1847-1905), a direct descendant of Jacob Isaac. Rabinowicz became known for his devotion to the Sabbath, a topic that fills most of his writings. The Biala tradition was passed to Rabbi Yechiel Joshua Rabinowicz (b. 1895). He survived the Nazis by fleeing to Siberia, then in 1947 he settled in Israel. He was known as a miracle worker and he established a Yeshiva (a school for Talmudic study) at B'nai Brak. Rabbi Nathan David Rabinowicz heads the Biala in London.

The Monastritsh Hasidic tradition was brought to the United States in the early 1920s in the wave of Russian Jewish migration by Rebbe Joshua Hershal Rabinowicz (1860-1938). Monastyrshchina is a town west of Minsk in present-day Byelorussia.

Membership: Not reported.

2059

Novominsk Hasidism

1569 47th St.
Brooklyn, NY 11220

The Novominsk dynasty was founded by Jacob Perlow (1847-1902) who as a young rabbi was advised to "go to Poland, raise a family and establish a dynasty." He settled at Minsk-Mazowiech, not far from Warsaw. His fame and following grew, and he built a Yeshiva and a large synagogue. Upon his death, his son, Alter Yisrael Shimon Perlow (1874-1933), succeeded him. Known for his intensity of prayer and passion while preaching, the young rabbi moved to Warsaw in 1917 and drew crowds to his Sunday discourses.

In 1925, Rabbi Yehuda Arye Perlow, brother of the Rebbe of Novominsk, arrived in New York and established the Novominsk dynasty. The current rebbe is Rabbi Nahum Perlow, son of A.Y.S. Perlow, who had accompanied his father from Poland.

Membership: Not reported.

2060

Satmar Hasidism

℅ Congregation Y L D'Satmar
152 Rodney
Brooklyn, NY 11220

The Satmar Hasidic tradition is one of the newest, having been founded by Rebbe Yoel Teitelbaum (b.1886) in the first decade of the twentieth century. Following the death of his father in 1904, Yoel, the second son, moved from Sighet, his birthplace, and founded his own group at Satmar in Northeast Hungary. Zionism was becoming a growing force in European Jewry in these formative years of Satmar, and from the yeshiva he had established at Orshovah, Yoel actively opposed Zionism. After the unexpected death of Rebbe Yoel's brother in 1926, the leadership of the dynasty passed to Yoel instead of the new Rebbe of Sighet. Yoel's prestige grew steadily until 1944, when the Holocaust hit Hungary. The Rebbe was saved, ironically, by his Zionist enemies, and he escaped to Switzerland.

In 1946 Rebbe Yoel settled in Williamsburg in Brooklyn with the few survivors of the Holocaust. The Congregation Yetev Lev D'Satmar, established in 1948, had 860 members by 1961. Many of these were converts. The anti-Zionist stand remains the distinctive feature of Satmar Hasidism. The Natorei Karta (Guardians of the City), an ultra-orthodox anti-Zionist group in Jerusalem, has placed itself under Satmar's care. Members believe that since only the Messiah can re-establish Israel, the attempt to set up a Jewish state is blasphemy. In 1965, Amram Blau, the leader of the Natorei Karta, was relieved of his position for marrying a divorced convert from Catholicism.

Headquarters of the Satmar movement are in Brooklyn, where there are a number of groups. They have purchased land at Monroe, New York, for the establishment of a Satmar Community. Satmar groups are also found in Jerusalem and B'nai Brak, Israel; Antwerp, Belgium; London, England; Montreal, Quebec, Canada; Montevideo, Uruguay; Sao Paulo, Brazil; and Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Rabbi Yoel had a stroke in 1968 and was somewhat hampered in the performance of his duties during the last decade of his life. He died in 1979. His nephew, Rabbi Moshe Teitelbaum, then the Rabbi of a small congregation in the Boro Park section of Brooklyn, was designated his successor and installed in office in 1980.

Membership: Not reported.

Sources:

Gersh, Harry M., and Sam Miller. "Satmar in Brooklyn." Commentary 28 (1959): 31-41.

Mintz, Jerome R. Hassidic People: A Place in the New World. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1992. 434pp.

Rubin, Israel. Satmar, An Island in the City. Chicago: Quadrangle Books, 1972.

——. Satmar: Two Generations in an Urban Island. New York: Peter Lang, 1997.

2061

Sighet Hasidism

152 Hewes St.
Brooklyn, NY 11211

Rebbe Moses Teitelbaum of Ughely, Hungary, was the founder of the Teitelbaum Hasidic dynasty. The third in the succession, Rebbe Zalmen Leib Teitelbaum, established the center of the work at Sighet (now in northern Rumania). Until 1926, Sighet was a prominent Hasidic center, but the sudden death of Rebbe Hayin Hersch Teitelbaum in that year left his fourteen-year-old son, Zalmen Leib Teitelbaum, as heir to the succession. Since Hasidism is built on the charisma of the rebbe, the Sighet center never regained its former authority. After the Holocaust, the Sighet Hasidic community was disrupted. Finally, it was re-established in Zenta, Yugoslavia by Rebbe Zalmen Leib's brother, Rebbe Moses Teitelbaum. Rebbe Moses moved to the United States and now leads the survivng members from Brooklyn.

Membership: Not reported.

2062

Stolin Hasidism

Stolin Bet Midrash
1818 54th St.
Brooklyn, NY 11211

Possibly the first zaddik to reach the United States was Rabbi Yaakov (Jacob) (d. 1946), the son of Rabbi Israel of Stolin. During his life there were four centers for prayer (stieblech) in Brooklyn and one in Detroit. By 1940, there were approximately 100 families under Reb Yaakov's leadership and holding the young adults was a major problem. In the meantime, the Stolin Hassidim in the Soviet Union suffered under the German onslought and four of Reb Israel's other sons were killed by the Nazis. Only one, Reb. Yohanan survived the war and made his way to Israel. Following Reb. Yaakov's death, a delegation went to Israel and persuaded Reb. Yohanan (d. 1957) to assume leadership of the American flock. Among his first efforts was the mobilizing of the community to create a yeshivah for the young men. Though not known for his public teachings, he was extolled for the miracles attributed to him.

Following Reb. Yohanan's death, the Stolin community was headed by two men designated by him, there being no family member ready to assume the task. In 1967, the properties were signed over to then 13-year-old grandson of Reb. Yohanan, and over the next decade, he gradually assumed his duties. Reb. Barukh Meir continues to lead the Stolin Hassidim in New York, though he has taken up residence in Israel. He has gained some notice for his efforts for Russian Jews and remains in contact with the small Stolin community that still exists in the Ukraine.

Membership: There are approximately 300 families associated with the Stolin Hassidim in the United States.

Sources:

Mintz, Jerome R. Hassidic People: A Place in the New World. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1992. 434pp.

2063

Talnoye (Talner) Hasidism

Current address not obtained for this edition.

David Twersky (1808-1882), sixth son of Mordecai Twersky, established his dynasty at Talnoye, south of Kiev in Russia. It is said that he lived luxuriously and sat upon a silver throne with the words, "King David of Israel lives forever." In the United States, Rebbe Yitzhak Twersky carries on the tradition.

Membership: Not reported.

Sources:

Even, Issac. "Chasidism in the New World." Communal Register (New York) (1918): 341-46.

2064

Work of the Chariot

(Defunct)

The Work of the Chariot was a Jewish mystical group active during the 1970s which made its main objective the translation, publication, and distribution of Jewish, Christian, and Islamic mystical material, particularly Hasidic/Kabbalistic source materials. The work was centered in three groups which met to practice the principles of practical mysticsm. Two were in Los Angeles and one in Hollywood. Affiliate groups were located in England and Israel, and a number of distinguished scholars served as consultants in the translation work.

The Work of the Chariot published its own translation of Kabbalistic texts such as the Book of Formation, the Book of Splendor and the Tree of Life by Rabbi Yitzaq Luria, La'Ari. The Group was heavily Kabbalistic. The Chariot of God of Ezekiel is a major theme in Kabbalistic literature. Its authors attempted to know not the unknowable Ein Soph, but the Throne of God on its Chariot. Such knowledge is one of the "secrets" of God, to be obtained by theurgic (magical) means.

Sources:

Book of Formation (Sepher Yetzirah), The Letters of Our Father Abraham. Hollywood, CA: Work of the Chariot, 1971.

Book of Names. Hollywood, CA: Work of the Chariot, 1971.

Work of the Chariot, Ezekiel, Isaiah, II Kings. Hollywood, CA: Work of the Chariot, 1971.

Work of the Chariot, Introduction. Hollywood, CA: Work of the Chariot, 1971.

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Hasidism

HASIDISM

This entry consists of the following articles:

an overview
habad hasidism
satmar hasidism

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Hasidism

HASIDISM

Jewish pietist movement, born in the eighteenth century in the Ukraine and Poland, under the impetus of Israel ben Eliezer, called "Baal Shem Tov." Hasidism taught that man should unite with God through meditation, contemplation, study and respect for the ascetic life. It was inspired by the Kabbalah, but in practice it was in opposition to the hermetic doctrine from which it emerged, which was meant for an intellectual elite. The founder of Hasidism and his companions were opposed to religious austerity, emphasizing joy and fervor of prayer. The ideas and doctrine of this movement came into conflict with the traditional rabbinate, whose principal leader was Eliahu ben Shlomo, called the Gaon of Vilna. The Hasidim believed in the sanctity of the earth itself, and so lived there without accepting the political authority of the state. Hasidism accorded priority to the religious fervor of the chant over intellectual knowledge of the Torah, also considering dancing as a prayer and as a way of achieving spiritual ecstasy and elevation. Gradually, through various migratory waves, this movement developed in Europe, North America, and Israel.

SEE ALSO Kabbalah; Torah.

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