Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

28 Nisan 5766 - April 26, 2006 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










Produced and housed by
Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network











The Satmar Rov, HaRav Moshe Teitelbaum zt"l

by Mordecai Plaut

HaRav Moshe Teitelbaum, rov of the Satmar Chassidim worldwide, was niftar in New York City on Monday 26 Nisan at the age of 91. The levaya was held the following evening, leaving from Williamsburg in Brooklyn for the burial in Kiryas Yoel in upstate New York.

HaRav Teitelbaum was born in Ujfeherto, in what is now eastern Hungary near Sighet, on Tuesday 28 Cheshvan 5675 (November 17, 1914). He was named after the 18th-century founder of the Satmar dynasty, from whom he was descended. He lost his father at a very young age. As a young man he served as the rov of Zenteh. When the region fell to the Nazis, HaRav Teitelbaum was sent to Auschwitz with his wife and three children. He was the only survivor from his immediate family.

After the war, he remarried and moved to the United States in 1946, where he first opened a beis medrash in Williamsburg. His uncle HaRav Yoelish, a major Torah personality in Europe even before World War II, re- established the Satmar community there. Later HaRav Moshe founded a congregation in Borough Park.

When his uncle was niftar on 26 Av 5739 (1979) HaRav Moshe was chosen to succeed him. He officially became the Satmar Rov on the first yahrtzeit of HaRav Yoelish.

The flourishing community established by HaRav Yoelish continued to blossom under his nephew. The Satmar community today has large congregations in Williamsburg and the village of Kiryas Joel, 45 miles (72 kilometers) northwest of New York City. There are also important communities in Borough Park, Yerushalayim, Lakewood, London, and other cities around the world.

The Williamsburg community numbers some 35,000, and now spills over into adjacent neighborhoods. Kiryas Yoel, in Orange County, has more than 15,000 residents. It was established by the previous Rov and later named after him. Estimates of the total number of Satmar chassidim around the world vary, but all agree that it is a large community, kein yirbu.

It was estimated that the Satmar schools in New York are the fourth-largest school system in the state, after the public school systems of New York City, Buffalo and Rochester.

Rabbi Solomon Gelbman, a Satmar historian, told the New York Times that HaRav Teitelbaum had likened himself to Yaakov Ovinu, who considered himself custodian of the great works begun by his fathers Yitzchok and Avrohom before him.

"Yaakov said, `I'm not digging any new wells; I'm just watching the wells that the father and the grandfather dug, that they should continue to produce clean water,' " Rabbi Gelbman said. "Rabbi Moshe said the same thing: `Rabbi Joel dug the wells. I'm just tending them.' "

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg called HaRav Teitelbaum, "A gentle soul who carried himself with poise and distinction."

"From the fires of the Holocaust, the grand rebbe and his uncle performed a miracle here in New York by rebuilding their community to match its glory days in Europe," Bloomberg said in a statement.

In 1999 HaRav Moshe chose HaRav Zalmen, his third son, to take over the main congregation in Williamsburg. He had previously named HaRav Aaron, the eldest son, to run the Satmar congregation in Kiryas Yoel, N.Y. It is not yet clear who will now take over the overall leadership.

HaRav Moshe entered the hospital on Rosh Chodesh Nisan, March 30, for treatment of spinal cancer and other ailments. The doctors thought that he had recovered and would soon be released, but they were wrong.

Thousands of mourners crammed into the main Williamsburg shul Monday night for the beginning of the levaya at around 10 pm. Many more were outside. Police sent hundreds of officers to control the crowds. The official police estimate of participants in the levaya in New York was said to be more than a hundred thousand.

In communities around the world thousands more participated in the levaya through telecommunications hookups. The Gavad of the Eida HaChareidis, HaRav Weiss, was also maspid from Yerushalayim.

The aron went to Kiryas Yoel, arriving at about 3:30 in the morning local time, where there were more hespedim. Many thousands came to the levaya and traffic was snarled for miles around. The Rov was buried in the Kiryas Yoel cemetery at around 7 am near his great uncle.

HaRav Moshe Teitelbaum zt"l is survived by his wife, Moras Pessel Leah; his sons Rabbis Aaron, Lipa, Zalmen and Shulem; two daughters, Bracha Meisels and Hendy Halberstam; and at least 86 grandchildren and great-grandchildren. There was a report that his first great-great-grandchild was born the day he was niftar.


All material on this site is copyrighted and its use is restricted.
Click here for conditions of use.