Daily Israel Report

Satmar Rav Dies; His Son, Rabbi Zalman, Chosen to Succeed Him

The Satmar Rebbe, Rabbi Moshe Teitelbaum of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New York, passed away Monday night at the age of 91 in Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York.
By Hillel Fendel
First Publish: 4/26/2006, 11:41 AM / Last Update: 4/25/2006, 11:13 AM

Many thousands of people attended his funeral, which closed down streets in Manhattan and Brooklyn. He was buried in the Satmar community in Kiryas Yoel, in Orange County, New York.

Rabbi Teitelbaum headed what is apparently the United States' fastest-growing Hassidic group. The Satmars number an esimated 60,000 in New York, including over 35,000 in Williamsburg and another 15,000-20,000 in Kiryas Yoel. Several other communities in Jerusalem, Bnei Brak, London and elsewhere number only several hundred each.

In addition to New York real estate holdings valued at close to a half-billion dollars, the New York Times reported that if the Satmar schools were a public school system, it would be the fourth-largest system in New York State, after those of New York City, Buffalo and Rochester.

The deceased rabbi, author of Berach Moshe, survived the Holocaust, though his wife and children did not. When he arrived in New York, he married again and began a new family, which now numbers six children and 85 grandchildren; a Satmarer member in Jerusalem estimated that this number includes great-grandchildren as well. The rabbi's first great-great-granddaughter was born the day he died.

He succeeded the previous Satmar Rebbe, Rabbi Yoel Teitelbaum, the author of the seminal Satmar work VaYoel Moshe, in 1980.

Satmar Hassidism is staunchly anti-Zionist, but should not be confused with the pro-PLO Neturei Karta sect. The previous Rebbe, Rabbi Yoel, explained that unlike Neturei Karta members, he would not meet with Yasser Arafat because he does "not meet with murderers." The Satmarers do believe, however, that the State of Israel is a violation of Jewish Law, in that it is a forbidden attempt to hasten the Redemption process.

The deceased rabbi did not publicly choose a successor in his lifetime, leading to stiff competition between two of his sons, Rabbis Aaron and Zalman Teitelbaum, and their respective followers. His will, read aloud at the funeral, designated Rabbi Zalman as his successor. Rabbi Zalman's son, Rabbi Chaim Tzvi Teitelbaum, heads the Jerusalem branch of Satmar, while a son of Rabbi Moshe's daughter, his oldest child, heads the Bnei Brak group.