The Coming Satmar Split: It’s All About Hatred … And Money

Mattew Wagner of the Jerusalem Post reports on the split in Satmar between supporters of two of the late Rebbe’s sons and the fight for hundreds of millions of dollars in property and assets:

Ostensibly, the split between the Aharonis and the Zalmanis is ideological. Zalmanis accuse Aharon of straying from the strict anti-Zionist Satmar ideology set down by their founder, Rabbi Yoel Moshe Teitelbaum.

Aharon married the Viznitz Rebbe’s daughter, who learned at the Hebrew-speaking Beit Ya’acov School for girls. Satmar refrain from conversing in Hebrew, the holy language, in protest against Zionism. They strongly oppose Beit Ya’acov schools that teach in Hebrew.

“Aharon is not fit to be the next Satmar rebbe because he broke the Satmar rule against speaking Hebrew in the home,” said Der Yid’s Weiss, who spoke to The Jerusalem Post in fluent Hebrew. “After the death of our rebbe we will continue to wave the anti-Zionist flag. That is one of our main goals.”

Wagner notes something that differentiates Satmar from other haredim in a good way:

Unlike the general haredi community, most Satmar Hassidim work. They have international business connections and are active in the diamond trade, real estate, computers and industry such as nylon production, furniture, brush production, and crystal products.

The late Satmar Rebbe served as the president of Edah Charedis, the Jerusalem-based umbrella group of anti-Zionist haredim. Rabbi Halberstam of Edah Charedis also passed away this week. How will this effect Edah Charedis?

Teitelbaum served as the president of the Edah Haredit, an amalgamation of ultra-orthodox sects both hassidic and Lithuanian, many of whom predate the establishment of the State of Israel. His death may result in a leadership crisis.

“We are in an uncomfortable situation now,” said Shmuel Popenheim, editor of Ha’edah, an Edah Haredit publication. “Until now the rebbe was a unifying force and the Edah did not have to take sides in the conflict between Aharon and Zalman Leib.

“But know it will be difficult to avoid hurting one or the other side’s feelings.” Popenheim, a Hassid of Toldot Aharon, which is loosely related to Satmar [and also, surprisingly, to Chabad], does not expect violence among Satmar Hassidim in Israel as a result of the split. “Most of the action is going to be in America.”

Many were surprised that Teitelbaum’s funeral in New York was conducted peacefully. But it is widely expected that when the seven-day mourning period ends on Sunday and the conflict heats up, there will be violent incidents, as there have been in the past between the camps in New York.

“In Israel,” says Popenheim, “people will stop praying in the same shuls, they will stop sending their children to the same educational institutions they might even break off into separate neighborhoods. But they won’t beat each other up.”

Popenheim may not expect violence. If Vegas were making a line on this, no violence would be a 10,000 to 1 shot. Safe money is on war.

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12 Comments

Filed under Haredim, Israel

12 responses to “The Coming Satmar Split: It’s All About Hatred … And Money

  1. ah yid

    Satmar refrain from conversing in Hebrew, the holy language, in protest against Zionism.

    the Hebrew they refrain from is modern Hebrew
    not the holy tong at all.

  2. Shmuel

    I’m with you on the war prediction. There will be further fights, unfortunately. There’s way too much at stake and, while the courts will be deciding most of it, the rank and file will feel compelled to have their say as well in the form of shul fights, etc. What was will be…you don’t have to have Solomonic wisdom to see that.

  3. Modern Jew

    Here is how I’d settle it-

    A Mud wrestling match between the two sides-Not just one but a world series of wrestling matches- first some between young Satmar girls (appropriately dressed of course then going to boys then up in age to the rabbi’s seeking control. One point for each match.

    And of course there is precendant-The founder of our company Jacob aka Israel had a big match with an Angel.

  4. Anonymous

    We’ll look GREAT to the nonjewish community

  5. Shmuel

    We don’t look too good to them right now, with fights in every shul whenever Zalman and Aaron get together. The truth is, weird ideas have to kind of…marinate in the brain a bit, then they become more and more palatable. I like the idea of a World Series Satmar Smackdown, and I think we ought to propose it to the authorities. Judge Rosenwasser, that is. If he says yes, that might end the perpetual chillul Hashem, and I’ll be laughing till the day I leave this world.

  6. Chozer B'She'ela

    Among the inherent problems of Hasidut is its divisiveness. This is particularly apparent when a leader dies, but it exists at all times.

    The early critics of Hasidut were bothered most not by its ideology, nor by the downright weird behaviour of many adherents, nor even by the movement’s purported violation of halachot related to the times for tefilot, but by Hasidut splitting communities. In most European towns there was in those days a single kehilla operating under a single rav ha’ir; then Hasidut came around and people started leaving the main kehilla and neglecting the authority of the local rav in order to follow their own ‘derech’ and ‘rebbe.’

    To this day, the various Hasidic sects are, on a normal basis, the source of much machloket, division and sinat chinam, the sin for which the last beit hamikdash was destroyed.

  7. hashfanatic

    It’s about power.

  8. Yochanan Lavie

    Maybe the Vilna Gaon was correct, after all. What a shame. I like the emphasis on joy, music, etc., but not chasidut’s hero worship.

  9. Neo-Conservaguy

    “Aharon is not fit to be the next Satmar rebbe because he broke the Satmar rule against speaking Hebrew in the home,” said Der Yid’s Weiss, who spoke to The Jerusalem Post in fluent Hebrew.

    Is this writer funny, or what? Put that with the complete ignorance these haredi folks have for the history and development of semitic languages and I’ve been chuckling for several minutes now with no end in sight.

  10. Anonymous

    chozer besheala, ahve you heard of a yeshiva called ponovitch?

    it can hardly be called chasisidish, yet the infighting there puts the satmar quarrels to shame

  11. Shmuel

    I’m not sure if Ponovitch puts Satmar to shame—Satmar has lots of talent in the crazy/rowdy/violent/flag-burning department—but your point is still well taken. That yeshiva sure has seen its share of fights over succession. But then, maybe they finally read Dr. JJ Shachter’s article on the Netziv and the famous Volozhiner yeshiva, where he details the pitched fights between the students of Reb Chaim Brisker and the Netziv over succession. Who says Jews can’t fight? We fight with each other ALL THE TIME.

  12. Chozer B'She'ela

    To anonymous, I said machloket was inherent to hasidut, not exclusive.

    To Shmuel–Who says Jews can’t fight? If you are talking about Satmaresque fighting, God: “Ve’ahavta l’reacha kamocha.”

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