The Fighting Teitlebaums
Jonathan Mark of the NY Jewish Week has the best background article I’ve seen on Satmar, although I’m sure some of the finer points will be debated by readers.
From the NY Daily News: Fists Fly At Satmar Rebbe’s Funeral.
Meanwhile, Adam Dickter, also of the NY Jewish Week, has a detailed blow-by-blow account of the conflict, including rival side’s PR firms and street warfare. It closes this way:
“[Williamsburg] is not a community where people move to the Five Towns or to Flatbush. You have four generations davening together in the same shul. There are very few dropouts. This is the great strength of Satmar and chasidism in general.”
In many ways, Satmar is the polar opposite of Chabad. Both had few members in 1950. (Chabad was actually larger than Satmar then.) Satmar now numbers about 100,000 worldwide. Chabad, about half that. But Chabad has thousands of supporters who, while not themselves fully observant, appreciate the good Chabad does – and the slick PR. Chabad also has within its ranks thousands of ba’alei teshuva; Satmar has few. A Lubavitcher hasid from 100 years ago would not recognize today’s Chabad or most of it’s hasidut. A Hungarian hasid from 100 years ago would find little different about Satmar lifestyle and theology.
Which path is dearer to God?