Separatist Hasidic Leader Hailed Cheerfully in US

The head of a separatist faction of the Gur Hasidic (ultra-Orthodox) community has been enthusiastically received in the United States, where he is currently visiting, with thousands of people on the streets to greet him and participate in the celebrations of his visit.

In a dramatic sequence of events in 2019, Rabbi Shaul Alter, the first cousin of the chief rabbi of the Gur Hasidic dynasty, Rabbi Yaakov Aryeh Alter, parted ways with the main Gur community after years of tension between the two, with about 300 families. in Israel following him at that time.

The split was surprising due to Gur’s status as the largest, richest and most influential of the Hasidic communities in Israel. As one of the largest Hasidic movements in the world, the schism dealt a severe blow to its prestige.

The new community, known as Hassidut Alter, now numbers about 500 families, with another 300 in the US, while the main Gur community in Israel is believed to number 100,000 people.

Alter is currently on a trip to the United States, where he has been visiting members of the Gur community who have separated from the main sect and joined the new one.

New York City mayoral candidate Andrew Yang, above, third from left, meets with Haredi Orthodox Jewish leaders in Borough Park, Brooklyn, in an undated photo provided by his campaign. (credit: YANG FOR NEW YORK)

He has also met with great Hasidic rabbis in America who are friendly with him and has been raising funds for the planned Jerusalem headquarters of the new Gur community.

After leaving last Tuesday, Alter met with some of Gerrer’s top officials in the US and visited some of his more established institutions that have shifted their allegiance from the conventional grouping in Israel to Hassidut Alter.

The climax of Alter’s visit was a tisch (joyous Hasidic celebration) after Shabbat ended last Saturday when approximately 15,000 people attended the event in Borough Park, New York, in a huge tent set up for the rabbi’s visit.

Thousands of Hassidim lined the street for Alter when he left the venue after the event.

Shaul Alter also visited a yeshiva in Lakewood, New Jersey, and gave a Torah lesson that was supposedly attended by hundreds of people.

Earlier this year, the new Shaul Alter community ran a tremendously successful fundraising campaign that raised about NIS 50 million, of which NIS 40 million. it has been spent on the purchase of land for the headquarters of the new sect on Jeremiah Street in Jerusalem.

One of the main goals of Alter’s trip to the United States was to raise the funds necessary to finance the actual construction of the building.

The eight-story headquarters will house the new community’s central synagogue, the study hall, and its other institutions, such as schools and yeshiva.

After the split in Gur in 2019, the leadership of the main Gur community began to enact severe sanctions against separatist families with children bullied outside their schools and yeshivas, people laid off from their jobs, and a variety of other measures taken against who joined Shaul. New Alter Community.

Although some of the families who left returned to the central Gur community due to these reprisals, Hassidut Alter has grown in the past two years as families have become more confident that they could find a home in the new community.

Alter’s success in raising funds for the new headquarters and institutions is critical to the future of its young community, as Hasidic life revolves around community institutions and events, as well as schools and yeshiva for its children. without which a community has little viability.

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