Is the Jewish State the Ultimate Evil or a Golden Opportunity? Ideology vs. Politics in the Teachings and Actions of Rabbi Yoel Teitelbaum – the Satmar Rebbe

, September 3, 2018

Rabbi Yoel Teitelbaum (1887-1979) – the Satmar Rebbe – is the subject of numerous academic papers.1 This fact, however, is not trivial and begs explanation. During his lifetime in Europe, Rabbi Yoel’s reputation did not extend beyond the region in which he operated. During that time he was never considered a significant Orthodox figure, nor was he regarded as an exceptional Talmudic or halachic authority. Although he was involved in several rescue initiatives during the Holocaust period, Rabbi Yoel was never considered a major player in that field either. After the Holocaust, Rabbi Yoel did indeed establish a lively and thriving Hasidic court in New York, but because of its secluded nature it had very little impact on American Jewry in general or even on its Orthodox wing.

From a general Orthodox perspective Rabbi Yoel was never credited for writing outstanding hermeneutic, halachic, or even Hasidic texts. In fact, rabbis who wielded far greater influence on either European, American, or Israeli Jewries during the 20th century, or who were renowned for their scholastic works or for their roles as heads of great yeshivot, rarely attracted scholarly interest.2

The question, then, is why did Rabbi Yoel attract so much attention both among the general Jewish public and among scholars? The answer to this question lies in a single concept – zealotry. From an academic perspective, zealots, and particularly religious zealots, are thought-provoking, fascinating individuals and are comparatively easy to understand and describe. Their beliefs are relatively simple to define and comprehend and can readily be compared to those of other thinkers. This makes zealots and their fundamental ideology far easier subjects to analyze than more multifaceted personalities or more complex ideologies.3

From a general Jewish viewpoint Rabbi Yoel is considered the ultimate zealot. His fundamental principles revolve around three axes: first, a total commitment not only to standard halachic principles but also to a higher degree of their observance, alongside strict adherence to a complete set of customs that were prevalent among the Hasidic Jews of Hungarian descent. Second, total rejection of all topics, technologies, manners, and values considered to be modern. Third, the strictest prohibition against dealings with any person, movement, or organization that has anything to do with Zionism. It was these principles and the conflicts surrounding their interpretation and implementation that attracted the attention of scholars.

Religious zealotry is manifested, as several scholars have observed, in an “unquestioned set of beliefs, views, and assumptions that constitute the general framework within which all other questions take place.”4 If this rigid and uncompromising way of thinking represents one form of behavior, it seems that its opposite is represented by down-to-earth practical realism, or in other words: politics. For politics, contrary to zealotry, is the art of compromise between what is ideally desirable and what is practically achievable. Thus, whereas the zealot is expected to stick to his principles regardless of the consequences, the politician is more concerned about the outcome of an action than about the principles that guide it.

This article claims that although he portrayed himself as a zealot, an image that he successfully embedded in Jewish collective memory, Rabbi Yoel was, at the same time, a shrewd politician. The many examples provided in this article prove that on many occasions Rabbi Yoel did not hesitate to abandon principles that he had previously declared as fundamental in order to achieve political and practical goals. The most outstanding and familiar example of such behavior is his boarding the “Zionist” rescue train during the Holocaust, an episode that was investigated in a separate article.5

Considering this basic argument, a further question emerges: Does the fact that Rabbi Yoel was swayed by political considerations and sometimes acted contrary to his own fundamental principles tarnish his image as a zealot, or is the opposite the case? In other words, should a “real” zealot be willing to sacrifice, at certain points, some fundamental principles in order to disseminate these same fundamental principles to the widest possible audience and for the longest period of time?

The answer to this question has a bearing not only on this particular case but also on our general understanding of the basics of religious fundamentalism, and especially on its position regarding the disparity between “pure” theoretical ideology and “impure” considerations dictated by life’s necessities. I return to this analysis in the concluding section.

Entering the Political Realm

Rabbi Yoel was the youngest son of Rabbi Hananya Yom-Tov Lipa Teitelbaum (1836-1904), chief rabbi of Sighet (Sighetul Marmației; Máramarossziget), the seat of Maramaros County in Hungary. The father was also the rebbe of a large Hasidic court, headed Sighet’s central yeshiva, and served as the leader of the general Hasidic community throughout Hungary. From a young age the child Yoel became known for his intellectual prowess and personal virtues, yet he was never groomed to succeed his father as this privilege was reserved for his elder brother. Instead he served as his father’s right-hand man in his political escapades, thereby acquiring the tricks and secrets of the trade.

After Yoel’s ordination as a rabbi and his marriage at the age of 17, his father died. In order to ensure that he would not interfere with the smooth transfer of power to his brother, the destitute Rabbi Yoel was obliged to leave Sighet and settle in the nearby town of Satmar (Satu Mare; Szatmárnémeti).6

From then on the highly ambitious Rabbi Yoel was determined to gain, one way or another, the positions of which he believed he had been deprived. Throughout his life he continued persistently and resolutely to carve out a place for himself as a leader of the Orthodox, and especially the Hasidic, community. To achieve this goal he made the most of his outstanding charisma and his intellectual and political capabilities. This pursuit of power and the constant quest for a leadership role affected Rabbi Yoel’s positions at some of the most crucial junctures of his life, and at times, as we shall see, he even discarded some of the principles he had previously regarded as fundamental. Following are the milestones of his controversial and ambitious political activity.

In 1911 Rabbi Yoel sought to become chief rabbi of Orshiva (Irshava), the seat of a district by the same name. Until then the town had had no rabbi of its own and its small Jewish community relied on the rulings of the chief rabbi of Bilke, a nearby town with a larger Jewish population. After Bilke’s chief rabbi was forced to leave his office, Rabbi Yoel settled in Orshiva. He initially assured the other rabbis that he harbored no political aspirations, but shortly thereafter, with the help of a few local leaders, he managed to get himself elected chief rabbi of the town and of its surrounding villages. This not only undermined the influence of Bilke’s future chief rabbi but also reduced the town’s income from taxes levied on the Jews under its jurisdiction.

The public controversy that erupted was accompanied by slandering, mutual bannings, and even physical violence. Rabbi Yoel’s devious argument employed during the debate was that according to the state law a district’s chief rabbi should reside in the capital. Since he was now the one residing in Orshiva, the Bilke community’s officers should obey him rather than someone resident elsewhere. He offered this argument although he was aware that it contradicted Jewish custom, which protected the historic rights (hazaka) of every community and accorded state law an inferior status to that of Jewish halacha. After a protracted debate and several Jewish court hearings, Rabbi Yoel managed to achieve his goal.7 This was the first but certainly not the last occasion on which his behavior proved that he was prepared to flout prevalent religious customs in order to achieve political power.

In 1920 Satmar’s chief rabbi passed away. Although Rabbi Yoel was only 33 years old, his followers declared him to be the town’s next chief rabbi. This too caused a public controversy owing to his young age and the fact that most of Satmar’s non-Hasidic Jews objected to the appointment of a zealous and controversial Hasidic rabbi. Although the weighty public objection foiled this attempt, the episode had demonstrated both Rabbi Yoel’s audacity and his lofty aspirations.8

Two years later, while still serving in Orshiva, Rabbi Yoel was proclaimed the chief rabbi of a small community of Hasidim in Cluj (Cluj-Napoca; Klausenburg; Kolozsvár). They established this separatist community on the grounds that they refused to accept the rabbinical authority of Rabbi Moshe Shmuel Glasner (1856-1925), the town’s chief rabbi, owing to his pro-Zionist positions.9 This led to a major dispute between the main community and the separatist one. Although Rabbi Yoel never settled in Cluj, his support for the separatist group fueled the conflict for the next couple of years. By supporting the separatist group Rabbi Yoel disregarded the fact that his own revered father had totally rejected the establishment of a separatist community in Sighet in response to his election as the town’s chief rabbi some 40 years earlier.11 This case demonstrates that in order to achieve political gains Rabbi Yoel was prepared to disregard even his own forefathers’ rulings, which he claimed to honor.

In 1926, through yet another political maneuver, he appointed his brother’s son-in-law to replace him in his position in Cluj. This allowed him to run for the position of chief rabbi of Kroly (Carei; Nagykároly). This campaign, like those that preceded it, was met with fierce public resistance to Rabbi Yoel’s appointment:

Since the day Rabbi Shaul Brakh [the former chief rabbi] left his position as leader of the Orthodox community in Kroly and was appointed to the rabbinate of Kosice [a town in Slovakia] – the town has been in turmoil. There are constant clashes between the Hasidim and the [non-Hasidic] Ashkenazim. These have resulted in violence. With ready fists and clubs each side lies in wait for the other to shed blood. In the end, the Hasidim won the battle […] it’s a shame that Orthodox Jews can sink to such atrocities.12

During the campaign Rabbi Yoel’s elder brother, who had succeeded his father as Sighet’s chief rabbi, passed away. Rabbi Yoel decided to abandon the Kroly campaign and to run for office in Sighet. Had he succeeded, he would have continued the Hasidic dynasty that was established in Sighet by his forefathers some 70 years earlier. However, because of overwhelming public objection, Rabbi Yoel’s nomination was rejected and he settled for the position in Kroly.13

The frustration and humiliation generated by his failure in Sighet drove Rabbi Yoel to seek a position of chief rabbi in a town that had a larger Jewish community and was more influential than Sighet. When Satmar’s chief rabbi passed away in 1928, Rabbi Yoel was once again proclaimed by his Hasidim as the town’s next chief rabbi. This reignited the previous controversy, which now involved slander, forgery, deception, and a gamut of verbal and physical abuse. Both Rabbi Yoel’s supporters and his opponents used the Jewish courts and the state’s authorities to achieve their goals, but the issue remained unresolved for several years.

Throughout this campaign Rabbi Yoel demonstrated that there were no red lines he was not prepared to cross in order to achieve his ultimate goal. Despite his political maneuvers, and although it had initially appeared that Rabbi Yoel had a fair chance of gaining the position in Satmar, four years into the campaign, in 1932, this prospect seemed unlikely and Rabbi Yoel began considering other options.

If the abovementioned cases demonstrate that Rabbi Yoel was prepared to abandon either moral or halachic principles, the following cases, depicted in greater detail, demonstrate that he was willing to abandon even those fundamental anti-Zionist and antimodern principles upon which he had built his reputation as a zealot.

Betraying the Family’s Legacy for a Rabbinical Position in Jerusalem

In another part of the Jewish world, an opportunity was unfolding. In 1932 Rabbi Yosef Haim Sonnenfeld (1848-1932), chief rabbi of the haredi community Va’ad Ha-Ir Ha-Ashkenazi (later known as Ha-Edah Ha-Haredit) of Jerusalem, was on his deathbed.15 The community’s political leader, Rabbi Moshe Bloy (1885-1946), traveled abroad to seek a suitable replacement for the charismatic and revered rabbi. After considering several options, he declared Rabbi Yosef Zvi Dushinsky (1867-1948) of Chust (Huszt) to be the most suitable candidate. Later that year Rabbi Dushinsky was summoned to Jerusalem to meet the heads of Va’ad Ha-Ir Ha-Ashkenazi prior to their final decision. During his visit Rabbi Sonnenfeld passed away, and Rabbi Dushinsky was immediately offered the position.17

Rabbi Yoel was very familiar with Rabbi Dushinsky, whose town, Chust, was located nearby Orshiva, where he had served as chief rabbi for 15 years. The fact that the leaders of Va’ad Ha-Ir Ha-Ashkenazi preferred a Hungarian rabbi from the same area as his, and someone he considered he could match and even surpass, drove Rabbi Yoel to action. He immediately decided that he was not going to let this opportunity of becoming chief rabbi of Va’ad Ha-Ir Ha-Ashkenazi in Jerusalem slip through his fingers.

Achieving this goal, however, involved compromising some fundamental principles set both by his forefathers and by other prominent Hungarian rabbis. Although later on in his life Rabbi Yoel had frequently articulated his obligation to maintain the religious heritage of his ancestors, this visit in fact constituted a breach of that tradition. His father, his grandfather, and even their ancestors had always refused to set foot in the Holy Land and had certainly never considered the idea of settling there.

Moreover, the position in Jerusalem entailed not merely the rabbinical seat of Va’ad Ha-Ir Ha-Ashkenazi but also chairing the rabbinical seat of Agudat Israel’s branch in the Holy Land. This meant that not only would he have to turn against the family tradition, he would also breach the highly publicized ban that the Hungarian rabbis had declared on Agudat Israel for actively supporting haredi settlement in Palestine. Moreover, Rabbi Yoel himself was one of the most prominent participants at the rabbinical assembly that gathered in the town of Csap (Čop) in 1922 and issued that ban.

Disregarding these considerations, Rabbi Yoel sought to convince Agudat Israel’s leaders that he was the right person for the job and set out to prove that he was not the zealot everybody conceived him to be. Thus, when a conference deliberating on haredi immigration to Palestine convened in his hometown Sighet, to everybody’s surprise Rabbi Yoel sent the assembly his blessing for the initiative:

As for the initiative of many haredim in this region who gathered and decided to settle in the Holy Land and to make a living there from their fields and vineyards […] from the depths of my heart I bless them that the Lord, blessed be His name, will lead them in righteous ways and that He will allow them to show His greatness and to demonstrate the mercy of God.20

By so doing he signaled to Agudat Israel that he was prepared to adjust his rulings according to need.21

Arriving in Palestine shortly thereafter, Rabbi Yoel made his way through the political corridors of the haredi community in Jerusalem. He had to handle himself with great political care. When he spoke in public or gave interviews to the local press, he struck a relatively moderate tone. For example, when asked how, after banning Agudat Israel in Transylvania, he now sought to become its chief rabbi in Palestine, he replied that what he had said in the past in the Galut – the Diaspora – was irrelevant to the reality of life in the Holy Land, to which other rules applied.22 At the same time, in closed meetings with his supporters, he urged them to establish an independent Orthodox organization unassociated with Agudat Israel.23

To demonstrate his financial acumen he opened a butcher shop.24 Selling imported meat slaughtered out of town (the halachic term: shehutei hutz) posed a halachic issue that occupied many rabbis.25 In the past, when Rabbi Yoel served as chief rabbi in Orshiva, he had fought fiercely against remote communities that sold such imported meat, condemning them as if they were selling treife (impure meat). However, in this case, in order to serve his short-term interests, Rabbi Yoel allowed the sale of imported kosher meat at half the market price. Thus he denied the local slaughterers the wages entitled to them according to his own halachic ruling.

On top of that he introduced yet another novelty. For many decades both Hasidic and non-Hasidic immigrants originating from the same district as Rabbi Yoel’s had prayed together in the same synagogue. Violating yet another long-standing tradition, Rabbi Yoel encouraged the Hasidim to found their own synagogue and even contributed a substantial sum to that end. He hoped that this synagogue would become a nucleus around which he would be able to establish his political power base. These measures impelled the Hasidim into action, and their activists took to the streets of Mea Shearim signing petitions to appoint Rabbi Yoel as chief rabbi of Va’ad Ha-Ir Ha-Ashkenazi.29

Rabbi Yoel’s supporters continued their efforts even after he returned to Romania. At some point they even spread false rumors that Rabbi Dushinsky had relinquished the position and sent Rabbi Yoel a formal letter of appointment, written in gilded letters.30 Despite these many efforts, eventually Rabbi Yoel was not appointed to the position and consequently ceased to support the synagogue and congregation he himself had founded. This episode demonstrates that Rabbi Yoel was even willing to disregard his own halachic rulings in order to gain an important political position.

In 1934 Rabbi Yoel finally secured the position of chief rabbi of Satmar, where he also established his own yeshiva.31 In 1937, after intense behind-the-scenes activity and through a cleverly constructed political maneuver, he was elected to the executive committee of the Orthodox Central Bureau of Transylvania. This position granted him influence not only over the lives of the members of his own community but also over the 150,000 Orthodox Jews in Transylvania.32 These successes meant that 30 years after he was expelled from Sighet, he had now gained the same political positions and public stature as his forefathers.33 Soon after Rabbi Yoel had achieved most, if not all, of his political ambitions, the Holocaust descended upon Europe.

Mimicking Agudat Israel: The Failed Sojourn in Palestine in 1945-1946

As soon as Rabbi Yoel sensed the danger of war in the early 1940s, he attempted to leave Romania for a safer location. He and his followers tried to obtain a British certificate that would allow him to immigrate to Palestine, or a visa to the United States, but failed to do so. Eventually, when his entire community was crammed into the ghetto, he sneaked away in the middle of the night, but he was caught and sent to the ghetto of Cluj. While most of the ghetto inmates were sent to the extermination camps, Rabbi Yoel was offered a place on the train organized by the Zionist activist Israel (Rezső) Kasztner, which he accepted. The train arrived at Bergen-Belsen and some months later ended up in Switzerland.34

Like other rabbis, Rabbi Yoel believed that after the Holocaust secular Zionism was bound to grow stronger and to restrict haredi Jewry, especially after the establishment of the state of Israel, which now seemed inevitable. On the other hand, he deemed life in the United States, or in any of the other communities in the Diaspora, to be unsuitable for haredi Jews. Although Rabbi Yoel may have concluded that Romania was the only place in which the traditional haredi way of life could be revived, he feared to return there and deliberated between emigration to the United States or to Palestine.

In 1945 he eventually decided to emigrate to Palestine, where he intended to rebuild his congregation. After his arrival Rabbi Yoel settled in Jerusalem, close to his daughter and son-in-law who had also survived the Holocaust. This decision, however, drove Rabbi Yoel into political isolation. Naturally he had nothing in common with the religious-Zionist movement Ha-Mizrahi. Although they had actively assisted Rabbi Yoel to escape, Agudat Israel’s leaders did not forget his acute criticism of them and their organization, even during the Holocaust, and would have nothing to do with him. The former Va’ad Ha-Ir Ha-Ashkenazi, now called Ha-Edah Ha-Haredit, was still led by Rabbi Dushinsky, who remembered how, in 1932, Rabbi Yoel had tried to snatch the rabbinical position promised to him. Even Neturei Karta, the most extreme camp of Ha-Edah Ha-Haredit, with whom Rabbi Yoel shared the same anti-Zionist theological worldview, did not welcome him. After all, most of them were Prushim – not Hasidim – and they still remembered how he had tried to unite the Hasidim of Mea Shearim into a powerful political opposition.35

Faced with such public antagonism, Rabbi Yoel was unable to recruit any of the Hasidim already living in Palestine and therefore approached potential followers among the Holocaust survivors who slowly began to arrive in the land. To that end he was prepared to engage in novel initiatives that, from his point of view, had been inconceivable only a few years earlier.

In the past, and even during the Holocaust years, Rabbi Yoel repeatedly declared his objection to the activities of Agudat Israel.36 He justified his position by means of three arguments: (a) this was the stance taken by his ancestors, as well as by many other Hungarian rabbis; (b) Agudat Israel encouraged the organized settlement of haredi Jews in the Holy Land, which was forbidden according to the halacha and represented a breach of the Three Oaths;37 and (c) those haredi settlers did not lead a noble life dedicated to prayer and study of the Torah, but, like the Zionist immigrants, went out to work and supported themselves.38

Shortly after his arrival in Palestine Rabbi Yoel established a hostel for the haredi survivors, making sure they were well fed and dressed. He then founded a small synagogue and yeshiva in which they could pray and study Torah and Talmud under his spiritual guidance. Thus far there was nothing unique about what he did. However, in order to win over his new potential Hasidim, he also established a number of workshops in which his followers would be able to work.39 Thus, not only would they support themselves but the profits from the workshops would cover the expenses of the hostel and yeshiva. This mode of operation was an exact replication of that of Agudat Israel, which he so strongly opposed and condemned as heretical.

Despite his initiatives, Rabbi Yoel was able to attract only a handful of followers. Apparently, many survivors could not overlook his personal misconduct during the Holocaust nor his rescue by the Zionist Kasztner train. Thus most of the survivors shunned his institutions and ignored his anti-Zionist sermons. Furthermore, Rabbi Yoel was not an experienced or talented businessman; his operations soon accumulated tremendous debts and he faced bankruptcy. This forced him to travel to America, a land that he detested. There he hoped to gather sufficient funds to enable him to repay his debts and save his institutions in Jerusalem from total collapse.41

From Devastation to Glory: The Early Years in America

Upon his arrival to the United States, Rabbi Yoel soon found out that his anti-Zionist views were not well received, especially among the more established American Orthodox Jews. Consequently, although he sought to raise funds in various Orthodox congregations for almost two years, he failed miserably.42 However, during that period he also discovered that the very same anti-Zionist views he expressed in his sermons struck a chord with some of the Holocaust survivors. His ultraconservative concepts and anti-Zionist tirades reminded them of those they had heard in their former homes in Eastern Europe, the ones that no longer existed. These survivors assembled around him, encouraging him to establish his own congregation in America. This prompted Rabbi Yoel to decide against returning to Palestine, and in 1948 he settled in Williamsburg, New York. This decision, once again, ran contrary to his decades-long objection to Orthodox Jews’ settlement in America on the grounds of its immoral and decadent society.44

During the 1940s some dozen Hasidic rabbis, who either had fled before the Holocaust or had survived it, were trying to establish their own courts in New York. Most of them were invited to serve as rabbis in existing congregations of Jews originating from the same European town (Landsmanshaften). However, since Rabbi Yoel forbade his Hasidim to immigrate to America, no existing congregation awaited him. This meant that had Rabbi Yoel wished to establish a Hasidic court of his own, not only would he have had to compete with other rabbis but he would also have had to establish a congregation from scratch. In order to succeed in this mission Rabbi Yoel had to overcome two challenges. The first was to create a unique spiritual identity that was not based on mutual geographic origins. The second was to offer his potential followers a path in which, after a long period of suffering, poverty, and loss of family, they would be able to fulfill the “American dream.”

After living in America for two years, during which he encountered many rabbis and other Orthodox political leaders, Rabbi Yoel determined the fundamental principles for his future mode of operation. These principles, conceived in the mind of an outstanding and experienced politician such as Rabbi Yoel, revealed an acute paradox. On the one hand, he presented himself as the only Orthodox leader after the Holocaust who was still committed to the ultraconservative and antimodern Eastern European tradition. On the other hand, and without actually admitting it, he introduced certain “American novelties” that were inconceivable in the very same Eastern European shtetlach. These included, for example, including secular studies in the curriculum of the yeshiva for boys; establishing schools for girls; children spending the yearly vacation in summer camps; encouraging women to go out to work and support their families; and publishing an ultra-Orthodox newspaper.45

Rabbi Yoel’s political cunning and audacity, as he presented himself as an Orthodox extremist dedicated to total conservatism while at the same time introducing significant alterations to the traditional way of life, as well as his vibrant charisma and sense of humor, brought him unparalleled success. A few years after its establishment, his congregation was already considered one of the largest and most prosperous Hasidic courts in post-Holocaust America.46

Part of this success can be attributed to the fact that no other rabbi dared to express such anti-Zionist views. These unique views, which blamed Zionism for the outbreak of the Holocaust and accused the Zionists of collaborating with the Nazis, attracted an ever growing number of Hasidim.47 They presumably found comfort in an Orthodox authority of Rabbi Yoel’s stature who offered them a clear-cut and unequivocal theological explanation of the Holocaust.48 Understanding the political potential of this kind of anti-Zionist ideology, Rabbi Yoel realized that his forthcoming success depended on his ability to further develop and expand it.

The Holy Land or a Place of Evil: The First Visit to the State of Israel

Unable to forget the humiliation he had experienced during his sojourn in Jerusalem just a few years earlier, Rabbi Yoel made a crucial strategic resolution. He decided to assist Ha-Edah Ha-Haredit to confront the financial crisis it experienced as the much-needed donations from Europe dried up following the Holocaust.49 During his first visit to Israel in 1952, he donated substantial funds to a number of haredi institutions that were on the verge of collapse.50 As a sign of gratitude, the leadership of Ha-Edah Ha-Haredit proclaimed him its honorary president. A year later he was already declared supreme judge of Ha-Edah Ha-Haredit’s court (Ga’aba”d) and became its highest spiritual authority.51 Again proving his political wiliness, Rabbi Yoel thus became the most prominent anti-Zionist leader not only in America but in Israel as well.

Although officially recognized as the leader of the anti-Zionist camp in Israel, Rabbi Yoel needed to strengthen his political powerbase by recreating a local Hasidic congregation. For that purpose he resolved to take yet another unprecedented step. Although preaching against the very existence of the Jewish state, he decided, like some other Hasidic rebbes, to establish a neighborhood designated exclusively for his Hasidim. Remembering his bitter failure in Jerusalem, Rabbi Yoel decided to build this neighborhood in Bnei Brak, which at that time still had a very large nonharedi, and even secular, population.

To this end he sent his emissaries to Israel to acquire land and to deal secretly with the municipal and governmental authorities.53 By so doing Rabbi Yoel became the only self-professed anti-Zionist rabbi to build an anti-Zionist neighborhood in a mainly Zionist town on Zionist-owned soil. To do so he had to obtain permits from the Zionist authorities, employ many Zionist professionals and contractors, and seek financial backing from Zionist banks.54 This conflict between anti-Zionist ideology on the one hand and quasi-Zionist practical initiative on the other apparently never bothered either Rabbi Yoel or his faithful followers.

Elections Are the Most Terrible Sin, and Yet…

On his 1955 visit to Israel, Rabbi Yoel supervised the progress of the building of his neighborhood while attempting to establish a similar one in Jerusalem. During these two visits his cooperation with the Israeli authorities drove the zealots, both of Neturei Karta and of his own community, berserk. They accused him, quite rightly, of betraying the very anti-Zionist ideology he himself promoted.55 The conflict between anti-Zionist ideology on the one hand and practical concerns on the other was clearly manifested in the debate over the coming elections.

The most evident difference between the majority of the non-Zionist Israeli haredim and the anti-Zionist minority of Ha-Edah Ha-Haredit was their attitude toward the Israeli political system. Whereas most of the haredim supported the activities of religious parties and their involvement in Israeli political life, members of Ha-Edah Ha-Haredit, led by Neturei Karta, shunned such involvement. Rabbi Yoel claimed that voting for the Israeli Knesset was so grave a sin that a Jew should sacrifice himself rather than commit it. He repeatedly accused the Knesset and its haredi members of betraying Jewish tradition and collaborating with the Zionist Satan:

There is no doubt that the Knesset is a house of heresy, and that besides [the fact] that ninety percent of its members are total heretics and atheists, they convene there to consult how to uproot the Torah. And the mere establishment of this governmental meeting place, with all its laws and regulations, is all about total heresy in the holy Torah. And from this house, and this impure gathering, heresy and apostasy are spreading into the entire universe and especially to the Land of Israel.

Rabbi Yoel’s visit in 1955 was scheduled to take place just a few weeks before the general and municipal elections, so that his protest against them would have the strongest possible impact. This plan, however, went awry as a result of a political conflict between him and the Rabbi of Belz. Whereas during the general elections in 1952 the two haredi parties, Agudat Israel and Poalei Agudat Israel, had run independently, for the upcoming elections they had decided to join forces. Thus, although the Rabbi of Belz was traditionally known for his anti-Zionist stance and was a firm supporter of Ha-Edah Ha-Haredit, he issued a decree calling on his followers to vote for the joint haredi party, referring to this as a “holy duty.”58 Soon after his arrival, Rabbi Yoel confronted the Rabbi of Belz and accused him of betraying the legacy of his ancestors. Members of Neturei Karta who were aware of the conflict between the two prominent Hasidic rabbis quickly published a poster (pashkvil) claiming that Rabbi Yoel forbade participation in both the general and the municipal elections.59

However, in order to promote his new neighborhoods, Rabbi Yoel required the support of the municipal authorities both in Bnei Barak and Jerusalem. For that purpose he needed political influence and thus had no interest in forbidding participation in the municipal elections. He consequently demanded that all posters bearing his false signature be removed and replaced by ones calling for a ban only on the general elections.60

The result was that while Rabbi Yoel accused the Rabbi of Belz of straying from the right path because of his call to take part in the general elections, Neturei Karta blamed Rabbi Yoel in the same manner for allowing participation in the municipal ones.61 In this case Rabbi Yoel was willing to compromise even on a major element of his anti-Zionist ideology, namely, nonparticipation in Israel’s general elections. The absurd distinction he made between voting for the Knesset and voting for the municipalities did not go unnoticed, even among some of his own Hasidim.

Ideology vs. Survival: The Visit in 1959

In 1958 the state of Israel celebrated its first decade of independence. During that period it had become a prosperous, modern, and democratic state. It won the Sinai Campaign and opened its doors to almost one million immigrants, many of whom were Holocaust survivors.62 Although prior to its establishment haredi leaders had feared that the Zionist regime would suppress religious life, time proved them wrong. During that decade many haredi neighborhoods and institutions were built with the support of the Israeli government. At the same time, generous social benefits allowed the haredi population to bear more children and to send a growing number of men to spend many years in yeshiva study. The majority of the haredim shared the patriotic spirit of the new state and most haredi men served in the Israeli army.63

These impressive achievements, which were highlighted during the official celebrations of Israel’s first decade, prompted Rabbi Yoel to act. On top of his usual anti-Zionist sermons he now began openly to accuse Zionism of having been the major cause of the Holocaust. He furthermore declared that whereas the Nazis had sought to exterminate Jews, the Zionists’ undisclosed mission was to annihilate the very spirit of Judaism. While Nazi Germany had lost the war and ended the extermination process, the Zionists had merely grown stronger and continued their efforts.64

This anti-Zionist campaign included a series of mass demonstrations in New York that attracted the attention of both the Israeli and international press.65 During these protests yeshiva students even painted swastikas on the walls of “Zionist” synagogues and of the Israeli consulate in New York. The most impressive demonstration took place in front of the White House in Washington. It attracted the attention of the international press as Jewish haredi protesters waved posters comparing the newly established state of Israel to Nazi Germany.66

The Jewish press, as well as many spokespersons from all Jewish camps, condemned this appalling comparison and called to take action against the provocateurs. The Israeli government’s and public’s fury against Rabbi Yoel was such that the very future of his projects in Israel was in jeopardy.67 This message was conveyed to him in person by Haim Moshe Shapira during his visit to New York in late 1958. Shapira, at the time Israel’s interior minister from the religious-Zionist party, had been instrumental in helping Rabbi Yoel obtain the permits required to build his neighborhood in Bnei Brak.68

In order to assuage the Israeli public’s rage, Rabbi Yoel’s visit to Israel in 1959 took an entirely different path from the previous two. During it he played a delicate game whereby on the one hand he tried to maintain his position as the top anti-Zionist leader, while on the other he signaled that he was now unofficially willing to cooperate with the Israeli authorities. Prior to the visit spokespersons of Ha-Edah Ha-Haredit briefed the Israeli press. They explained that the anti-Zionist demonstrations did not reflect the genuine love Rabbi Yoel felt for all Jews and that he condemned the painting of swastikas by a bunch of rascals.69

Upon his arrival at Haifa port, Rabbi Yoel was greeted by a haredi Knesset member. The Israeli press covered his arrival while the Israeli police force maintained public order. A special train, commissioned from the Israeli train company, carried Rabbi Yoel and hundreds of his Hasidim to Jerusalem. Upon his arrival a second welcoming ceremony took place at the Israeli train station, again secured by the Israeli police, who cooperated with haredi guards appointed by Ha-Edah Ha-Haredit. The police then escorted his car as it drove through the streets of Jerusalem, lined by haredi children holding small paper flags.70

Throughout this entire visit Rabbi Yoel refrained from issuing any anti-Zionist statements, nor did he issue a public ban on participation in the general elections due in a few months’ time. Furthermore, he met with Agudat Israel Knesset members and even with the religious-Zionist minister of religious affairs.71 He also met with various Israeli businessmen and municipal officials in an effort to expand his congregations both in Bnei Brak and Jerusalem. Although on this visit he never interviewed for the Israeli press, his spokespersons conveyed public messages claiming that Rabbi Yoel’s anti-Zionist criticism should be regarded in the context of his love and sympathy for all Jews. This apparent “pro-Zionist” behavior was totally unacceptable to Neturei Karta, which publicly accused him of “straying from the proper path.”72

Anti-Zionism: From Ideas to Ideology

Upon his return to America Rabbi Yoel himself may have realized that he had gone too far and decided to do something he had never done before – to write a book. This book marked the epitome of his anti-Zionist philosophy and soon became one of the most influential religious tracts composed after the Holocaust. It is titled Va-Yoel Moshe (And Yoel Moshe) and since its first publication in 1960 has been reprinted in many further editions. The book is in circulation to this day and continues to influence various haredi groups.

The book is divided into three sections, each dealing with a specific aspect of Rabbi Yoel’s anti-Zionist ideology. The first asserts that the basic principles of Zionism violate the Three Oaths that God swore to the people of Israel and express a disbelief in the power of God to redeem his people. This represents a severe form of heresy that, indirectly, justifies God’s severe punishment, namely the Holocaust.74 The second section claims that, contrary to common belief, there is no halachic obligation to settle in the Land of Israel, at least not for the time being. The third section states that the extensive use of Hebrew as a spoken language is forbidden by the halacha.75

From a scholastic perspective, this book, which focuses on matters of religious worldview (hashkafa), is unique. None of the other rabbis in modern times who were faced with challenges such as emancipation, modernism, religious reforms, a decline in religious observance, secularism, and Zionism had devoted an entire book to presenting their Orthodox worldview. The fact that this was the only book written by an established rabbinical authority that addressed the fundamental principles of Orthodoxy, alongside its radical proclamations, turned it into a popular object of study among academic scholars.

After writing his book Rabbi Yoel lived on for another 20 years, during which he visited Israel once again in 1965. In 1967, following the Six-Day War, he issued another book titled Al Ha-Geula ve-Al Ha-Temurah (On Redemption and Change), in which he continued to develop the ideas expressed in his first book. At the time of his death in 1979 his Hasidic court was probably the largest and richest in America, and he himself was one of the best-known Jewish leaders of the post-Holocaust era.

Conclusion

From an early age Rabbi Yoel was driven by a desire to follow in his father’s footsteps. This was manifested in two ways. The first was his ambition to attain the same political and social roles that his father had held, such as serving as chief rabbi of a sizable community, heading a large yeshiva, leading a Hasidic court, and becoming an influential public figure. The second was his aspiration to perpetuate and disseminate his forefathers’ zealous anti-Zionist and antimodern separatist ideology.77 As this article has demonstrated, these two goals did not always coexist easily.

Many scholars were captivated by Rabbi Yoel’s anti-Zionist and antimodern ideology, defining it as zealous and uncompromising. These scholars did not discern the gap between Rabbi Yoel’s “pure” ideology and his actual deeds, which sometimes ran contrary to it. A recently published comprehensive critical biography enables us to appraise the balance between Rabbi Yoel’s rhetoric and his actual conduct. This compresence, which is the focus of this article, manifests a different picture from that which scholars have imagined thus far. It demonstrates that while Rabbi Yoel was generally regarded as an uncompromising zealot, in practice he frequently sacrificed certain principles for political gain. The question at hand is whether and how this new perception may affect his public image, and whether Rabbi Yoel’s political maneuvers tarnish his image as a zealot.

Although a full discussion of this issue exceeds the scope of this article, the answer may be found in Rabbi Yoel’s own distinction between two types of zealotry. Whereas the first type, which he called “true zealotry,” served to generate a good greater than itself, “false zealotry,” such as the painting of swastikas on walls, served nothing but to display how zealous one was. This distinction can be demonstrated by comparing Rabbi Yoel’s type of zealotry to that of Amram Bloy, the leader of Neturei Karta in Jerusalem. Although he shared Rabbi Yoel’s anti-Zionist and antimodern ideology, Rabbi Amram fiercely rejected the notion of compromise or moderation of his standpoint, even if this could gain him political benefits and greater public influence.79

Both he and Rabbi Yoel gained their reputation mainly after the Holocaust and the establishment of the state of Israel, and were active in the same ideological circles. Yet whereas Rabbi Amram’s influence remained limited to a small circle of no more than a few hundred followers, Rabbi Yoel was admired and revered by tens of thousands. This, perhaps, is what Rabbi Yoel referred to when he spoke of false and true zealotry and their consequences. Whereas Rabbi Yoel’s “true,” or perhaps more accurately termed “rational zealotry” sought long-term and far-reaching influence, even at the price of compromising certain principles in the short term, Rabbi Amram’s “false,” or “uncompromising zealotry” eschewed any benefit that would force it to relent, however slightly, in its principles. In retrospect, Rabbi Yoel’s immense success can be attributed to his “rational zealotry,” namely his ability to present himself as an uncompromising zealot yet at the same time act in a rational manner and weigh long-term political considerations.

This theoretical distinction between “uncompromising zealotry” and “rational zealotry” can be applied to other cases of religious fundamentalism.80 In Jewish and Israeli studies, for example, one may discern two fundamental ideologies that seek to annex Judea and Samaria to Israel and to preempt the establishment of an independent Palestinian state. The first promotes this policy by participating in the political debate within Israel’s parliament, playing by the rules, and by yielding on occasion to resolutions that run contrary to its positions. The other approach is employed by a small, radical group of youngsters, the “hilltop youth,” who illegally settle on land that does not belong to them. Although both groups passionately believe they have the godly right to settle in teritories whose political fate is yet to be determined, they seek to realize their beliefs in different ways. The same type of distinction can be applied to many other fundamentalist groups worldwide.

Menachem Keren-Kratz completed a PhD in Yiddish literature (summa cum laude, Bar-Ilan University, Israel) in 2009, and in 2013 he received an additional PhD in Jewish history (Tel Aviv University, Israel). His recently published book is Maramaros-Sziget: Extreme Orthodoxy and Secular Jewish Culture at the Foothills of the Carpathian Mountains (Jerusalem: Dov Sadan Publishing Project of the Hebrew University, 2013, in Hebrew). His forthcoming book Rabbi Yoel Teitelbaum – The Satmar Rebbe: The Pious, the Zealot and the Politician will shortly be published by the Zalman Shazar Center of Jerusalem. Keren-Kratz has had some 30 articles accepted by academic and semi-academic publications, most of them peer-reviewed journals, including: Dapim: Studies on the Holocaust, Identities, Cathedra, Kesher, Moreshet Israel, Modern Judaism, Contemporary Jewry, Israel Studies Review, Journal of Modern Jewish Studies, and Tradition.

* * *

Notes

1 Israel Rubin, Satmar: An Island in the City (Chicago: Quadrangle Books, 1972); Allan L. Nadler, “Piety and Politics: The Case of the Satmar Rebbe,” Judaism 31, 2 (1982): 135-52; Israel Rubin, Satmar: Two Generations of an Urban Island (New York: Peter Lang, 1997); Yitzhak Kraus, “Yahadut Ve-Tzionut: Shena’im She-Lo Yelkhu Yahdav: Mishnato Ha-Radikalit Shel Rabbi Yoel Teitelbaom – Harabi Mi-Satmar,” Ha-Tzionut 22 (2000): 37-60 (Hebrew); David Sorotzkin, “Binyan Erets Shel Mata Ve-Hurban Erets Shel Ma’ala: Ha-Rabi Mi-Satmar Ve-Ha-Askola Ha-Ortodoxit Ha-Radikalit,” in Aviezer Ravitzky, ed., Erets Yisrael Ba-Hagut Ha-Yehudit Ba-Meah Ha-Esrim (Jerusalem: Yad Ben Zvi, 2004), 133-67 (Hebrew); Zvi J. Kaplan, “Rabbi Joel Teitelbaum, Zionism, and Hungarian Ultra-Orthodoxy,” Modern Judaism 24, 2 (2004): 165-78; Hanoch Ben-Pazi, “Al Ha-Anti Universaliut Shel Ha-Ra’ayon Ha-Tzioni: Nekudat Ha-Mabat Ha-Satmarit Shel Ha-Rav Yoel Teitelbaum,” Ha-Hinukh U-Sevivato 29 (2007): 291-304 (Hebrew); Refael Kadosh, “Extremist Religious Philosophy: The Radical Doctrines of the Satmar Rebbe,” PhD diss., University of Cape Town, 2010; David N. Myers, “‘Command War’: Three Chapters in the ‘Military’ History of Satmar Hasidim,” Journal of the American Academy of Religion 81, 2 (2013): 311-56; Eliyahu Gurfinkel, “Netzh Israel La-Maharal Mi-Prag Utefisat Ha-Geula Shel RY”T Mi-Satmar,” Da’at 78 (2015): 77-91 (Hebrew); Motti Inbari, “The Life and Work of Rabbi Yoel Teitelbaum, Founder of the Satmar Hasidic Court in New York,” in idem, Jewish Radical Ultra-Orthodoxy Confronts Modernity, Zionism and Women’s Equality (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2016), 131-72; David N. Myers, “The Rise of a Sovereign Shtetl: Communitarianism from the Bottom Up in Kiryas Joel, N. Y.,” Jewish Studies Quarterly 23, 3 (2016): 222-46; Gershon Greenberd and Assaf Yedidyah, Mishpatekha Tehom Raba: Teguvot Hagutiot Ortodoxiot La-Shoah (Jerusalem: Mosad Ha-Rav Kook, 2016), 335-43 (Hebrew); David Sorotzkin, “‘Geula Shel Hoshekh Ve-Afela’: Rabi Yoel Teitelbaum – Harabi Mi-Satmar,” in Benjamin Brown and Nissim Leon, eds., The Gdoilim: Leaders Who Shaped the Israeli Haredi Jewry (Jerusalem: Van Leer Institute and Magnes Press, 2017), 371-401 (Hebrew). Additional items will be cited in the following.

2 The first time many of them received academic attention was in a recently published volume: Brown and Leon, The Gdoilim. Many others are still waiting their turn.

3 In recent decades many works have dealt with religious fundamentalism, e.g.: Martin E. Marty and Scott R. Appleby, eds., The Fundamentalism Project, vols. 1-5 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1991-1995); Scott R. Appleby, Gabriel Abraham Almond, and Emmanuel Sivan, eds., Strong Religion (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2003). On Jewish fundamentalism, see, e.g., Laurence J. Silberstein, ed., Jewish Fundamentalism in Comparative Perspective:‎ Religion, Ideology, and the Crisis of Modernity (New York: New York University Press,‎ 1993).

4 Bruce B. Lawrence, Defenders of God: The Fundamentalist Revolt against the Modern Age (San Francisco:‎ Harper & Row,‎1989), 95. See also Appleby, Almond, and Sivan, Strong Religion, 99; Peter Herriot, Religious Fundamentalism: Global, Local and Personal (London and New York: Routledge, 2009), 2.

5 Menachem Keren-Kratz, “Hast Thou Escaped and Also Taken Possession? The Responses of the Satmar Rebbe – Rabbi Yoel Teitelbaum – and His Followers to Criticism of His Conduct during and after the Holocaust,” Dapim: Studies on the Shoah 28, 2 (2014): 97-120.

6 Menachem Keren-Kratz, “Rabbi Yoel Teitelbaum – The Satmar Rebbe (1887-1979): Biography,” PhD diss., Tel Aviv University, 2013, 48-52 (Hebrew).

7 Ibid., 57-63.

8 Ibid., 70-71.

9 David Glasner, “Rabbi Moshe Shmuel Glasner: The Dor Revi’i,” Tradition 32, 1 (1998): 40-56.

10 Moshe Saher, Ha-Ir Kloizenburg Ve-Kehiloteyha (New York, 2012) (Hebrew); Benjamin Brown, “ʽKe-Haravot Le-Guf Ha-Adama’: Hitnagdutam Shel Rabanei Mizrah Eropa Le-Ra’ayon Ha-Kehilot Ha-Nifradot,” in Yossi Goldstein, ed., Yosef Da’at: Studies in Modern Jewish History in Honor of Yosef Salmon (Beersheba: Ben-Gurion University Press, 2010), 215-44 (Hebrew).

11 Menachem Keren-Kratz, Maramaros-Sziget: Extreme Orthodoxy and Secular Jewish Culture at the Foothills of the Carpathian Mountains (Jerusalem: Dov Sadan Publishing Project of the Hebrew University, 2013), 76-80 (Hebrew).

12 Otzar Ha-Haim, Taf-Resh-Peh-He (1925), 12 (Hebrew).

13 Keren-Kratz, Rabbi Yoel, 88-91.

14 See, e.g., the debate regarding Rabbi Yoel’s nomination: Kuntres Shemo’a Bein Aheikhem, Satmar, 1929 (Hebrew); Sefer Sefat Emet, Satmar, 1929 (Hebrew); Sefer Milhemet Mitzva Ha-Hadash, Satmar, 1929 (Hebrew); Aharit Davar: Bidevar Ha-Sha’aruriya, Satmar, 1932 (Hebrew).

15 Menachem Keren-Kratz, “Ha-Edah Ha-Haredit of Jerusalem in the First 25 Years after the Establishment of the State of Israel,” Cathedra 161 (2016): 139-74 (Hebrew).

16 Menachem Parush, Sharsheret Ha-Dorot Ba-Tekufot Ha-Soarot, vol. 4 (Jerusalem, 2001), 78 (Hebrew); Menachem Gerlitz, Mara De-Ara’a Israel, vol. 3 (Jerusalem, 1980), 57-64.

17 Menachem Friedman, Society and Religion: The Non-Zionist Orthodox in Eretz Israel 1918-1936 (Jerusalem: Yad Ben Zvi, 1977), 345-46 (Hebrew); Menachem Keren-Kratz, “‘Guarding the Guardians’: Rabbi Yosef Zvi (Maharitz) Dushinsky,” in Brown and Leon, The Gdoilim, 337-67 (Hebrew).

18 See, e.g., the report of Rabbi Akiva Yosef Shlesinger on Rabbi Yekuthiel Yehuda Teitelbaum, Rabbi Yoel’s great-grandfather, who forcefully tried to stop him from emigrating to the Land of Israel: Hilel Mordechay Eliezer Shlesinger, Sefer Torat Yehiel (Jerusalem, 1971), 21 (Hebrew).

19 Polemical sideboard, JTS archives, ARC 1974-01 box 5/03 (29), GV”A Ve-Parti-Kol Me-Asefat Ha-Rabanim, Cop, 1922; Yaacov Rosenheim, Zikhronot (Bnei Brak: Netzah, 1957), 175-80 (Hebrew).

20 Yiddishe Prese (Sighet), July 16, 1932, 2.

21 Keren-Kratz, Rabbi Yoel, 125-27; idem, “Bnei Marmoresh Olim Ba-Homa: Aliyatam Shel Yehudei Marmoresh Le-Eretz Israel Lifnei Ha-Shoah,” Et-Mol 235 (2014): 19-22 (Hebrew).

22 Hazit Ha-Am, September 13, 1932, 3; Yiddish Shtime, October 7, 1932, 2.

23 Davar, September 16, 1932, 5; Doar Ha-Yom, September 19, 1932, 3.

24 Nepunk, January 6, 1933, 1-2.

25 The selling of imported meat meant, first, that it was not supervised by the local rabbi and, second, that no slaughtering tax was paid. That signified an offense to the community’s rabbi and also harmed the community’s income that relied on these taxes.

26 Yoel Teitelbaum, Divrei Yoel: Letters, vol. 2 (Jerusalem, 1981), 7-8; Shlomo Ya’akov Gelbman, Sefer Moshian Shel Israel, vol. 4 (Monroe, NY, 1995), 260-65 (Hebrew).

27 Berish Weinberger, ed., Sefer Igrot Shapirin (Brooklyn, 1983), 247-48, n. 1 (Hebrew).

28 Gelbman, Sefer Moshian, vol. 5, 1997, 414; Yosef Leib Yakov, Derekh Ha-Melekh, vol. 1 (Jerusalem, 2007), 204-06.

29 Yakov, Derekh Ha-Melekh, vol. 1, 131, 138; Gelbman, Sefer Moshian, vol. 5, 467.

30 Haaretz, November 14, 1932, 4; Doar Ha-Yom, November 9, 1932, 4; ibid., November 14, 1932, 4; Davar, November 15, 1932, 4.

31 Keren-Kratz, Rabbi Yoel, 140-42.

32 Menachem Keren-Kratz, “The Politics of a Religious Enclave: Orthodox Jews in Interwar Transylvania, Romania,” Modern Judaism 37, 3 (2017): 363-91.

33 Keren-Kratz, Rabbi Yoel, 159-64.

34 On the Holocaust period, see Keren-Kratz, “Hast Thou Escaped.”

35 Keren-Kratz, Rabbi Yoel, 229-34.

36 Ibid.,169-73.

37 Aviezer Ravitzky, “The Impact of the Three Oaths in Jewish History,” in idem, Messianism, Zionism, and Jewish Religious Radicalism (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996), 211-34.

38 Nadler, “Piety and Politics,” 135-52; Kaplan, “Rabbi Joel Teitelbaum,” 165-78.

39 Keren-Kratz, Rabbi Yoel, 228-29; Kol Israel, February 21, 1946, 1; ibid., September 17, 1946, 4; Gelbman, Sefer Moshian, vol. 9, 527-33, 542-55; Yakov, Derekh Ha-Melekh, vol. 1, 276-96.

40 Yoel Teitalbaum, Hidushei Torah U-Derashot (Brooklyn, 1977), 222-26 (Hebrew).

41 Keren-Kratz, Rabbi Yoel, 234-37.

42 Gelbman, Sefer Moshian, vol. 5, 146.

43 Keren-Kratz, Rabbi Yoel, 256-59; Alexander Sender Deitch, Butsina Kadisha, vol. 2 (Brooklyn, 2000), 61.

44 Arthur Hertzberg, “‘Treifene Medina’: Learned Opposition to Emigration to the U.S.,” World Congress of Jewish Studies, 8, Panel Sessions: Jewish History (1981): 1-30.

45 Hertz Frankel, The Satmar Rebbe and His English Principal: Reflections on the Struggle to Build Yiddishkeit in America (Brooklyn: Menucha, 2015); Keren-Kratz, Rabbi Yoel, 263-70, 302-6.

46 Rubin, Satmar: An Island in the City, 3-8.

47 Menachem Keren-Kratz, “Rabbi Yoel Teitelbaum—the Satmar Rebbe—and the Rise of Anti-Zionism in American Orthodoxy,” Contemporary Jewry 37, 3 (2017): 457-79; idem, “Hast Thou Escaped,” 118-20.

48 Gershon Greenberg, “Wartime American Orthodoxy and the Holocaust: Mizrahi and Agudat Israel Religious Responses,” Michael 15 (2000): 59-94.

49 Davar, May 16, 1947, 20; ibid., November 5, 1948, 5; Ha-Tzofe, November 7, 1948, 4; Herut, May 15, 1950, 4; ibid., November 28, 1951, 2.

50 Davar, July 31, 1952, 2; ibid., August 1, 1952, 10; Um Ani Homa, Elul 25, Taf-Shin-Yud-Bet (1952), 176-77.

51 Keren-Kratz, Rabbi Yoel, 273-76; Um Ani Homa, Av 4, Taf-Shin Yud-Gimel (1953), 101.

52 Ben Zion Yakobovitz, Zekhor Yemot Olam, vol. 4 (Bnei Brak, 1998), 275-478 (Hebrew); Keren-Kratz, Rabbi Yoel, 279-80; Um Ani Homa, Kislev 2, Taf-Shin Yud-Gimel (1953), 245. In the municipal elections during the early 1950s the haredi parties won less than one-third of the votes.

53 Der Yid, January 3, 1958, 1-2; ibid., March 21, 1958, 3.

54 See the unnumbered appendix of Yakobovitz, Zekhor Yemot Olam, for numerous documents pertaining to this matter.

55 On Neturei Karta and their attitude toward Israel, see Kimmy Caplan, Amram Blau: The World of Neturei Karta’s Leader (Jerusalem: Yad Ben Zvi, 2017) (Hebrew); Menachem Keren-Kratz, “Walls of Separation: Neturei Karta’s Magazines 1944-1958,” Kesher 50 (2017): 71-88.

56 Yoel Teitelbaum, Kuntres Gehalei Esh (Jerusalem: Shomrei Mishmeret Ha-Kodesh, 1984); Teitelbaum, Letters, vol. 1, 103-4; Um Ani Homa, Elul 4, Taf-Shin-Tet (1949), 151; ibid., Iyar 1, Taf-Shin-Yud (1950), 27; ibid., Tamuz 15, Taf-Shin-Yud-Alef (1951), 82.

57 Yoel Teitelbaum, Va-Yoel Moshe (New York: Jerusalem, 2003), 116.

58 Ha-Modia, July 1, 1955, 1; ibid., July 8, 1955, 5; Yediot Aharonot, July 21, 1955, 3.

59 Yakobovitz, Zekhor, vol. 4, 138-39; Yediot Aharonot, July 5, 1955, 2-3; ibid., July 20, 1955, 4; Ha-Tzofe, July 25, 1955, 4.

60 Ha-Tzofe, July 7, 1955, 4; ibid., July 20, 1955, 4; Davar, July 7, 1955, 2.

61 Kuntres Emet Me-Eretz Israel, Bnei Brak, 1955 (Hebrew); Yediot Aharonot, July 5, 1955, 2-3; ibid., July 25, 1955, 4.

62 E.g., S. Ilan Troen and Noah Lucas, eds., Israel: The First Decade of Independence (Albany:‎ State University of New York Press,‎ 1995).

63 Menachem Friedman, The Haredi (Ultra-Orthodox) Society: Sources, Trends and Processes, Research Series, no. 41 (Jerusalem: Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies, 1991) (Hebrew).

64 Mishmeret Homatenu, Av 5, Taf-Shin-Yud-Het (1958), 289-93; Deitch, Butsina, vol. 1, 310-12.

65 Der Yid, March 21, 1958, 1, 4; Der Tog/Morgen Journal, March 24, 1958, 1; Mishmeret Homatenu, Iyar 4, Taf-Shin-Yud-Het (1958), 177, 180; New York Times, March 24, 1958.

66 Davar, June 18, 1958, 2; Der Tog/Morgen Journal, June 20, 1958, 1; New York Times, June 20, 1958; Forverts, June 20, 1958, 1; Maariv, June 22, 1958, 3; Menachem Keren-Kratz, “Mei Meriva Be-Ir Ha-Kodesh,” Et-Mol 245 (2016): 28-31 (Hebrew).

67 Davar, April 28, 1958, 1; Maariv, May 18, 1958, 3; ibid., June 30, 1958, 6; Forverts, June 23, 1958, 1, 7; ibid., June 24, 1958, 1.

68 Deitch, Butsina, vol. 1, 348-50.

69 Haaretz, July 10, 1959, 9; Ha-Tzofe, July 12, 1959, 2.

70 Maariv, July 13, 1959, 4; ibid., July 17, 1959, 5; Haaretz, July 13, 1959, 6; Ha-Tzofe, July 14, 1959, 4; Der Tog/Morgen Journal, July 14, 1959, 8.

71 Ha-Modia, July 27, 1959, 1; Yediot Aharonot, July 24, 1959, 2; Maariv, August 8, 1959, 1; She’arim, August 9, 1959, 1.

72 Yediot Aharonot, July 24, 1959, 2; Der Tog/Morgen Journal, August 4, 1959, 3, 5.

73 Yoel Teitelbaum, Va-Yoel Moshe (Brooklyn, 1959).

74 Yitzhak Kraus, “Shalosh Ha-Shevu’ot Ke-Yesod Mishnato Ha-Anti-Tzionit Shel Rabbi Yoel Teitelbaum, Ha-Admor Mi-Satmar,” MA thesis, Baltimore Hebrew University, 1990.

75 A. Fun Volozhin, “Al Hitnagdut Hasidei Satmar, U-Be’ikar Rabi Yoel Tetelbaum, La-Shimush Ba-Safa Ha-Ivrit,” in Adi Ofir, ed., Hamishim Le-Arba’im U-Shemone: Momentim Bikorti’im Be-Korot Medinat Israel (Jerusalem: Van Leer, 1999), 523-33 (Hebrew); Oded Shechter, “‘Leshonam Ha-Tame She-Kra’uhu Ivrit’: Bein Leshon Ha-Kodesh Ve-Ha-Aramit – Le-Gene’ologia Shel Ha-Ivrit,” Mita’am 2 (2005): 123-38 (Hebrew).

76 Yoel Teitelbaum, Al Ha-Geula ve-Al Ha-Temurah (New York: Jerusalem, 1967) (Hebrew).

77 Menachem Keren-Kratz, “Marmaros, Hungary – the Cradle of Extreme Orthodoxy,” Modern Judaism 35, 2 (2015): 147–74.

78 Yoel Teitelbaum, Divrei Yoel Al Ha-Torah, vol. 2, 538, vol. 8, 272 (Jerusalem, 1972, 1981) (Hebrew).

79 Caplan, Amram Blau.

80 On the classification of fundamentalist groups, see Appleby, Almond, and Sivan, Strong Religion, 244-54.

Dr. Menachem Keren-Kratz

Dr. Menachem Keren-Kratz completed a PhD in Yiddish literature (summa cum laude, Bar-Ilan University, Israel) in 2009, and in 2013 he received an additional PhD in Jewish history (Tel Aviv University, Israel). His recently published book is Maramaros-Sziget: Extreme Orthodoxy and Secular Jewish Culture at the Foothills of the Carpathian Mountains (Jerusalem: Dov Sadan Publishing Project of the Hebrew University, 2013, in Hebrew). His forthcoming book Rabbi Yoel Teitelbaum – The Satmar Rebbe: The Pious, the Zealot and the Politician will shortly be published by the Zalman Shazar Center of Jerusalem. Keren-Kratz has had some 30 articles accepted by academic and semi-academic publications, most of them peer-reviewed journals, including: Dapim: Studies on the Holocaust, Identities, Cathedra, Kesher, Moreshet Israel, Modern Judaism, Contemporary Jewry, Israel Studies Review, Journal of Modern Jewish Studies, and Tradition.