Zalman Teitelbaum bigraphy, stories - American rabbi

Zalman Teitelbaum : biography

1952 -

Rabbi Zalman Leib (Yekusiel Yehuda) Teitelbaum (born 1952) is one of two Grand Rebbes of Satmar, and the third son of Grand Rabbi Moshe Teitelbaum, the late Rebbe of the Satmar Hasidim. He is the son-in-law of the previous Bistritzer Rebbe of Brooklyn. He is a rabbi in one of the Satmar congregations in Williamsburg and the Dean of a Satmar Yeshiva in Queens.

Prior to taking up his position in Williamsburg, Rabbi Teitelbaum was the rabbi of the Satmar Hasidim in Jerusalem. Before that, he was the rabbi of the Sighet Synagogue in Boro Park, which had once been his father's synagogue. Presently, both of those synagogues are led by sons of Rabbi Zalman Teitelbaum. He is currently in control of the central Satmar synagogue in Williamsburg at 152 Rodney Street. Additionally, he controls approximately ten smaller synagogues, as well as a boys' school and girls' schools that teach over 8,400 children plus a high school of about 750 students, the charitable funds and several large organizations.

In 2007, Newsweek named him the 15th most prominent rabbi.

Satmar succession feud

In 1999, a major turn of events transpired in Satmar with respect to the future succession of the late Rebbe, Grand Rabbi Moshe Teitelbaum. The - until then unthinkable - idea of splitting up the dynasty into two separate sects, started to circulate and gain momentum.

Up to 1999, the wide perception within the community was that after the death of Rabbi Moshe, Satmar would remain one united sect under one rebbe, presumably Rabbi Aaron Teitelbaum, since he is the eldest son and a prominent Talmudic scholar, and being the leader of Kiryas Joel, he held the highest post in Satmar, besides his father. There was no real talk about any other candidate besides Aaron.

On about May 1999, it was announced that Rabbi Moshe decided to change course completely and place his third son, Rabbi Zalman Teitelbaum, as the local leader of the Williamsburg congregation, a new position that never existed.

The then leaders of Satmar, which mainly supported Aaron, and always fought for the unity, pride and power of Satmar, were devastated and in shock. They have always been the most loyal and closest allies of Rabbi Moshe, and believed that is not the real true wish of the Rebbe. Rabbi Aaron's supporters in Williamsburg were stripped of their positions. The supporters of Aaron scrambled to reverse it; initially they attempted for about a year to settle it at a Beth Din, but disagreements as to which Jewish tribunal is qualified to judge this case, stalled it. Then secular court litigation ensued, with little to no success.

The Satmar split, drastically and permanently changed the dynamics of the Satmar dynasty. Instead of being a united global entity, headquartered in Williamsburg led by one Grand Rabbi; it is now split into two independent sects. One led by Rabbi Zalman who is based in Williamsburg. The other by Rabbi Aaron who is now in charge of the main Satmar congregation in Kiryas Joel, Monroe, where his supporters regularly win the local government elections, and Borough Park, Brooklyn, a Hasidic neighborhood 8 miles from Williamsburg.

Comparisons to earlier conflicts

The conflict between Rabbis Aaron and Zalman Teitelbaum is in some ways comparable to the longstanding disagreement between the two rebbes of Vizhnitz, as well as Toldos Aharon. The conflict is becoming increasingly similar to the ongoing dispute in the Bobov community.


Teitelbaum has referred to the State of Israel as "this generation's Amalek" and said that "the Zionists came from the seed of Amalek. There has never been such a sect that caused so much damage to the Jewish people." He opposes the proposed draft of Haredi men by the Israel Defence Forces and has encouraged resistance against the draft decree: "We must fight it uncompromisingly so that such ideas won't even cross their minds."

Living octopus

Living octopus

In countries which are located near sea coasts, sea food is an important part of national cuisine