Jewish sects in Rockland have differing origins

The Journal News, New York/October 10, 2013

By Peter Kramer

The figures involved in Wednesday’s arrests are considered ultra-Orthodox followers of Judaism and are not Hasidic. Ultra-Orthodox Jews are a prominent community in Rockland, where they live alongside members of several Hasidic sects. New York is home to several sects:

Chabad Lubavitch: This worldwide movement, based in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, focuses on educational outreach and inspiring Jews to perform mitvos as a way to establish a connection with God. The name Lubavitch refers to a town in Lithuania, where the movement was based during the 19th century. The Lubavitch moved to the U.S. from Russia in 1940, seeking to become a force in American Judaism.

Satmars: Originally from what is now Hungary, the Satmars are currently based in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. They believe that the state of Israel should not exist until it can be established by the messiah. The Satmars believe in strict separation from the outside culture and are perhaps the most isolated Hasidic sect. Satmars established the Kiryas Joel community in Orange County.

Bobover: Named after the Polish village in which the sect originated, the Bobovers were nearly exterminated during the Holocaust. After World War II, they moved to Crown Heights. But during the late 1960s, they resettled in Boro Park, Brooklyn. The late Grand Rabbi Schlomo Halberstam, who led the Bobover sect for more than 55 years, built his community to include more than 100,000 in Brooklyn, Miami, Montreal and several other cities.

Skver: A sect that started in Chernobyl and moved to Skver, Ukraine. The sect later moved to Brooklyn and then to Ramapo, where its name was Anglicized to become New Square. The current spiritual leader, Grand Rebbe David Twersky, is the sixth-generation leader of the Skvers.

Viznitz: A sect that originated in Viznitsia, Ukraine, a rural village in the Carpathian mountains. The sect fled to Brooklyn around World War II. Grand Rebbe Mordechai Hager leads them in Kaser, a village in the middle of Monsey.

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