Monday, May 25, 2009
Panim el Panim, January, 1961
On this, Memorial day in these United States, let us remember the battles that were fought here on the shores of America, between two unlikely groups of soldiers or fighters - The Satmar and Kluj, aka Klausenberg sects, using nothing but stick, stones, graffiti, and an occasional firebomb. What? you didn't know that there were battles fought in the hard-nose streets of Brooklyn in the 50's and 60's? And they involved frum Jews fighting amongst themselves? There's nothing very novel about these altercations, they're quite traditional, actually. Some people would say that it's mandatory; if you have no history of fighting then your group hasn't been initiated into the Chassidic fraternity. When you confront them about the violent history then don't apologize; they're proud of their heritage. After all, it's a rite of passage, no need to feel sorry for it. Damage of property, Mesirah, damage of persons, all that doesn't matter, it's the tradition that does. He/they had it coming.
Why then is this any different than any of the other incidents? It's simple. This was taken to another low. They basically followed the Klausenberger Rov to Yerushalayim and harassed the man who lost a wife and 11 kids to the Nazis just a bit more. In case he still hadn't had enough on this world. Yes, there were plenty of Satmarer and Kanoyim there before he came to spend Shabbos there, but this wasn't Williamsburg, they couldn't claim this as Satmar territory. This, I believe, was unprecedented. The Satmar Rov had left Yerushalayim 15 years before and the whole landscape of the city had changed. Despite carrying the title as Nosi of the Edah he was obviously not physically in charge there. The Edah HaCharedis could no longer claim to be the sole authority, since so many other groups - like Ger, Belz and others - didn't belong there anymore. Why then was a local argument based in Brooklyn transplanted 6000 miles away? The fact that it made it into the papers only worsened things.
Why am I writing about this now? I wish I knew.
UPDATE: The Satmar Rov was the Klausenberger's uncle in the latter's first marriage. He was a son in law of the Atzei Chaim of Sighet - Rav Chaim Tzvi Teitelbaum - who passed away in 1926, and who's son's coronation as Rav of Sighet - as a teenager, was chronicled in the newspapers of his day and In this here blog as well. Schon in שוחרי השם בהרי הקרפטים says that after the AC's passing some wanted to take his younger brother - Reb Yoel Teitelbaum - as interim Rov, until the young Zalmen Leib - oldest son of the AC - could come of age, but his mother wouldn't have it. She would not allow her BIL near the town! The Rebbetzin was the daughter of Reb Shulem Lazer'l of Ratzfert, son of the Divrei Chaim of Sanz. I guess she knew that no Rov would ever walk away from such a Choshuve Rabbonus shtelle, even her BIL. So, maybe the animosity had something to do with events 35 years before....
Water under the bridge...