Thursday, November 18, 2010

The saga of an American Rebbe (part I)


Reb Yakov Yisroel Korf of Zvhil-Mezhibuzh (Boston)

You may have seen the name Zvill-Boston mentioned here and there, or you may have come across the name Grand Rabbi Korff of Boston, but you may not know the whole history, and the pain and suffering that the House of Korff had to endure, both physically and more so, spiritually. The man you see pictured above is standing with his Eyniklach, his daughter's children, at a family simcheh in Boston. It's not clear if the boy wore a Yarmulke at other times, or if it was only for the wedding he was attending at the time - his mother's younger sister as I recall. You could well imagine what a simple Chassidisher Yid would feel like if he had to pose with grand kids who looked so different from what was his ideal. How much more so if the Yid is someone a bit Mooram Me'om, and how much more a Chassidisher Rebbe who clung steadfastly to his traditions even in the Treyfene Medineh. What makes the Zviller Rebbe's story unique is the fact that his grandson, Paul Gass, has chronicled the story of his family's arrival - and you might say assimilation into - America. When it comes to the Chassidishe/Rebbishe side of his family his knowledge is somewhat lacking, but that can be filled in by others who know more.



Reb Yakov Yisroel was a great-great-great-grandson of Reb Michel Zlotchover, zy"a. According to the Zvhiller website he was the son of Reb Yechiel Mechel (a brother of the more famous Reb Shlom'ke Zvhiller) who was a great-great-grandson of the Zlotshiver Maggid. There's of course alot more Yichus, like Karlin, Mezhibuz, Chernobel and more and more and more. The chart below, courtesy of that website, will tell you more.





The Rebbetzin - relative and descendant of Zhlotshev as well- was killed during a pogrom in the 1919 in Zvhill, and the Zvhiller Rebbe then married her younger sister, pictured here. Soon after the pogrom he fled to America and settled in Boston, his family following him there a few years later. He had four children with his first wife and five more with his second wife. From the recordings of his daughter Adele (Udel, after the Baal Shem's daughter) We find that as much as things changed here in America they very much stayed the same. Udel was supposed to be there to wait on her father, bring him "Tay," and I guess wash his clothes, but this was Boston, not Zvhill. In Boston there were movie theaters and you could buy cigarettes and hang out with boys. Oh yes, they came and told her father about it, and they told her how it doesn't "Pahs" for a Rebbe's daughter, but all it did was made her resent who she was and basically resent Yiddishkeit. but when does that ever help? So while she may have brought him his Tay after he had davened and learned for hours, she also may have brought him lots of agmas nefesh...


The Rebbe with two of his sons. Baruch and Shmuel. (they each deserve posts of their own.)

The story of Reb Yakov Yisroel Korf of Zvil-Mezhibuzh/Boston.

50 comments:

m said...

Ok
So here we have a normal post for once.
Bring more pics, please

Anonymous said...

You get such good picturs. You have a poetice and artistic soul that should be put to good use. I don't know how old you are, but there is still hope. have a nice life

Hirshel Tzig - הירשל ציג said...

I have a wife and kids to provide for.
and a mortgage to pay. That usually doesn't go together with being artistic.

But I thank you for the compliments!

m said...

Amazing that he apparently learned in Litvishe Yeshivos

m said...

I love yesteryear pics
Want more

Hirshel Tzig - הירשל ציג said...

M

who do you say learned in Litvishe Yeshivos?

Anonymous said...

Anything to say about the current rebbe in boston who was married to sumner redstone, ceo of viacom.
who was his father, how not frum was he, who made him frum, how did he take the rabbisteve וכו'.

Anonymous said...

a lot of open ends
1)the name Yakov Yisroel, looks like a Cherkaser name, was he related?
2) from the article you see that their was some fighting about the rabonas in Zvil, A)were the Zvihlers Rebbes and Rabonim too? the Ukrainer Rebbe were usually rabonim only? b)where is Reb Shlomke Zvihler of Yerushalem in the picture?

Anonymous said...

Summer Redstone daughter? you mean?

Anonymous said...

he was married to the daughter of sumner redstone.

Hirshel Tzig - הירשל ציג said...

the current Zvhiller in Boston is apparently a Baal Tshuveh

he's now married to the daughter of the Shomrei Emunim Rebbe. Yea, I know. You're shocked too.

m said...

Hirshel,
The topic is addressed in the bio page


"As a child [Korff] won local fame as an iluy, a child prodigy in the field of rabbinics, and at the age of seven he won commendation when he delivered an intricate Talmudic discourse. When he was eleven years old he was enrolled in a yeshiva and from there he was sent to various rabbinic seminaries in Lithuania.[1] The three years before his ordination were spent at the yeshiva at Navorodok and when he was ordained he received the s'micha [rabbinical ordination] from some of the leading rabbinic personalities of the century. They included Rabbi Yechiel Michal Epstein, compiler of the Aruch Hashulchan,[2] and the well-known saint and sage, Rabbi Mordecai of Oshmino.[3]"

m said...

I think the current R'Korff spent time in Chaim Berlin.I don't know if he is a baal teshuva.He is quite educated, he went to Harvard I think

Hirshel Tzig - הירשל ציג said...

was Ms. Redstone religious when she married the current Rebbe?

m said...

From Wiki:

"He was educated at Yeshiva Rabbi Chaim Berlin, Yeshivas Beis Mordechai (Zvhil) of Jerusalem, and was tutored privately by masters of Hasidism and Kabbalah.

In addition, the Rebbe has a Ph.D., two law degrees, and several Masters degrees, from Columbia University, Harvard University, Boston University, The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy and other institutions.

Rabbi Korff simultaneously combined careers as a rabbi, chaplain, lawyer, diplomat, businessman and entrepreneur, and subsequently also inherited his grandfather's position as a Hasidic Rebbe."

Hirshel Tzig - הירשל ציג said...

something tells me there's something missing in that bio...

m said...

Sumner Redstone (viacom)(rothstein) was his father in law.
Maybe she was frum.
Dunno
He has a lot of money from that marriage apparently

m said...

Maybe u r right.
I always wondered.He is a lot older than his current rebbitzen.

m said...

Also found on Wiki"
He is also a descendant of the Chabad chasidic dynasty through the Chabad Mitler Rebbe's daughter and son-in-law Rabbi Yaakov Yisroel of Cherkass, son of Grand Rabbi Mordechai (Magid of Chernobyl). The students of the Maggid of Mezeritch had a tradition that Moshiach would descend either from the Maggid's eldest student- Rabbi Nachum of Chernobyl or from the Maggid's youngest student- the Alter Rebbe of Chabad. The two dynasties were merged through this marriage to produce a line that would satisfy both possibilities within the tradition.

His first wife, Shari Redstone whom he divorced, is the daughter of Sumner Redstone Chairman of the Board and controlling shareholder of the Viacom and CBS Corporation media conglomerates.

The Rebbe's second wife, the Rebbetzin, is a native of Jerusalem and a descendant of the Baal Shem Tov and the Hasidic dynasties of Zvhil, Zlotshev, and Tshernobl. She is the daughter of the Shomer Emunim Rebbe, Grand Rabbi Avrohom Chayim Roth of Jerusalem and Bnei Brak, who is the son of Reb Arele. Her mother, the Shomrei Emunim Rebbetzin, Rabbi Korff's third cousin, is the daughter of the previous Zvhiler Rebbe of Jerusalem, Rabbi Mordechai."

m said...

Interesting fellow
He is 61 and shares three kids with ex wife Shari Redstone/Korff.

Anonymous said...

Nice pic of the Rebbe and he sure has many seforim

http://www.flickr.com/photos/10227535@N08/2829232485/

m said...

R'Korffs father died earlier this year.Here is an obit
"Rabbi Nathan Korff, the longtime leader of Congregation B’nai Jacob on Blue Hills Parkway in Milton, died Monday. He was 91.

Rabbi Korff served the Jewish communities in Milton and Boston for nearly 60 years, and for decades was the spiritual leader of the Milton synagogue.

Congregation B’nai Jacob in Milton closed in 2006 and moved most of its religious services to Newton Congregation B’nai Jacob, which is headed by Rabbi Y.A. Korff, one of Rabbi Nathan Korff’s sons.

The orthodox Jewish synagogue that had been on the parkway in Milton since the 1950s had fallen into disrepair. Rabbi Nathan Korff, a Milton resident, remained in town.

He was the son of the late Grand Rabbi Jacob Korff and Rebbetzin Gittel Korff and the husband of Helen Korff. He also leaves his children, Grand Rabbi Y.A. Korff, Dr. Jeffrey Korff and Dr. Janice Korff, 11 grandchildren and his siblings.

Services were scheduled for non Tuesday at Zvhil-Mezbuz Beis Medrash, 955 Beacon St., Newton. He will be buried in Everett and Shiva will be held at the Rebbe's home until 9 p.m. Tuesday, and continue Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday from 1 to 3 p.m. and 6 to 9 p.m."

He studied in Torah Vodaas and in Yerosholayim.Note that he rabbi in an orthodox synagogue.So I don't think the current Boston-Zvihl is a baal teshuva, though he comes from a modern baCKROUND

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know if there is any relationship between Rabbi Korf, his Rebbetzin and

I understood the first marriage broke up on good terms with differences in how to live their lives as Rabbi Korf took a greater interst in his family legacy and Rabbinic leadership in Boston in general.

Did the daughter of the Shomrei Emunim run away from Israel and the whole Bnei Berak scene ?

Does anyone have the 'inside' story...was the SE Rebbe at their wedding and do Rabbi Korf's children get recognition in SE as the Rebbe's grandchildren ?

I spoke to a Shomrei Emunis chasid from Y-m who did not even know that Rabbi Korf was an eidem of the SE Rebbe. All he knew was the Rebbe's daughter ran away...wears a shaitel (big no-no in their circles) and lives outside Israel somewhere....obviously it is a 'under the carpet' issue...

I wonder how would Chabad and the Rebbe would have dealt with it if

Maybe it is irrelevant because
of the whole Dor Shvii issue...but does anyone have any ideas if the whole dor shvii and messianic ferver would have been the same if there was a 'succession' in Chabad

I.e. did all the Dor Shvii talk and moshiach focus arise as a direct reaction to lack of obvious sucessor and a reaction to the Rebbe not having any biological heir....or successor).....

Anonymous said...

anon: nice pic. now lets wait for someone to mention the artscroll english in the bottom left under his tallis.

Anonymous said...

Two posts I am waiting for

1)Bobov and Lubavitch relations

The Bobover Rebbe spoke of the Satmar Rebbe's encouragement

He was known to have good relatioship with the Rayatz due to their working together pre-war on the shechita gezeira in Poland/Russia

The Bobover Rebbe did not have such warm relations with R' MMS (although no one ever said they were bad). He sent his son Harav Hatzadik R' Naftuli to the lavaye....pretty much the only non Chabad gadol or Rebbe there.....

Someone said because the Lubavitchers tried to chap Bobover kids before moving to more fertile ground in Williamsburg.....


2)The Dombrova and Bobov relationship in Crown Heights and the Dombrover & Chabad relationship in Crown Heights.

Especially due to the Dombrover Rebbe's brothers in law the Roitblatt's becoming Chabad post war.

Anonymous said...

whether he's a baal teshuvah or not, his beard for sure looks new.

Twistelton-Twistelton said...

Do none of you remember 'Nixon’s Rabbi', the Baruch Korff of Boston who was a supporter of President Nixon? See here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baruch_Korff

Twistelton-Twistelton said...

Is his wife wearing a Shetial?

browser said...

Ziggele,why was this story so important,that it had to be posted ?
i am sure his NESHAMA had great NACHAS,as thousands of jew read about his misfortunes,what is a bigger sin than talking loshon hora on a living jew? it is talking loshon hora on someone oif YENNE VELT

Mottel said...

A friend of mine spent some time in Boston - while there he would hangout by Zvhil-Mezhibuzh.

The exact details of the history of the current Zhvil-Mezhibuzher escapes me, in short:

He grew up essentially MO. At one point he became interested in his roots and wanted to reconnect etc. His wife wasn't into it and the ended up splitting.

His current wife was a somewhat 'rebellious' daughter of the Shomer Emunim - apparently they went to the Rebbe for dollars once - but refused to actually take a dollar from his hand.
He has a son and a daughter from the first marriage - I don't know about the second.

Twistelton-Twistelton said...

i am sure his NESHAMA had great NACHAS,as thousands of jew read about his misfortunes,what is a bigger sin than talking loshon hora on a living jew? it is talking loshon hora on someone oif YENNE VELT

Actualy, Loshon Hara on the dead is a Cherem of Gaonim.

benny said...

Baruch Korff was his uncle.

Anonymous said...

Mottel
"- but refused to actually take a dollar from his hand"
who refused exactly?

bpunbound said...

"He sent his son Harav "Hatzadik R' Naftuli to the lavaye....pretty much the only non Chabad gadol or Rebbe there....."

Oh, really!? For one, the Skvere Rebbe was right outside the ohel (I know, I was standing right behind him), his gaboyim were trying to elbow him in.....

"Someone said because the Lubavitchers tried to chap Bobover kids before moving to more fertile ground in Williamsburg....."

No, actually becaue the Rebbe used to send bachorim to be mashlim his minyan, and everonne knows no good deed goes unpunished...

Chabad Historian said...

"2)The Dombrova and Bobov relationship in Crown Heights and the Dombrover & Chabad relationship in Crown Heights.
"

If you watched the early years series, you will know that when the Rebbe was in Berlin, he would go to the Dombrover shtiebel. In fact, he may have passed as many as 40, 45 shuls an shtiebelach until he got to the Dombrover shtiebel.

The Dombovover Rebbe's son, (whom they intervewed) was always curious as to why the Rebbe would go specifacly to his fathers shul. So when he heard about sunday dollars, he decided to go and ask.

On sunday, when he went to the Rebbe, he introduced himself as the son of the Dombovoer Rebbe. The Rebbe's reply was "You can't imagine who your was". Although he never got to ask his question, the Rebbe gave him two dollars.

Chabad Historian said...

Post(s) i am waiting for:

Post(s) regarding the history of other branches of Chabad: Strashelye, Kopust, Liadi, Nezhin, (Avrutch),Bobruisk and Retzitza and their descendants.

In addition to anonymus 9:05 request regarding the Rebbe 's relationship with Reb Shlomo, i also request Chabad relationship with the Tzanzer Rov and his eyniklach in general, and Reb Shlomo I and the Kedushas Tziyon in particular.

hadoid said...

bpunbound said
"No actually becaue the rebbe used to send bachorim to be mashlim his minyan"

WHEN? and WHERE?

Anonymous said...

Is he any relation to Zvhiller Rebbe that live in Los Angeles years ago?

Hirshel Tzig - הירשל ציג said...

Mr. Chabad Historian

I guess Dombrover History is not your strong suit...

That Dombrover was Rubin, thee one discussed here was Unger, father of the current Bobover Rebbe (45th)

Anonymous said...

Tsig,

Check you history! Dombrov Rabunim were Ungars for many doiros

Hirshel Tzig - הירשל ציג said...

ok, but this was a Rebbe, not a Roov

Anonymous said...

Anon.
"He was known to have good relatioship with the Rayatz due to their working together pre-war on the shechita gezeira in Poland/Russia"
When Rav Groner went to be Menachem Ovel RBZ of Bobov, they brought up that Reb Shlomele wanted to leave the US for Israel, and the F R advised him to stay in the USA, that the US Jews need him.

Anonymous said...

Zvill is related to Lubavitch?

Clueless said...

Isn't the Dombrover shteibel in Washington Heights started by Rubin of Berlin? He probably settled there as he was comfortable with the German crowd.
Are they related to Mujay of Flatbush?

Levy said...

THE Zviller rebbe R'Shlomo was considered one of the biggest tzadikim in Yeyshalayim

Anonymous said...

Interesting that he is a descendant of The Alter Rebbe

Anonymous said...

what is the name of Paul Gass,book thatchronicled the story of his family's arrival - and you might say assimilation into - America

thanks

Anonymous said...

also the admor of sambor , r uri geltzhaler ,is aidim of the shmray emunin rebbi

Anonymous said...

he was a conservitive rabbi for a period of tie he married my parents. later he grew the beard

mark good said...

Rabbi Doctor Korff also bought the Jewish Advocate newspaper in Boston when he was Sumner Redstone's son-in-law
and the old newspaper was going out of business. He still publishes it today.

Mark Goodman