Thursday, November 18, 2010
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.