Rabbi Yitzchak Meir HESCHEL

Submitted by Abraham J. Heschel

Rabbi Yitzchak Meir Heschel was born November 25 1861 in Medzibush, Ukraine, then part of Russia, the son of Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, the Grand Rabbi of Medzibush, and Leah Rochel Friedman. On February10, 1881, he married his fathers first cousin, Gitel Friedman, daughter of the Grand Rabbi of Husyatin, Rabbi Mordechai Feivush Friedman. Heschel lived in Husyatin until the death of his father-in-law on June 27, 1894. That very year he was invited by the Chasidic community of Kopychintsy to be their Rebb or Grand Rabbi; subsequently, he founded the Chassidic dynasty of Kopychintsy. During his stay in Kopychintsy, the town became the spiritual center for thousands of his followers. Kopychintsy Chassidic group had Synagogues in many surrounding towns, including Terebovlia, and Ternopil. He lived in Kopychintsy until 1914, when he fled from the Russian invaders, He settled in Vienna, Austria, but continued to visit Kopychintsy annually until his death on September 28, 1935. His son, Grand Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, was born in Husyatin on April16, 1888. He married his first cousin, Sarah Brocha Heschel (the older sister of Prof. Abraham Joshua Heschel) on August 27, 1909. He succeeded his father as the Grand Rabbi of Kopychintsy. In 1939, he fled from the Nazis to the United States. He reestablished his court in the Lower East Side of New York and, once again, the Kopychintsy Chassidic group flourished. Heschel was a beloved and famed figure within the Jewish community, as his warmth and caring attracted religious and secular alike. In 1965, he moved to Boro Park, Brooklyn where died on July 24, 1967. He was succeeded by his son, Grand Rabbi Moshe Mordechai Heschel, who died on March 29, 1975.

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