The Chasidic Group of Czortkw

by Abraham Heshel

Grand Rabbi Dovid Moshe of Chortkov, was born in 1828 in the city of Ruzhin. The fifth son of the renowned Chasidic Master Reb Yisroel the holy one of Ruzhin, he became Rebbe in the city of Potik in 1851, a year after his fathers passing. In 1865 he would move to Chortkov, and would become famous as the Chortkover Rebbe. For over forty years this saintly master led a flourishing court in this Galician town, thousands of followers from throughout easter-Europe flocked to him seeking his advice and blessings. Even Chasidic Rebbes from Poland and Lithuania, some with thousands of followers in their own right, would travel to him and stand with awe in his presence.

Upon his death in 1904, his son Reb Yisroel succeeded him. Like his father he continued to attract thousands, including many of the leading Rabbis of the time. In 1914, the Russian invasion forced him to flee Chortkov, he settled in Vienna, Austria where he reestablished his court. He was one of the founders of the worldwide orthodox Agudath Israel organization, and was a strong proponent of settling the land of Israel.

Reb Yisroel died in 1934, both his surviving sons, R Nochum Mordechai and R Dov Ber, succeeded him as Chortkover Rebbes. Tragically R Dov Ber died only two years later in 1936. In 1939 R Nochum Mordechai fled the Nazi hordes and moved to Israel, where he died in 1946. His successor was his son Reb Shlomo, who led the Chortkov Chasidic group from his court in Tel Aviv until his own untimely death in 1959.

Remarkably, many of the descendants of the Chortkover Chasidim have remained loyal to this group, despite its having been leaderless for more than four decades. In the early 1990s followers in Israel began rallying around two regal and charismatic grandsons of R Dov Ber, hoping that one or both would agree to become a Chortkover Rebbe and thus rebuild this majestic dynasty. To the dismay of the Chasidim the two brothers, appropriately named Dov Ber and Yisroel Friedman refused to accept the title of Rebbe. Dov Ber would later settle in Belguim, where he soon was became known as a community activist and an ideal role model for the descendants of the Chortkover Chasidim. Yisroel Friedman moved to Manchester, England where he opened a Chortkover Shtibel and authored a book on the Friedman dynasty.

In the mid 1990s a new Chortkover Shtibel was founded in Antwerp, Belguim, which in addition to Shtibels in Manchester and Jerusalem, remain the only remnants of a movement of tens of thousands.

Timetable

1828 R Dovid Moshe is born to the Ruzhiner.
1840 The Ruzhiner flees Russia and settles in Sadigora.
1850 The Ruzhiner passes away in Sadigora.
1854 R Yisroel is born to R Dovid Moshe.
1851 R Dovid Moshe becomes Rebbe in Potik.
1865 R Dovid Moshe moves to Chortkov.
1874 R Nochum Mordechai is born to R Yisroel.
1882 R Dov Ber is born to R Yisroel.
1904 R Dovid Moshe passes away in Chortkov
1934 R Yisroel passes away in Vienna, Austria, and is succeeded by both his sons.
1936 R Dov Ber passes away in Vienna, Austria
1939 R Nochum Mordechai flees the Nazis and moves to Israel.
1946 R Nochum Mordechai dies in Jerusalem, Israel. He is succeeded by his son R Shlomo.
1959 R Shlomo dies in Tel Aviv, Israel.


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Last updated 06/21/03 by ELR
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