Background: Who are the Slonim Hassidim

And why are they so attached to Emmanuel?

June 18, 2010 02:12
2 minute read.
Emmanuel school parents

Emmanuel Parents at Court. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)


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Slonim Hassidut has now been brought to the attention of every Israeli, and won star-status among the haredi populace. Its followers are now considered in the ultra-Orthodox community to be a symbol of adherence to the Torah and to their rabbi in the face of a secular court’s attempt to intervene in their educational values.

“Slonim are typical Ashkenazi hassidim,” Professor Menachem Friedman, a Bar-Ilan University sociologist and Jewish historian and one of Israel’s leading authorities on haredi society, told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday. “They are one of the smaller courts, and not a wealthy one.”

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The town of Slonim, where the Hassidut originated, is located in Lithuania, making the Slonim Hassidim “part of the small group of courts that maintained their hassidic lifestyle in the heart of the Lithuanian haredi Jewry,” Friedman continued.

“Of the various hassidic courts, the Slonim have one of the longest presences here, due to the fact that in the 19th century the rabbi ordered part of the court to immigrate to Israel,” Friedman said. The Hassidim settled in Tiberius, alongside Karlin Hassidut. This move is what afforded the continuity of the Slonim Hassidut, whose larger Eastern European branch was decimated in the Holocaust.

“In the middle of the 20th century, after the leadership of the Hassidut had been reestablished in Israel, the court moved to Jerusalem, and built a new yeshiva on the outskirts of Mea She’arim. The Slonim Rebbe was Rabbi Avraham Weinberg and the yeshiva was headed by Rabbi Shalom Noah Barazovsky, Weinberg’s son-in-law, who attracted many to the Hassidut due to his greatness in Torah. He was central in rehabilitating the small Hassidut,” Friedman continued.

“However, a drama occurred when, during a Shabbat meal in the early 80s, a group of hassidim appointed Rabbi Sholom Noah Barazovsky as Admor while Weinberg was still alive, which caused a major split between the factions supporting and following each of the rabbis.”

That rift remains to this day, Friedman explained.

The current Admor of Emmanuel-Slonim Hassidim, Rabbi Shmuel Barazovsky, is Shalom Noah Barazovsky’s son.

“The Barazovsky Slonim,” said Friedman, “gravitated towards Agudat Israel,” the hassidic faction of United Torah Judaism, “while the other group, sometimes called ‘Slonim Beit Israel,’ remained part of the Eda Haredit,” which is neither represented in the Knesset nor takes funding from the State.

Emmanuel was meant to become the center for Slonim, where their institutions – a kollel, yeshivas for the various age groups and more – could be established, but the economic crisis in the small locale, located in Samaria, caused the more empowered residents to leave, Friedman noted.

“The affinity of the small and unified group of Slonim hassidim that remained in Emmanuel to their educational institutions is important, as it ensures their continuity; they stayed there under the difficult conditions because they want their institutions,” Friedman said.

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