NEW YORK (Aug. 20)
Rabbi Joel Teitelbaum, spiritual leader of the Satmar Hasidic movement, died yesterday at the age of 93 of a heart attack at Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan. He was buried in a private cemetery on the grounds of Kiryas Joel, the 340-acre village he helped establish in Monroe in upstate New York. More than 100,000 followers from all over the world gathered yesterday in Monroe to pay their last respects to the rabbi who had led the Satmar Hasidim in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg section and the Noturei Karta in Jerusalem.
Teilelbaum, who was an opponent of Zionism and the State of Israel, maintaining that only the Messiah could create a Jewish State, was born in Sigut, Rumania. He founded the Satmar yeshiva movement in nearby Satu Mare in 1906. At the age of 17, he succeeded his father as chief rabbi of the Satmar Hasidic movement in Hungary and remained their leader until the outbreak of World War II, when he was imprisoned in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. He escaped several times and eventually went to Israel where he became the chief rabbi of the Satmar Hasidim there.
He was sought after by politicians. In 1968, Vice President Hubert Humphrey called upon Teitelbaum at his home in Brooklyn where he had settled to discuss tensions between some Black militants and the Jewish community. Last March, the rabbi appeared at a rally in Madison Square Garden attended by some 5000 to protest a road project in Jerusalem they considered an interference with the observance of the Sabbath. Teitelbaum was also president of the Central Rabbinical Congress of the United States and Canada which reportedly represents more than 250,000 Hasidim. His wife, Feiga, is his only immediate survivor.