David Twersky (Skverer Rebbe)

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David Twersky (Skverer Rebbe)
Skverer Rebbe
Skverer Rebbe With Torah.jpg
Skverer Rebbe dancing with Torah (2005)
Term April 1968 – present
Full name David Twersky
Born October 28, 1940
Iaşi, Romania
Dynasty Skver
Predecessor Yakov Yosef Twersky
Wife Chana Hager

Rabbi David Twersky (born October 28, 1940[1]), originally spelled Twerski, is the Grand Rabbi and spiritual leader of the village of New Square, New York and of Skverer Hasidism worldwide.

Early life[edit]

Twersky was born in Iaşi, Romania in 1940. In 1945, at the end of World War II, his family moved to Bucharest. In 1947 they emigrated to the United States, where they settled in Borough Park, Brooklyn and later in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Twersky's father, Rabbi Yakov Yosef Twersky established the all-Hasidic village of New Square, New York in Rockland County in 1954.

Family[edit]

At the age of 18, Twersky married Chana Hager, the elder daughter of the Vizhnitzer Rebbe of Bnei Brak, Israel, Rabbi Moshe Yehoshua Hager.

Rabbi Aaron Menachem Mendel Twersky is the eldest son of skverer rebbe, and he is seen as the continuing of skvere leadership, even now, does his father send, his eldest son, on several mission and tasks, in his name.

Lineage[edit]

Twersky claims to be the nearest living descendant of the Ba'al Shem Tov and of the Ba'al Shem Tov's disciple Rabbi Menachem Nachum of Chernobyl.[citation needed]

Lineage from Ba'al Shem Tov[edit]

  • Ba'al Shem Tov
    • Rabbi Tzvi
      • Rabbi Aaron of Tituv
        • Rabbi Tzvi of Tituv (Hershele Skverer)
          • Chana Sima (married Rabbi Yitzchak Twerski of Skvira)
            • Rabbi David Twersky of Skvira
              • Rabbi Yakov Yosef Twersky, previous Rebbe of Skver
                • Rabbi David Twersky

Lineage from Rabbi Menachem Nachum Twerski of Chernobyl[edit]

  • Rabbi Menachem Nachum Twerski of Chernobyl
    • Rabbi Mordechai Twersky of Chernobyl
      • Rabbi Yitzchak Twersky of Skvira
        • Rabbi David Twersky of Skvira
          • Rabbi Yakov Yosef Twersky, previous Rebbe of Skver
            • Rabbi David Twersky

As Grand Rabbi[edit]

In April 1968, following his father's death, Twersky assumed the leadership of New Square and of Skverer Hasidim worldwide.[2] According to the Jewish Daily Forward, most New Square residents “revere their rebbe as a saint and look to him for guidance on all issues”, showing their devotion singing and praying at his weekly “tish” while he eats, “ritualistically partaking in morsels from his meal.”[3] The Forward also reports, that Twersky “eats his meals on silver platters with golden utensils, owns a number of latest model Cadillacs for himself and his family, and lights his Hanukkah candles on a massive six-foot-tall sterling silver menorah that ... cost tens of thousands of dollars.”[4] Twersky's word is considered law in New Square. He rarely speaks publicly, and exerts authority through a body of about 15 persons appointed by him known as “the kehillah”.[3] There are reports that a group of New Square thugs are acting violently and criminally against persons who do not accept his dictates.[5]

Aron Rottenberg Incident[edit]

After Twersky reportedly issued a public order forbidding residents to pray in Synagogues outside New Square,[6] his butler ("hois bochur"), 18 year old Shaul Spitzer attempted to burn down the house of the Rottenberg family, while the family was asleep inside. As a result of the attack, Aron Rottenberg, who had refused to abide by Twersky's edict, suffered third-degree burns on over 50% of his body.[7] Spitzer, who suffered third-degree burns on his hands, has been charged with attempted murder, attempted arson and assault. He has pleaded not guilty.[8] After several days of silence, Twersky told yeshiva students that “the use of force and violence to make a point or settle an argument violates Skver’s most fundamental principles.” [3] Further, he put out a statement expressing his hope that everyone injured would recover, not distinguishing between Rottenberg as victim and Spitzer as accused perpetrator.[9] Rottenberg's lawyer, civil rights attorney Michael Sussman,[10] filed a suit in New York State Supreme Court against Twersky and Spitzer, seeking an $18 million judgment against each of the defendants.[11] The suit accuses Twersky of directing and condoning a campaign of harassment against Rottenberg, his wife and his children because of Rottenberg's refusal to pray in the village synagogue presided over by Twersky. Twersky has requested the dismissal of the lawsuit on the ground that it lacks “factual basis.”[12]

Rabbi David Twersky with then President and First Lady Bill and Hillary Clinton in the White House on December 22, 2000[13]

Political influence[edit]

As in many Hasidic communities, the community in New Square tends to exercise its voting power as a bloc under the guidance of the Grand Rabbi. He usually supports incumbents or those likely to win, putting the community in a good position to receive government money. In 1992, New Square voted 822 for President George Bush to 93 for Bill Clinton, in 1996 it supported President Clinton over Bob Dole, 1,110 to 31. In 1994 it backed Mario Cuomo running against George Pataki, 907 to 63, and switched sides in 1998 and backed Governor Pataki over Democrat Peter Vallone, 1,132 to 8. In November 2000, vice president Al Gore squashed George W. Bush 1,388 to 25, after he had visited Twersky in February. During the 2000 Senate campaign, Hillary Rodham Clinton visited Rabbi Twersky and his wife in New Square while running for the U.S. Senate and got nearly 100 percent of the local vote. Twersky was invited to the White House in December 2000 and managed to attain commutations for the criminal sentences of four Skver Hasidic Jews, who had been convicted of defrauding the government of more than 30 million dollars to benefit the educational institutions of New Square.[14]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Grand Rabbi David Twersky, Geni.com
  2. ^ "Arson attack exposes New York shtetl". Arizona Jewish Post. June 23, 2011. 
  3. ^ a b c Andrew Tobin (June 8, 2011). "New Square: Where Tradition and the Rebbe Rule". The Jewish Daily Forward. 
  4. ^ Shulem Deen (May 30, 2011). "What Is Really Happening in New Square?". The Jewish Daily Forward. 
  5. ^ Shawn Cohen; Steve Lieberman (June 5, 2011). "Group of devotees enforces obedience to grand rebbe in New Square, residents say". loHud.com. 
  6. ^ "New Square Arson Victim Blames Attack On Community’s Religious Intolerance". CBS New York. June 8, 2011. 
  7. ^ Steve Lieberman (May 23, 2011). "Suspect in New Square arson attack now facing murder charge". loHud.com. 
  8. ^ Steve Lieberman (July 18, 2011). "New Square grand rebbe moves to have burn victim's lawsuit dismissed". loHud.com. 
  9. ^ Steve Lieberman (May 26, 2011). "New Square grand rabbi speaks on arson attack; lawyer calls for federal investigation". loHud.com. 
  10. ^ Peter Applebome (June 5, 2011). "In Hasidic Village, Attempted Murder Arrest Is Linked to Schism". The New York Times. 
  11. ^ "Arson attack victim files suit against Chasidic sect’s grand rabbi". JTA. June 13, 2011. 
  12. ^ "New Square rebbe seeks dismissal of arson suit". JTA, Jewish Journal. July 20, 2011. 
  13. ^ "Pardon Me, Boys". Time Magazine. February 25, 2001. 
  14. ^ Larry Cohler-Esses; Joel Siegel (February 12, 2001). "The Wooing of Hillary Clinton. Pardons on mind of New Square rabbi". Daily News. 

External links[edit]