Ozharov (Hasidic dynasty)

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The Ozerov Hasidic dynasty is a Hasidic group that began in 1827 when Rabbi Yehudah Leib Epstein, Rabbi of Ożarów in Poland since 1811, assumed leadership of his Hasidim ("disciples"). Ozerov is known for its learning as one if the intellectual Hasidic dynasties.

Rabbi Epstein was a disciple of the Seer of Lublin, the Holy Jew of Prshiskhe, the Ohev Yisrael of Apt, Poland[citation needed], and Rabbi Myer, the Or LaShamayim of Apt. When Rabbi Myer died in 1827, his chasidim asked the Rabbi of Ożarów to be their new rebbe. Rabbi Yehudah Leib accepted this position reluctantly. His followers numbered in the thousands. He moved to Opole towards the end of his life and died in 1837. He was succeeded by his son, Rabbi Yechiel Chaim Epstein. Rabbi Yechiel Chaim was succeeded by his son, Rabbi Arye Yehuda Leib Epstein, author of the Hasidic work Birkas Tov, in 1887.

Rabbi Arye Yehuda Leib had six children:

  1. Grand Rabbi Avraham Shlomo Epstein of Ozharov (1864-1917) (who succeeded his father in 1913),
  2. Rabbi Eliezer Shalom Epstein of Partzev,
  3. Rabbi Yoseph Epstein of Josefów,
  4. Grand Rabbi Alter Moshe David Epstein of Ćmielów,
  5. Rabbi Yaakov Epstein, Rebbetzin Chava Rabinowicz (wife of Grand Rabbi Yerachmiel Tzvi Rabinowitz of Biala-Shedlitz),
    and
  6. Rebbetzin Feiga Taub (wife of Rabbi Yaakov Yerachmiel Taub of Radom, brother of Rabbi Israel Taub of Modzhitz).

Rabbi Avraham Shlomo Epstein was the son-in-law of Grand Rabbi Chaim Shmuel of Chentshin. He served as rebbe for only four years, and was succeeded by his son, Rabbi Moshe Yechiel Epstein.


Rabbi Moshe Yechiel first came to the US in 1920 as part of a delegation from Agudas Yisroel, to raise money to help the Jewish refugees in Poland, which had been a major battleground between the Germans, Austrians, and Russians during WWI. While gone, Rabbi Moshe Yechiel's brother started to "fir rabbanus" in Ozherov, and made himself popular. When he returned and saw that people really liked his brother, he decided not make a controversy, and took over as rabbi of the smaller Polish town of Otwock.

Shortly thereafter, Rabbi Moshe Yechiel was traveling on a train when a Polish man started up with him and spit on him. Rabbi Moshe Yechiel had been offered to be the rabbi of a synagogue for Ozerov immigrants on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, and this incident representative of the treatment of Jews by the Polish people was the impetus for him to apply to immigrate to the US. After being rejected a first time, he was granted permission the second time and moved his Hasidic court to New York in 1926. Rabbi Moshe Yechiel spent several years in the Lower East Side of Manhattan, and then moved to the Bronx.

Rabbi Moshe Yechiel's entire family in Europe was wiped out in the Holocaust. After World War II the remnants of the chasidim of Chentshin were left leaderless, their rebbe having been killed by the Nazis. They adopted the Ozerover Rebbe, a grandson of the first Chentshiner Rebbe, as their leader. Rabbi Moshe Yechiel was therefore given the title Grand Rabbi of Ozerov-Chentshin.

Excited by the new Israeli state, Rabbi Moshe Yechiel moved to Tel-Aviv in 1952, where he spent the rest of his life.

Rabbi Moshe Yechiel was known as one of the great Torah scholars of his generation. His encyclopedic series of Torah commentaries entitled Eish Dos (11 volumes) and Be'er Moshe (12 volumes) are renowned for their depth. They were considered to be just a small sample of the Rebbe's erudition. In 1968 he was a recipient of the Israel Prize in the category of Torah literature.

Rabbi Moshe Yechiel died in 1971, and was succeeded by his grandson, Grand Rabbi Tanchum Becker (son of Rabbi Moshe Yechiel's daughter, Rebbetzin Miriam Becker and Rabbid Dovid Eliyahu Becker, a rav in Milwaukee, Wisconsin), the present Rebbe of Ozerov-Chentshin, who was trained by his grandfather to succeed him. Grand Rabbi Becker presently resides with his family in Bnei Brak, where he leads the Ozerov Torah Center, comprising a yeshiva, a kollel for married Talmudic scholars, and the Ozerover Beis Medrash..


Outline of Ozerov dynasty[edit]

  • Grand Rabbi Yehuda Leib Epstein of Ozharov (d. 23 Teiveis 1837)
    • Grand Rabbi Yechiel Chaim Epstein (1820-1888), son of Rabbi Yehudah Leib
      • Grand Rabbi Aryeh Yehuda Leib Epstein of Ozharov (1837-1914), author of Birkas Tov, son of Rabbi Yechiel Chaim
        • Grand Rabbi Avrohom Shlomo Epstein of Ozharov (1864-1917), author of She'eiris HaBrachah, son of Rabbi Arye Yehuda Leib and son-in-law of Grand Rabbi Chaim Shmuel Horowicz-Szternfeld of Chentshin
          • Grand Rabbi Moshe Yechiel HaLevi Epstein of Ozerov-Chentchin (1889-1971), author of Eish Dos and Be'er Moshe, son of Rabbi Avrohom Shlomo
            • Rabbi Dovid Eliyahu Becker of Milwaukee (was not Rebbe), son-in-law of Rabbi Yechiel Moshe Epstein of Ozerov-Chentchin
              • Grand Rabbi Tanchum Becker of Ozerov-Chentchin (b. 1949), present Ozerover Rebbe, son of Rabbi Dovid Eliyahu Becker and Rebetzin Miriam Becker (daughter of Reb Moshe Yechiel, Zt"l)
        • Grand Rabbi Alter Moshe David Epstein of Tshmelov, son of Rabbi Arye Yehuda Leib.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  • בלבת אש Belabas Eish - history of the Ozharov dynasty.
  • Y. Alfasi החסידות מדור לדור Hachasidut midor ledor, Jerusalem.
  • Ha-Eish-Dos - history of the Eish Dos
  • Intro. to Birkas Tov, Y. Becker.
  • Oral history of the family, D. Zarmi.

External links[edit]