David Twersky (Skverer Rebbe)

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David Twersky
Skverer Rebbe off New Square.
Skverer Rebbe With Torah.jpg
Skverer Rebbe dancing with Torah (2005)
TermApril 1968 – present
Full nameDavid Twersky
BornOctober 28, 1940
Iaşi, Romania
DynastySkver
PredecessorYakov Yosef Twersky
WifeChana Chaya Hager
ChildrenAaron Menachem Mendel Twersky, Yitzchok Twersky, Hinda Twersky, Tziporah Goldman, Sima Mirl Hager, Ya'kov Yosef Twersky, Chaim Meir Twersky

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 Rebbetzin Chana Chaya Hager, the elder daughter of the Vizhnitzer Rebbe of Bnei Brak, Israel, Rabbi Moshe Yehoshua Hager. The couple has four sons and three daughters:

  • Rabbi Aaron Menachem Mendel Twersky is the eldest son of the Skverer Rebbe. He is seen to be continuing the Skvere leadership and is often sent as an emissary of his father. He married his first cousin Rebbetzin Chavah Reizel, daughter of his uncle, Grand Rabbi Mordechai Hager of Viznitz-Monsey.
  • Rabbi Yitzchok, married his first cousin Rebbetzin Malka Henya, daughter of his uncle, Grand Rabbi Yisroel Hager of Vizhnitz Bnei Brak.
  • Rebbetzin Hinda, the wife of her first cousin, Rabbi Avrohom Yehoshua Heschl, Son of her uncle, Grand Rabbi Chai Yitzchok Twersky of Rachmistrivka Borough Park.
  • Rabbetzin Tzipporah, the wife of Rabbi Eliezer Goldman, son of the previous Grand Rabbi of Zvhil.
  • Rebbetzin Sima Mirl, the wife of Rabbi Yakov Yosef, a grandson of Grand Rabbi Mordechai Hager of Vizhnitz Monsey.
  • Rabbi Yakov Yosef, married Rebbetzin Chanah Yente, daughter of Grand Rabbi Yeshaya Twersky from Chernobyl Borough Park.
  • Rabbi Chaim Meir, married Rebbetzin Rochel Dina, granddaughter of Grand Rabbi Moshe Halberstam of Kiviashd.

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”.”[3] The Forward also reports, that Twersky lights his Hanukkah candles on a massive six-foot-tall sterling silver menorah that a wealthy follower bought him.”[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]

Rabbi David Twersky with then President and First Lady Bill and Hillary Clinton in the White House on December 22, 2000[5]

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, voters supported President Clinton over Bob Dole, 1,110 to 31. In 1994, voters backed Mario Cuomo against George Pataki, 907 to 63, and in 1998 backed Governor Pataki over Democrat Peter Vallone, 1,132 to 8. In November 2000, vice president Al Gore received more votes than George W. Bush 1,388 to 25, after Mr. Gore visited Twersky in February of the year. During the 2000 Senate campaign, first lady Hillary Clinton visited Rabbi Twersky and his wife in New Square while running for the U.S. Senate and received nearly 100 percent of the local vote. Twersky was invited to the White House in December 2000 and secured commutations for the criminal sentences of four Skver hasidim, who had been convicted of defrauding the government of more than 30 million dollars to benefit the educational institutions of New Square.[6]

Controversy[edit]

Aron Rottenberg, a resident of the village of New Square, New York, was attacked with an incendiary device outside his home in the early morning of May 22, 2011 by eighteen-year-old Shaul Spitzer who intended to set the house afire because Rottenberg chose not to pray in New Square's main synagogue led by Skver Grand Rabbi David Twersky. Rottenberg suffered third-degree burns over 50 percent of his body, Spitzer suffered burns to his hands and arms. Grand Rabbi David Twersky and other community leaders strongly condemned the use of violence. Rottenberg blamed Twersky for inciting the incident and filed a $36 million civil lawsuit against Twersky and Spitzer. He reached a settlement for about $2 million. The settlement brought assurances from the community’s leaders that they will respect his religious rights to pray wherever he wants, allow him to sell his house and permit him to send his children to any school without interference.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ off new square /336195019000012779 Grand Rabbi David. Twersky, Geni.com
  2. ^ "Arson attack exposes New York shtetl". Arizona Jewish Post. June 23, 2011.
  3. ^ a b 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. ^ "Pardon Me, Boys". Time Magazine. February 25, 2001.
  6. ^ 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]