Hasidic People: A Place in the New World

By Jerome R. Mintz | Go to book overview

11
Two Courts in Borough Park: Bobov and Stolin

Choosing a New Stoliner Rebbe

Two distinct Hasidic courts--Stolin and Bobov--exemplify the range and the development of Hasidic social organization in Borough Park. The Stolin-Karlin Hasidim were one of several small Hasidic courts of less than a hundred families. At the core of the court were the American-born sons of Stoliner Hasidim who had emigrated from Europe before the Second World War. Hasidim of the Stolin and Karlin dynasty were always noted for their shouted and table-thumping prayers. Though almost all of the Stoliner Hasidim were American-born young men, they were as devout, as merry, and as enthusiastic as if they had spent their childhood in a Russian shtetl.

In the 1940s the Stoliner Hasidim consisted of elderly and middle-aged men, and some children. Most of the young men between the ages of twenty and thirty-five whose parents were from Stolin had drifted away from Hasidism. They had either attended an Orthodox yeshivah or left Orthodoxy altogether. Many had moved elsewhere. There were very few women in attendance, and those who participated in the activities were middle-aged.

The dynasty of Stolin had almost been extinguished in the war. Four of the six sons of Reb Israel of Karlin 1 had been killed by the Nazis in Stolin, Karlin, and Warsaw. (Another son, Reb Yaakov, had immigrated to the United States in 1929, but he had died in 1946.) Reb Yohanan, the last remaining son, had survived the death camps and settled in Israel. When the Stoliner Hasidim in America learned of his whereabouts they sent a delegation to Israel to convince him to return with them to America. In 1948, Reb Yohanan, then forty-eight years of age, arrived with his daughter and settled in Williamsburg as the Rebbe of a small band of exuberant followers.

When the Rebbe arrived he emphasized the need for Stolin to have its own yeshivah. The identity of Stolin, as of every other court, was built

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