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Difference between Talmud Torah and Yeshivah
4/12/2012 5:30:57 PM
What is the difference in the lingo of Interwar east coast Jews in America between a Talmud Torah and a Yeshiva?
Agudath Israel
12/12/2011 7:44:55 PM
Agudath Israel in America was founded in the 1930's by Rabbi Eliezer Silver. Originally it was an East European Jewish Orthodox political movement. By the late 30's, upon the eruption of World War II R. Silver became involved with the "Vaad haHatzalah" (rescue committe) to try to save Eastern European Jews from the Nazi claw. In New York, the effort was led by Mike Tress from Agudath Israel on 616 Bedford Ave. in Williamsburg.

The Agudath Israel synagogue there was quickly converted into a sprawling headquarters from which Mr. Tress spearheaded his rescue campaigns. Thousands of letters, including petitions, affidavits and pleas for help were typed up and sent all over the globe. Once the refugees began arriving, the building itself was adapted to accomodate the arrivals temporarily until they can find housing and employment in the new country.

Relation to Hasidim and Satmar.

Agudath Israel had the blessing of the Gerer Rebbe when first established in Europe. After the war other prominent Hasidic sects in Israel such as Belz and Vizhnitz followed suit and joined the Orthodox political umbrella organization. In the United States, however, the "Agudah" --as it is colloquially known-- never gained traction in the Hasidic sector. This is in large part due to the outsize influence wiedled over Hasidism in America by the Satmar Rebbe, Joel Teitelbaum (d. 1978). Under his guidance, no discourse with the Zionist regime was permissable and the Agudah was thus committing a grave sin of "hithhabruth lareshaim" (association with the wicked). In short order, therefore, the Agudah's presence in Williamsburg vaporized. The site that was previously the single most importsant operational center for rescuing Jews during the war is now inhabited by a petty, no-name Hasidic shul, known as Biksad.

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