Over the centuries, Hasidic Judaism has broken into numerous movements called “courts,” each led by a rebbe, a spiritual leader revered for his holiness and wisdom. Metro New York is home to the largest Hasidic population in the United States with an estimated
165 thousand people.
The Bobov Hasidim are the third-largest Hasidic group in Metro New York, following the Satmar and the Lubavitcher. The essence of Bobov teaching is shalom or peace. The Bobover are known for their moderation and tolerance, qualities modeled by the first American Bobover rebbe, Shlomo Halberstamm. The Bobover split in 2005 after the death of Rebbe Halberstamm’s son, Naftali. One side claims Naftali’s younger brother is the rightful rebbe, while the others champion his son-in-law.
If a young Bobover man wants to pursue secular studies after the yeshiva, a religious school, the rebbe will not forbid him. This openness, uncommon among other Hasidic groups, has provided the Bobovers with a home-grown crop of professionals that serve the community. Like all Hasidim, Bobovers center their lives on family, community, and worship. They marry young, raise large families, and have defined roles. Women manage the home and children, and men have a few career options, such as rabbinical studies, teaching at the yeshiva, or entering a profession or family business.
Like all Hasidim, the Bobover’s beliefs are centered on studying the Torah and obeying the 613 mitzvot (commandments), laws that cover every aspect of life and include ethical, social, and ritual obligations. At the core of Hasidic belief is the power of prayer—especially the prayers of the rebbe—to obtain miracles typically related to health or business concerns. The Bobover tend to downplay tales of miracles performed by their rebbe, focusing instead on the rebbe’s holiness and wisdom. Bobover Jews are friendly with all Hasids. They do not take a political stand on Israel, unlike the Lubavitch and Satmar, who disagree vehemently on the subject.