Satmar Jews is a Hasidic group originating from the city of Szatmárnémeti, Hungary (now Satu Mare, Romania), where it was founded in 1905 by Rabbi Joel Teitelbaum. Following World War II, it was re-established in New York, becoming one of the largest Hasidic movements in the world.
“If I were a rich man [....] I’d discuss the holy books with the learned men, several hours every day. That would be the sweetest thing of all!” sang the character Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof. Tevye’s song aptly illustrates a problem with Orthodox Judaism’s emphasis
on study of the Torah (Jewish Scriptures) as the best way to grow closer to God — most Jews did not have the means or time for such in-depth scholarship.
In late eighteenth century Eastern Europe, a movement called Hasidism arose to challenge this tradition. Hasidim, which means “pious ones” in Hebrew, teach that prayer, mystical experiences, and joyful worship with singing and dancing are equally valid ways of drawing closer to God.
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.
Satmar Judaism was founded in 1905 by Rabbi Joel Teitelbaum. Following World War II, it was re-established in New York, becoming one of the largest Hasidic movements in the world. After Rabbi Joel's death, he was succeeded by his nephew, Moshe Teitelbaum. Since the latter's death in 2006, the dynasty is split between his two sons, Aaron Teitelbaum and Zalman Teitelbaum.
Satmar Jews are characterized by extreme religious rigidity, rejection of modern culture, and fierce anti-Zionism. Satmar sponsors a comprehensive education and media system in Yiddish, and its members use Yiddish as a primary language. The sect also serves as the leading power within those ultra-Orthodox circles which oppose the State of Israel, heading the Central Rabbinical Congress and providing most donations for the Orthodox Council of Jerusalem.
Satmar women are required to cover their necklines fully, and to wear long sleeves, long skirts, and full stockings. Upon marriage, they must shave their head after which Satmar women wear a wig with a kind of pillbox hat . While these requirements are not very different from other Hasidic dynasties, the Grand Rebbe also insisted that the stockings of women and girls be fully opaque, a norm accepted by other Hungarian Hasidic groups which revered him.
Pray that Christians will be aware of the existence of this people group and intentionally form friendships with Satmar Jews.
The Satmar Jews will find shalom (peace) in their lives, a word that signifies being “complete, perfect, and full.” Pray that they would recognize Christ as Messiah and Sar Shalom, the Prince of Peace.
Pray that the Satmar Jews will come in contact with evangelical Christians who will reveal Christ to them both in deed and word.
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