Joel(ish) Teitelbaum of Satmar (1888-1979), son of Hananiah Yom Tov Lipa Teitelbaum, served in communities in the Carpathians and Northern Transylvania, and from 1928 at Satmar (Satu Mare). He became involved there in fierce controversies with both Zionist circles and Hasidim attached to other zaddikim, who violently opposed him. During the holocaust in 1944, he was saved in the rescue train arranged through R. R. Kasztner and from Bergen-Belsen reached Erez Israel. (see Jeremiah, chapters 42 and 43). In 1947 he settled in the Williamsburg quarter of Brooklyn, New York, which was the center of a hasidic congregation that continued the way of life of a hasidic town in Hungary. In 1953 Teitelbaum became rabbi of the ultra-Orthodox Neturei Karta community in Jerusalem, although he remained in New York and only visited Israel every few years. Later his ties with the community weakened and it ceased to regard him as rabbi.

Teitelbaum continued to be one of the most vigorous opponents of Zionism and the State of Israel, and engaged in intensive activity against the latter both in Israel and abroad, in his writings and sermons, and by demonstrations. While his opposition to Zionism and the State of Israel was based on halakhic grounds, most of which had been raised from the beginning of the Zionist movement, he added objections to the way of life and the social and political order in Israel, which in his opinion contradict the principles of halakhah. According to Teitelbaum, Zionism and the establishment of the State of Israel constitutes a violation of the three oaths which the people of Israel was made to swear (see Ket.3). This has delayed the coming of Messiah and complete redemption, and resulted in all the troubles affecting the Jewish people in the 20th century. The Holocaust also was a punishment for the sins of Zionism and the State of Israel. Hence Teitelbaum denounced the secular character of the state, objecting to its democratic regime and legislature as not being founded on halakhah.

Teitelbaum also opposed the use of Hebrew as the spoken language, since this has secularized the holy tongue, and the adoption of the Sephardi pronunciation instead of the Ashkenazi. However Teitelbaum did not express opposition to settlement in Israel provided that it was not through a mass aliyah movement but carried out by individuals only, from this point of view Erez Israel being no worse than other countries...Teitelbaum forbade the Hasidim living in his community to cooperate with state institutions, while ordering those living in Israel not to take the oath of loyalty to the state, not to take part in the elections to its parliamentary institutions, and not to make use of its law courts or legal system.

Great Leaders of our People

Rav Yoel Teitelbaum - The Satmarer Rebbe
(1887 – 1979)

Rabbi Yoel Teitelbaum began his rabbinic career in Krooly, a small town in Hungary. In 1929, the Rav of the Orthodox community in Satmar, a larger and more prestigious community, passed away, and Rabbi Teitelbaum was invited for a Shabbos “tryout.” The Rav displayed exceptional knowledge of Talmud, far above the prevailing image of a Chassidic rabbi, who was expected to be more of an expert in Kabbalah and prayer. He was retained by the community, which prospered under his leadership, and began attracting students to its yeshiva from all over Hungary.

As the War approached, the Satmarer Rav was smuggled out of harm’s way, first into Switzerland, where he remained throughout the War, and afterwards in 1946, into Israel. On a fund-raising mission to the United States, he met many people from his former community who urged him to stay in America and help them recover from the trauma of the War. Rabbi Teitelbaum’s decision to stay in America was historic, in that it set in place the foundation for the growth of the Satmar community. After only a short time, the transplanted “Yetiv Lev” Congregation emerged upon American soil, with Rabbi Yoel Teitelbaum at the helm.

In 1948, he drew worldwide attention when he became the only Jewish leader to denounce the newly founded Jewish state. He based his anti-Zionist position on a gemara in Kesuvos 111a, that derives from the triple mention in Shir HaShirim of the verse, “I have bound you in oath, O daughters of Jerusalem,” that HaShem bound the Jewish People and the nations of the world with three oaths:

1. “shelo yaalu bachoma” – that the Jews should not forcibly “breach the wall,” and enter Eretz Yisrael
2. that the Jews should not rebel against the nations of the world
3. that the nations of the world should not oppress the Jewish People excessively during the Exile

The gemara concludes with the threat that if the Jews would violate these oaths, HaShem would bring upon them great harm and physical destruction. Rabbi Teitelbaum claimed that the Zionist movement had brought the Holocaust upon the Jewish People by violating the oaths incumbent upon them.

(Two of the arguments raised against the above are that by the Balfour Declaration the nations of the world gave permission to the Jews to return to Israel. Another is that the oaths would apply to the Jewish People only if the nations of the world did not excessively mistreat them during the Galut. Centuries of massacre and pogrom certainly testify otherwise as to the behavior of the nations of the world. If the nations have violated their oath, the oaths upon the Jewish People are null and void.)

In the 1950’s, the Satmar community continued to blossom. Williamsburg became the scene of many inspiring Chassidic gatherings and public tefilos, such as would occur annually on Hoshanah Rabbah, when the Satmar synagogue was a sea of lulavim and esrogim.

By the 1960’s, the Satmar community in Brooklyn had grown rapidly and the rebbe had gained many new adherents from immigration to the United States, and his opinions and blessings were sought by thousands.

In the 1970’s, the rebbe bought land in Monroe, NY, and founded Kiryas Yoel, where a large branch of the Satmar community now lives.

Tens of thousands of his Chassidim attended his funeral in Kiryat Yoel. None of his children survived him, as all three of his daughters passed away during his lifetime. The Satmar community grieved at the tremendous loss of their rebbe, who had led his followers according to uncompromising principles, in which he deeply believed.


JERUSALEM...As they stood in the square awaiting the arrival of their spiritual leader, several thousand people took up their movement's chant: "We do not recognize the rule of the infidels. We do not accept their laws."

Those who took up the chant were not Arab Islamic fundamentalists. They were ultra-Orthodox Hasidic Jews, members of the Brooklyn-based Satmar movement.

The spiritual leader they were waiting for was Rabbi Moishe Teitelbaum, (the nephew of the deceased Yoel Teitelbaum), the most outspoken foe of Israel in the Jewish world, currently on a two-week visit to the state whose very existence he opposes.

In the Satmar world-view, Israel was born in sin because it was established by secular Jews who were not willing to wait for the Messiah to come and establish the state for them.

It is the lingering echo of an ideological struggle that raged before World War II in the Jewish communities of Eastern Europe, including the Hungarian-Romanian community of Satmar.

For most the struggle ended with the war and the Holocaust, in which 6 million Jews were murdered. In 1948 the overwhelming majority of Jews, whatever their religious persuation, enthusiastically supported the establishment of Israel. But not the Satmar Hasidim. (see Romans 11:4,5)...

Satmar's views are not shared by other Hasidic groups. Many like the Lubavitches, are strongly pro-Israel...

Most Israelis are simply ignoring the rabbi's visit, or look upon it with a kind of amused indifference. There have been no anti-Satmar demonstrations, not even much editorial comment in the nation's newspapers.

"These people are a kind of folkloristic curio," said Ma'ariv editorial writer Yosef Lapid. "By choosing to oppose the most important achievement in modern Jewish history, they have made themselves irrelevant." The New York Daily News, by Andrew Meisels.

The following is taken from Hasidic Williamsburg, A Contemporary American Hasidic Community, by George Kranzler:


"Some people unfamiliar with the underlying ideology of Williamsburg and Boro Park have called these large American hasidic communities reconstructions of the Eastern European 'shtetl' that are bound to vanish with the last survivors of their first and second-generation immigrants.

Superficially, this might seem true, because the Satmar Rebbe and others like him insisted on maintaining the traditional East European garb and similar external trappings of a lifestyle antipathetic to the American environment. (see Daniel 3:19-25). Yet a more profound analysis will show that what the Satmar Rebbe built in Williamsburg, Kiryas Joel, Bnei Brak and other centers of Orthodox Jewish life, is something revolutionary and new. It represents his indomitable will to create a total physical, social, and intellectual milieu that preserves its independence and otherness within the very realities of life in the twentieth century.

IT IS THE METAHISTORICAL EXISTENCE OF THE HERE-AND-NOW LIFESTYLE THAT PRESERVES THE ETERNAL TORAH VALUES while interacting with the non-Jewish environment in a competent and meaningful way...In the ideology of the Satmar Rebbe, spelled out in the elaborate essays of 'Vayoel Mosheh,' these are new, INTRINSICALLY AMERICAN FORMS OF THE MOVABLE 'MISHKAN' (the Sanctuary) AND THE 'MAHANEH YISRAEL' (the Camp of Israel). Their essential function is to preserve the sanctity of the Jewish individual family, and community in any 'midbar' (figurative wilderness) anywhere in the world. The eternal 'Am Yisrael' is guided by the web of divine commandments and guidelines. These apply equally in Williamsburg, Monsey, Eretz Yisrael, or anywhere else at any time in history until the Divine Will decides that the people of Israel are worthy of the ULTIMATE REDEMPTION. (see Jeremiah 30:7-9).

The essential makeup of the 'Mananeh Yisrael' is not variable by time and place or subject to the vagaries of historical, political, social, or economic circumstances and situations. Each country and culture in which Divine Providence has caused the Jewish people to set up their 'tents' on their passage through 2,000 years of exile presents a different challenge and a new chance to rise up to higher levels. This is the sole reason and criterion of the Jewish community in the United States or Eretz Yisrael of today, just as it was in the 'shtetl' of Poland, Hungary, or Russia, and just as it was in the medieval or ancient communities of the Near East and Central, Western, and Eastern Europe.

If language or garments, such as Yiddish or the hasidic garb, historically served to provide barriers against assimilation, they have acquired a measure of sanctity and are therefore cultivated for their own sake, regardless of their historic origin and of the change in the settings in which they emerged...Against the warp and woof of this thoroughly consistent Torah ideology, one must view the achievements of the Satmar Rebbe...

His uncompromising stance, regardless of its unpopularity, was rooted in his belief in the guidance of Divine Providence in all the affairs of the collective as well as the individual life, at any time and anywhere in 'Galut,' now, as in the past and in the future. If it were the Divine Will to prolong the 'Galut' until the coming of 'Moshiah,' the Ultimate Redemption, then no secular or religious movement had the right to intervene or act counter to this basic direction, as pronounced by the prophets since the beginning of the exile. Hence the secular State of Israel, established by secular non-Jewish and Jewish authorities, had no place in the ideology and practical realities of the Satmar Rebbe's world." Hasidic Williamsburg, pp.271-274.

Words of Rabbi Yoel Teitelbaum against Zionist Heresy

The words of the saintly Rabbi Joel Teitelbaum, author of the VAYOEL MOSHE (in Hebrew, written in 1958) ring clearly when we view events in the Middle East:

"...if we place all the immodesty and promiscuity of the generation and the many sins of the world on one side of the scale, and the Zionist state on the other side of the scale by itself, it would outweigh them all. Zionism is the greatest form of spiritual impurity in the entire world. They are polluting the entire world. They have polluted the Jewish people with their heresy, Heaven help us. It is no surprise why G-d's anger comes down from heaven. It is necessary to repent and escape from them more than from a lion who is chasing a person to kill him."

"It has been explained that before the coming of the Messiah this regime will come to an end, as Messiah cannot come any other way, since the Zionist state holds up the redemption of the world. We need G-d's mercies that divine intervention should bring about the end of the state. May G-d have mercy on us all."


"It is clear that anyone who believes in G-d has no doubt that they are from the source of the accursed impurity of heresy, Heaven help us. It is horrible that such a thing arose in our day, and how can we be silent when we see such violations of our faith and the principles of our entire Torah? Especially since so many of our religious brethren fail to speak out about the truth! In such circumstances, the entire truth could be forgotten, G-d forbid."

"Everything our blessed rabbis cried out about earlier in the century about the dangers of Zionism has almost been forgotten! Even my own writings go ignored. THEREFORE, SHOULD THE TRUTH AND FOUNDATIONS OF OUR RELIGION BE FORGOTTEN? It is impossible to describe to what extent the world has become sunken in such a falsehood which is destroying the entire Torah. Therefore we are obliged to cry out before anyone against the deep impurity which has spread out in our generation. Let us hope there are increasing numbers who open up their eyes and the teachings of our forefathers should reach their ears to seek truth and faith. Without this, there is no hope...."

The following are excerpted in the book Gachalei Esh, an anthology ofthe writings of Rabbi Yoel Teitelbaum, of blessed memory in regards tothe Agudah movement, over three decades ago.

All sections of the Agudah go in one direction: To Zionism And even within the party called Agudah there are a number of known groups, but they all lead to the direction of Zionism, from whence is the well of evil and bitter waters of sectarianism and heresy...

Zionism with the Approval of the "Council of Torah Sages

And now that the Agudah has joined with the idolators, the idolators are even more arrogant since they see that everyone is with them. This is because the Agudah operates with the approval of the 'Council of Torah Sages' and the rabbis and rebbes and heads of yeshivas make all their actions kosher.

Walking arm in arm

Anyone with a brain in his head can see that in recent years the Agudah has joined the Zionists arm in arm, but just with different faces.....

All their words (of the Agudah) are empty air

It is impossible to go into all their empty claims, lies, fantasies and falsifications on paper, since there is no limit to their empty words and lies and phoney fantasies. But anyone concerned with the word of G-d sees that all their words are vanity, and totally lacking in content.

They serve the Zionist idolatry with all their hearts

Satan has succeeded in that even some who are called religious have devoted themselves to serving the Zionists with all their hearts, and help them to fulfill their aspirations to mislead and deceive. They totally turn themselves over to idolatry.

They bring Zionism into Synagogues

The religious Zionists bring the rule of the Zionists into the synagogues, where they recite Hallel and Shehechayanu and make fund raising appeals for all the organizations. They know themselves that the money they are collecting, even on the Eve of Yom Kippur goes into places of heresy and destruction of our religion.

Anyone helping the Zionists to bring immigrants to the Holy Land, woe to them and their souls And all the moreso when they come to Eretz Yisrael under the Zionists and fall into their trap, and then pull out of them any faith and Torah. Woe to them and their souls those aiding this and flattering the Zionists. Their sin is great, and rises to heaven.

The claims of the Agudah that they fight Zionism is ridiculous

And how can they say that they fight the Zionists and that their educational system is geared to implant pure faith to fight heresy? Who would be foolish enough to believe that the heretics would give money and weapons to enable others to fight against them? Their whole purpose is to WEAKEN the struggle against them and to implant heresy
into the educational system.

Joining the Agudah is dangerous physically and spiritually

For all those religious people who gives the Zionists support, and have distorted the teachings of the Torah, they shall be held responsible in the next world. One has to run away from them and from joining them as far as is possible. Joining them is a great physical and spiritual danger.

How can anyone join the Agudah who are one with the Zionists?

With regard to your question about joining the Agudah, I am surprised at the question, since it is known that they are one with the Zionists who have destroyed the world and dragged the Jewish people into heresy. Whoever brings the people to join the heretics, G-d forbid to join him or to listen to his instructions Whoever praises the heretics and brings the masses over to the views of the heretics, G-d forbid to join him or to listen to his instructions.