Historic Gerrer Hasidic Wedding - 2004 - חתונה בחסידות גור - תשס״ד







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Ger, or Gur (or Gerrer when used as an adjective) is a Hasidic dynasty originating from Ger, the Yiddish name of Góra Kalwaria, a small town in Poland. The founder of the dynasty was Rabbi Yitzchak Meir Alter (1798–1866), known as the Chiddushei HaRim after his primary scholarly work by that title.

Prior to the Holocaust, followers of Ger were estimated to numbered in excess of 200,000, making it one of the largest and most influential Hasidic groups in Poland. Today the movement is based in Jerusalem and its membership is estimated at 13,000 families, most of whom live in Israel, making the largest Hasidic dynasty in Israel. However, there are also well established Ger communities in Brooklyn NY, Toronto Canada, Los Angeles CA and London UK.

Almost all Gerrer Hasidim living in pre-war Europe (approximately 200,000 Hasidim) were murdered by the Nazis in the Holocaust. Rabbi Avraham Mordechai Alter, who managed to escape, set about the task of rebuilding the movement in the British Mandate of Palestine.

Under its post-war leaders, the movement began to flourish again. Presently, on major occasions such as Shavuos, more than 12,000 Hasidim may gather in the main Gerrer beth midrash.

Large communities of Gerrer Hasidim exist in Israel in Ashdod, Bnei Brak, Jerusalem, and Tel Aviv, as well as in New York, Lakewood, New Jersey, Los Angeles, London, Antwerp, Zurich and Toronto. Several satellite communities have also been established in small towns in Israel, such as Arad in the Negev desert, Hatzor HaGlilit in the Galilee, Kiryat HaRim Levin in Tel Aviv, Beit Shemesh and Kiryat Gat.

Ger maintains a well-developed educational network of Talmud Torahs, yeshivas, and kollels, as well as Beis Yaakov schools for girls. Its leaders dominate the Agudat Israel religious movement and political party in Israel.

The men are distinguished by their dark hasidic garb, and by their pants tucked into their socks called hoyzn-zokn (not to be confused with the breeches, called halber-hoyzn, worn by some other hasidic groups). They wear a round felt hat, and a high, almost-pointed kapel. On Shabbos and Jewish holidays, married men wear the high circular fur hat of the Polish Hasidim, called a spodik by Galitzyaners (not to be confused with the much flatter shtreimel worn by married men in Hasidic groups which do not hail from Congress Poland).

Ger follows the way of the Kotzker Rebbe in stressing service of God in a sharp and objective way, as opposed to the mystical and spiritual orientation of other Hasidic groups. Ger also places much emphasis on Talmud study. During both Friday night and Shabbos morning services, worshipers take a break — usually one hour long — which is devoted to Torah study.

Hebrew is spoken, unlike other Hasidic movements where Yiddish is used.

Ger Hasidut produced one of the most prolific composers of Jewish liturgical music of all time, Yankel Talmud (1885-1965). Known as "the Beethoven of the Gerrer Rebbes", Talmud composed dozens of new melodies every year for the prayer services, including marches, waltzes, and dance tunes. Though he had no musical training and could not even read music, Talmud composed over 1,500 melodies,most of them sung by him and his choir in the main Ger synagogue in Poland and in Israel. Many of Talmud's compositions are still widely sung today, including his rousing "Shir Hamaalos" march tune, performed at many weddings, and "Lo Sevoshi", sung in Hasidic shtiebels

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