The Gerer - full name: Kotsk-Ger - sect of Hasidic Judaism was founded in 1859 in the town of Gora Kalwaria, Poland- known to the Jews as "Gur". The first Gerer Rebbe was Rabbi Itzchok Meir Alter (1789-1866), the author of Hidushey haRim ("Insights of R.I.M."). Rabbi Itzchok was known as the emperor of Polish Hasidism, and the town hosted many pilgrims to his court.

The most famous of the series of Gerer Rebbies was Rabbi Yehudah Leib Alter of Gur (1847-1905), author of the Sfas Emes, a collection of Biblical homilies. This book established the tenets of Gerer philosophy, in which God's Inner Light is concealed by his own Tzimzum (reduction) and the outer trappings of Teva (nature), and a Jew's mission is to separate himself from the natural world so that God's spirit can once again flow into it.

In 1940, the Gerer Rebbe Mordecai Abraham Alter fled to Palestine, and reestablished his community in the Mea Shearim section of Jerusalem. There are also Gerer communities in Bnei Brak, Israel and Borough Park, Brooklyn. The current Gerer Rebbe is Rabbi Yaacov Alter. He wields not a little power in Israel, as the Gerer Rebbe traditionally holds the chairmanship of Agudat Yisrael's Council of Torah Sages, an Orthodox political party which decides issues of policy and representation.

Gerer garb varies from the typical Hasidic one in that the shtreimel, or fur hat, is of the spudik, or "tall" variety.

...Back to Hasidic sects