Yaakov Perlow

Grand Rabbi Yaakov Perlow
Novominsker Rebbe
Position Rosh yeshiva
Yeshiva Yeshivas Novominsk Kol Yehuda
Position President
Organisation Agudath Israel of America
Began December 1998
Predecessor Rabbi Moshe Sherer
Other Head of Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah (Council of Torah Sages)
Personal details
Birth name Yaakov Perlow
Born 1931 (age 8485)
Brooklyn, New York
Nationality United States
Residence Brooklyn, New York
Dynasty Novominsk (Hasidic dynasty)
Father Rabbi Nochum Mordechai Perlow
Mother Beila Rochma Morgenstern
Alma mater Yeshiva Rabbi Chaim Berlin
Beth Medrash Govoha

Yaakov Perlow (born 1931) is an American-born Hasidic rabbi and rosh yeshiva, and Rebbe of the Novominsker Hasidic dynasty. Since 1998 he has been president of Agudath Israel of America, a Haredi advocacy organization. He is also the head of the Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah (Council of Torah Sages) of Agudath Israel of America. He is one of the most respected leaders of the American Orthodox community.[1]

Family background

Yaakov Perlow was born in Brooklyn, New York, to Rabbi Nochum Mordechai Perlow (1887-1976), the Novominsker Rebbe, and his wife, Beila Rochma Morgenstern. He was named after his great-grandfather, Rabbi Yaakov Perlow, the first Novominsker Rebbe.[2] His maternal grandfather was Rabbi Yitzchak Zelig Morgenstern (1864-1939),[3] the Sokolover Rebbe, a direct descendant of Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Kotzk.[4] Morgernstern was one of the main founders of Agudath Israel in Poland.[2][5]

Education and career

Perlow began his Torah education at Yeshiva Toras Chaim in East New York, and continued on to the Lithuanian-type yeshivas of Beila Rochma Morgenstern in Brooklyn and Beth Medrash Govoha in Lakewood, New Jersey.[6][7] He also graduated with honors from Brooklyn College.[7][8]

He subsequently taught at Hebrew Theological College in Skokie, Illinois.[6] From there, he was appointed rosh yeshiva at the Breuer's yeshiva, Yeshiva Rabbi Samson Rafael Hirsch, in Washington Heights, New York,[9] and established a synagogue continuing the Novominsker Hasidic movement. In 1981[9] he resigned his position at the Breuer's yeshiva to establish and devote himself to his own yeshiva, Yeshivas Novominsk Kol Yehuda, in Borough Park, Brooklyn.

Agudath Israel of America

In December 1998 Perlow was named president of the Agudath Israel of America organization, succeeding Rabbi Moshe Sherer, who had died seven months earlier.[5] With his appointment, the presidential and leadership duties held by Sherer were divided between Perlow, the new president, and a three-man executive.[5] Perlow is also the head of the organization's Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah (Council of Torah Sages).

Perlow frequently speaks out on issues affecting the American Orthodox Jewish world, including Internet usage,[1] child abuse,[10] Holocaust denial,[11] overpriced Haredi weddings,[12] and even U.S. politics.[13] In 2015 Perlow shocked attendees at the 93rd annual Agudath Israel of America dinner by directly appealing to President Obama to reconsider the Iran deal.[14]

Unafraid to state his position, he is seen as a controversial figure by non-Orthodox Jewish groups in light of his comments about heretodox Jewish movements. While he consistently calls for increased dialogue and rapprochement with non-Orthodox Jews, he couples that with condemnation of the non-Orthodox movements themselves. For example, at the 73rd annual Agudah convention in 1995, he urged dialogue with non-Orthodox Jews while at the same time "lashing out at what he described as the 'false ideology' of non-Orthodox Judaism".[15] In June 1999 he wrote in The Jewish Observer that it was time for a rapprochement in the long-standing feud between the Haredi and Reform movements.[16][17] At the May 2014 Agudath dinner, he stated that the Reform and Conservative movements "have disintegrated themselves, become oblivious, fallen into an abyss of intermarriage and assimilation. They will be relegated to the dustbins of Jewish history".[18][19] He followed that assessment by branding another movement, Open Orthodoxy, as being "steeped in apikorsos" (heresy).[20] While New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio was the next speaker at the dinner, he did not challenge Perlow's remarks, which cast aspersions on the affiliations of the largely non-Orthodox Jewish population of New York City.[18][21]



  1. 1 2 Rawls, Oren (5 December 2003). "In Other Words". The Forward. Retrieved 25 August 2016. 'The Internet, with the flick of a button, invades a Jewish home, a Jewish soul, and makes moral disaster. And it is happening all the time', warns the highly-respected Rabbi Yaakov Perlow in The Jewish Observer, the house organ of the organization he heads, Agudath Israel of America.
  2. 1 2 "Today's Yahrtzeits and History – 9 Elul". matzav.com. 24 August 2015. Retrieved 25 August 2016.
  3. "Hilula and Yarzeit for the Hebrew Month of Mar Cheshvan". Yesh Shem. 2016. Retrieved 25 August 2016.
  4. Markusz, Katarzyna. "Zapomniany rabin" [Forgotten Rabbi] (in Polish). poznan.jewish.org.pl. Retrieved 25 August 2016.
  5. 1 2 3 "Novominsker Rebbe Emerges as New Sage of Aguda: Perlow Assumes Mantle". The Forward. 4 December 1998. Retrieved 25 August 2016 via HighBeam. (subscription required (help)).
  6. 1 2 "Interviews conducted by Professor William Helmreich with various Roshei Yeshiva Helmreich with various Roshei Yeshiva" (PDF). Stevens Institute of Technology. 28 December 1977. pp. 10–20. Retrieved 25 August 2016.
  7. 1 2 Helmreich 2000, p. 369.
  8. Heilman 1995, p. 326.
  9. 1 2 "The Kehilla – A Brief Historical Overview". K'hal Adath Jeshurun. 2016. Retrieved 25 August 2016.
  10. "Call to Action". Yated Ne'eman. 22 June 2016. Retrieved 26 August 2016. The Novominsker Rebbe, Rav Yaakov Perlow, issued a call for action in response to the festering scourge of child abuse and molestation.
  11. Sitrit, Gavriel (6 January 2016). "Novominsker Rebbe Condemns Holocaust Comments of Rabbi on Video Publicized by Matzav.com". matzav.com. Retrieved 26 August 2016. I condemn in the strongest terms possible the outrageous claim that fewer than a million halachic Jews were killed in the Holocaust.
  12. Cohen, Debra Nussbaum (7 December 2001). "Waiter, Hold The Knishes: Agudah urges cutting back on pricey weddings". The Jewish Week. Retrieved 26 August 2016 via HighBeam. (subscription required (help)). These rabbis, led by Yaakov Perlow, the chief religious authority of the fervently Orthodox organization Agudath Israel of America, are leading a charge to change the communal culture around frum weddings, where even families of moderate means feel social pressure to invite upward of 1,000 people and serve them food from lavish smorgasbords set with everything from intricate ice sculptures to glatt kosher prime rib carving stations.
  13. Runyan, Joshua (9 September 2004). "Senator Presses for 2004, Before Focusing on Own Ambition". The Jewish Exponent. Retrieved 26 August 2016 via HighBeam. (subscription required (help)). [Rick] Santorum and first-term Sen. Norm Coleman (R-Minn.) sat with Orthodox leaders during a closed-door meeting at Yeshivas Novominsk Kol Yehuda. After the meeting, Santorum said that he took to heart a message delivered to him by the Novominsker Rebbe, Rabbi Yaakov Perlow, and that he would try to incorporate that message into his convention address. "I won't have time to mention my visit, but I will have the time to transmit the words of the rebbe upstairs, the importance of faith communities and making sure those communities can transmit their faith," he said.
  14. "Novominsker Rebbe Issues Direct Plea to President Obama at Agudath Israel Dinner". Yeshiva World News. 12 May 2015. Retrieved 26 August 2016.
  15. "Agudath Israel Leader Calls for Dialogue As He Lashes Out". JTA. 28 November 1995. Retrieved 26 August 2016.
  16. Ferziger 2015, pp. 136-139.
  17. "Perlow's Progress". The Forward. 8 January 1999. Retrieved 26 August 2016 via HighBeam. (subscription required (help)).
  18. 1 2 Powell, Michael (28 May 2014). "At a Jewish Gala, de Blasio Skips His Cue to Speak Out". The New York Times. Retrieved 26 August 2016.
  19. Lebens, Dr. Samuel (9 June 2014). "Fair Criticism, Flawed Justification: Where Rabbi Perlow Went Wrong". Haaretz. Retrieved 26 August 2016.
  20. Nathan-Kazis, Josh (28 May 2014). "Orthodox Rabbi Stuns Agudath Gala With 'Heresy' Attack on Open Orthodoxy". The Forward. Retrieved 25 August 2016.
  21. Barkan, Ross (30 May 2014). "Bill de Blasio Furiously Refuses to Denounce Rabbi Tirade". New York Observer. Retrieved 26 August 2016.
  22. "Words of Wisdom: In Churches, Mosques, Synagogues and at Prayer Services around the Country and the World, Men and Women of God Struggled to Find – And Share – Their Faith". Newsweek. 27 September 2001. Retrieved 26 August 2016 via HighBeam. (subscription required (help)).


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