Yitzchak Meir Alter

Yitzchak Meir Alter
Gerrer Rebbe
Full name Yitzchak Meir Rotenberg-Alter
Main work Chiddushei Harim
Born 1799
Magnuszew, New East Prussia, Prussia
Died 10 March 1866(1866-03-10) (aged 66–67)
Buried Góra Kalwaria, Poland
Dynasty Ger
Predecessor none
Successor Chanokh Heynekh HaKohen Levin of Aleksander
Wife Feigele Lipszyc
Children Avraham Mordechai
Cyna Pesia
Leah Hudes
Preserved part of the Jewish House of Religious Studies and Prayer at 57 Żelazna Street in Warsaw which housed the Yitzchak Meir Alter synagogue

Yitzchak Meir Rotenberg-Alter (Polish: Icchak Meir Rothenberg Alter, Hebrew יצחק מאיר אלתר, 1799 – 10 March 1866), was the first Rebbe of the Ger Hasidic dynasty, which he founded in the town of Góra Kalwaria (known as "Ger" in Yiddish), Poland. He headed the Kupath Rabbi Meir Baal Haness Kollel Polen (Poland) Varsha (Warsaw) (Hebrew קופת רמבעה"ן כולל פולין ורשה / וארשא). He was also known as The Chiddushei HaRim (החדושי הרי"ם) for his Torah writngs, and was sometimes fondly called Reb Itche Meir (Yiddish) by his followers.

Early life

Rabbi Alter was born in Magnuszew, Poland, in late 1799. He came from a very distinguished family of rabbis, among the most prominent in Germany and Poland. He was a descendant of Rashi and of the Tosafist, Rabbi Meir ben Baruch of Rothenburg.

He married Feigele Lipszyc, daughter of Moshe 'Halfon' Lipszyc, in 1811, and settled in Warsaw. They had fourteen children, according to most published sources, most of whom died in infancy.

Rabbi Alter became known as a Talmudic gaon. At first he was close to the rebbes of Kozhnitz. After some years, he was drawn to Rebbe Simcha Bunim of Prshischa, whose close adherent he became. After the demise of Simcha Bunim, Alter became a disciple of Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Kotzk, also known as the Kotzker Rebbe, who was famous for his acerbic wit and Talmudic brilliance. He was soon followed by a large number of Simcha Bunim's followers. Alter and the Kotzer Rebbe eventually became brothers-in-law, when the latter married Chaya Lipszyc, the sister of Alter's wife Feigele.

In 1830 he was forced to change his name to Alter because of his support towards the Poles during the November Uprising.

Rabbi Alter was succeeded as the Rebbe of the Ger hasidim by his colleague and disciple, Rabbi Chanoch Henoch of Aleksander.

One of his sons, Avraham Mordechai, and three daughters, Cyna Pesia, Leah Hudes, and Esther, survived to adulthood and married. However, by the time of Alter's death on 23 Adar 5626 (1866), only one child (Esther) remained alive.


Rabbi Alter is still well known for his talmudic commentary, though he wrote on many other areas. Extant published works are:

Rebbes of Ger

  1. Yitzchak Meir Rotenberg-Alter (1799–1866)
  2. Chanoch Henoch of Aleksander (1798–1870)
  3. Yehudah Aryeh Leib Alter (1847–1905)
  4. Avraham Mordechai Alter (1866–1948)
  5. Yisrael Alter (1895–1977)
  6. Simcha Bunim Alter (1898–1992)
  7. Pinchas Menachem Alter (1926–1996)
  8. Yaakov Aryeh Alter (b. 1939)


Jewish titles
Preceded by
Gerrer Rebbe
Succeeded by
Chanokh Heynekh HaKohen Levin
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