The Gerrer Jews, also known and the Ger or Gur, are a Hasidic people 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.
“If I were a rich man [....] I’d discuss the holy books with the learned men, several hours every day. That would be the sweetest thing of all!” sang the character Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof. Tevye’s song aptly illustrates a problem with Orthodox Judaism’s emphasis
on study of the Torah (Jewish Scriptures) as the best way to grow closer to God — most Jews did not have the means or time for such in-depth scholarship.
In late eighteenth century Eastern Europe, a movement called Hasidism arose to challenge this tradition. Hasidim, which means “pious ones” in Hebrew, teach that prayer, mystical experiences, and joyful worship with singing and dancing are equally valid ways of drawing closer to God.
Over the centuries, Hasidic Judaism has broken into numerous movements called “courts,” each led by a rebbe, a spiritual leader revered for his holiness and wisdom.
Prior to the Holocaust, followers of Ger were estimated to number in excess of 100,000, making it 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 Ger the largest Hasidic dynasty in Israel. However, there are also well-established Ger communities in Brooklyn (New York) and London (UK); and minor Ger communities in Toronto, Ontario (Canada), and Los Angeles.
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 men in some other Hasidic groups). They wear a round felt hat, and a high, almost-pointed kapel. They raise their sidelocks from the temples, and tuck them under the yarmulke, nearly hiding them.
Pray that Christians will be aware of the existence of this people group and intentionally form friendships with Gerrer Jews.
The Gerrer Jews will find shalom (peace) in their lives, a word that signifies being “complete, perfect, and full.” Pray that they would recognize Christ as Messiah and Sar Shalom, the Prince of Peace.
Pray that the Gerrer Jews will come in contact with evangelical Christians who will reveal Christ to them both in deed and word.
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