Jew, Bobov of United States


People Group Info

Total Population: 50,000

ROP3 Code: 104243
IMB Affinity Group: North African and Middle Eastern Peoples
Affinity Bloc: Jews
People Cluster: Jews
Language: Eastern Yiddish - (ydd)
Religion: Ethnic Religions - Judaism
Country of Origin: Poland

Status of Christianity


Unengaged and Unreached

GSEC Level: 1

Photo courtesy of Leah Gonzalez.

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Majority Located Where

  New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY - 50,000

Their two rival synagogues are on 45th and 48th Streets in NYC. Because housing in Borough Park is expensive, some Bobovers live in other Hasidic enclaves, such as neighboring Williamsburg and Rockland County’s Monsey in upstate New York.

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Brief Profile

Bobov Jews originated from Poland. They are one of the most peaceful and welcoming of Hasidic groups. Two distinct Bobov groups exist: Bobov 45 and Bobov. Bobov, or Bobover Hasidism, is a Hasidic community within Haredi Judaism originating in Bobowa, Galicia, in Southern Poland, and now headquarted in New York City.

“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. Metro New York is home to the largest Hasidic population in the United States with an estimated 165 thousand people.

The Bobov Hasidim are the third-largest Hasidic group in Metro New York, following the Satmar and the Lubavitcher. The essence of Bobov teaching is shalom or peace. The Bobover are known for their moderation and tolerance, qualities modeled by the first American Bobover rebbe, Shlomo Halberstamm. The Bobover split in 2005 after the death of Rebbe Halberstamm’s son, Naftali. One side claims Naftali’s younger brother is the rightful rebbe, while the others champion his son-in-law.

If a young Bobover man wants to pursue secular studies after the yeshiva, a religious school, the rebbe will not forbid him. This openness, uncommon among other Hasidic groups, has provided the Bobovers with a home-grown crop of professionals that serve the community. Like all Hasidim, Bobovers center their lives on family, community, and worship. They marry young, raise large families, and have defined roles. Women manage the home and children, and men have a few career options, such as rabbinical studies, teaching at the yeshiva, or entering a profession or family business.

Like all Hasidim, the Bobover’s beliefs are centered on studying the Torah and obeying the 613 mitzvot (commandments), laws that cover every aspect of life and include ethical, social, and ritual obligations. At the core of Hasidic belief is the power of prayer—especially the prayers of the rebbe—to obtain miracles typically related to health or business concerns. The Bobover tend to downplay tales of miracles performed by their rebbe, focusing instead on the rebbe’s holiness and wisdom. Bobover Jews are friendly with all Hasids. They do not take a political stand on Israel, unlike the Lubavitch and Satmar, who disagree vehemently on the subject.

Prayer Points

  • Pray that Christians will be aware of the existence of this people group.
  • The Bobover seek shalom 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 Bobov Jews will come in contact with evangelical Christians who will reveal Christ to them both in deed and word.

Resources

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StatusCountry City Metro Area Name State / Prov. Baseline Population
United StatesBrooklynNew York-Newark-Jersey CityNY50,000