Chasidism

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Stratin Hasidic Dynasty

Line of Hasidic leaders, active in eastern Galicia from the 1820s until the Holocaust. Some of the dynasty’s offshoots reached Israel, the United States, and Canada. The founder, Yehudah Tsevi Brandwein (ca. 1780–1844), a ritual slaughterer from the village of Stratin, succeeded his teacher, Uri of Strelisk (1757–1826), and was considered to be a leading tsadik of his time. Brandwein’s name appears in a list of prominent tsadikim appended to a report on the Hasidic movement in Galicia, written in 1838 by Lemberg’s chief of police. After Brandwein’s death, most of his Hasidim followed his eldest son, Avraham (ca. 1805–1865), who succeeded him in Stratin; a minority preferred another son, Eli‘ezer (ca. 1810–1865), who established a court at Azipolia. A dispute between Avraham and his brothers over the ownership of the bet midrash in Stratin escalated after Avraham’s death, when his son-in-law, Uri Langner of Rohatyn (ca. 1820–1889), laid claim to his position. The dispute was brought before Ḥayim of Sandz, who sided with Langner and ruled, contrary to the dynastic principle then universally accepted in the Hasidic movement, that Hasidic leadership is not necessarily hereditary but should be determined by personal qualifications. In the following generations, Stratin Hasidim split into several branches. The most important was founded by Langner’s son, Yehudah Tsevi of Stratin (ca. 1845–1907); his five sons also became tsadikim. Some of them and their descendants emigrated to Toronto and New York; others died before or during the Holocaust. Another branch of Stratin Hasidism is associated with the Olik dynasty. Aharon Landau of Felshtyn (ca. 1842–1906), great-grandson of the founder of the dynasty, Tsevi Aryeh of Olik, married Avraham of Stratin’s daughter and took the name Brandwein. Some adherents of this branch went to the Land of Israel, the others to the United States. Only a few of Eli‘ezer of Azipolia’s descendants became tsadikim, serving in Azipolia, Burstein, and Stanisławów. Most of them died, or were killed during the Holocaust; a small number reached Palestine. It is not clear whether Shemu’el Zanvil (ca. 1815–1887), Yehudah Tsevi’s third son, ever served as a tsadik, and the same is true with respect to his descendants. Shemu’el’s grandson, Eli‘ezer Brandwein, published She’erit Yehudah: Derekh ḥayim tokhaḥat musar (1909) and Degel maḥaneh Yehudah (1912), which are major sources of Hasidic teachings, customs, and biographical or legendary traditions about some tsadikim of the dynasty. Stratin Hasidim were notable for their ecstatic religious devotion, expressed mainly in their lengthy, highly vocal, and fervent prayer. The dynasty was also known to follow the tradition of simplicity and frugality associated with Strelisk Hasidim, in contrast to the lavish Hasidic courts of the Ruzhin type.

Suggested Reading

David Assaf, The Regal Way: The Life and Times of Rabbi Israel of Ruzhin, trans. David Louvish

(Stanford, Calif., 2002), pp. 53–54; Raphael Mahler, Hasidism and the Jewish Enlightenment: Their

Confrontation in Galicia and Poland in the First Half of the Nineteenth Century (Philadelphia, 1985),

pp. 99–101; Yizhak Raphael, ‘Al ḥasidut ve-ḥasidim (Jerusalem, 1991), pp. 245–247.

Author Gad Sagiv

Translated from Hebrew by David Louvish Major Hasidic courts, 1815–1929. (Based on a map prepared for the exhibition "Time of the Hasidism." by Elżbieta Długosz, The Historical Museum of Kraków—Old Synagogue)