Vurka Hasidim

Vurka Hasidim (Yiddish: Vurke chasidim) – Hasidic dynasty founded by Israel Yitzhak Kalish (1779–1848). Influenced by the tzaddik of Lelov, Dovid Biedermann, Kalish became a proponent of Hasidism and became a disciple of Yaakov Yitzchak HaLevi Horowitz of Lublin, and later of Simcha Bunim of Peshischa (Przysucha).

After Bunim’s death, Kalish settled in Przysucha in 1829 and became the leader of a group of local Hasidim. He then moved his seat to Warka near Warsaw, where his following grew. Some of his most prominent disciples were Yaakov Aryeh Guterman (1792–1874), who later became a tzaddik in Radzymin, as well as Dov Ber of Biala (Biała Rawska) and Yechiel Danziger of Aleksander (Aleksandrów).

Together with Tzaddik Yitzhak Alter of Ger (Góra Kalwaria), he was involved in the struggle against the tsarist “cantonist decrees” and against the regulations forbidding Jews in the Kingdom of Poland from wearing their traditional garb. His disciples later preserved his teachings in writing. Kalish’s oldest son, Yaakov Dovid, founded the Amshinov Hasidic dynasty in Mszczonów, while his youngest offspring, Menachem Mendel (1819–1868), succeeded him in Warka. Menachem Mendel was called the “silent tzaddik” because he saw the virtue of silence as a form of prayer. He preached that man has three qualities: “straight posture, silent weeping, and motionless dancing.” He emphasised the importance of seeking to understand other people. He referred to it as Ahavat Israel (Hebrew: “Love of the Jewish Nation”). His successor was his son Simcha Bunim (1851–1907), who settled in Otwock near Warsaw. After him, the leadership over the Vurka community was taken over by Menachem’s grandson, Menachem Mendel of Marszynów (1860–1918), who moved his seat to Warsaw during World War I.

Alina Cała, Hanna Węgrzynek

The entry was originally published on the Diapozytyw portal, previously owned by the Adam Mickiewicz Institute. It is an excerpt from the book Historia i kultura Żydów polskich. Słownik by Alina Cała, Hanna Węgrzynek, and Gabriela Zalewska, published by the WSiP.

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