||Full letter in the Rebbe's hand. R. Joel(ish) Teitelbaum of Satmar (Satmar Rebbe, 18881979), son of R. Hananiah Yom Tov Lipa Teitelbaum. As a child he was renowned for his sharp tongue and brilliant analytical skills. At 17 he married the daughter of R. Abraham Hayyim Halberstam, the Plantcher Rav. She died in the 1920s and after a couple of years he remarried to Reb. Alte Faige nee Shapiro. He had three daughters from his first marriage: Esther, Rachel and Roysele. They all died in his lifetime: Esther died during childhood; Rachel died 6 months after she married her first cousin, R. Zalmen Leib Teitelbaum, the Rav of Sighet; and Roysele, who married R. Lipa Teitelbaum, the Semihaya Rav, (and the only of his children to survive the holocaust) died during pregnancy in 1953 in the USA. His second wife did not bear him any children. The Rebbe was not survived by any living descendants.
During the 1920s the Rebbe served as the rabbi of Krole (Nagykaroly or Carei) near Satmar (Satu-Mare). In 1928 he was invited to become the rabbi of Satmar but vigorous opposition to his appointment led to bitter fighting and he was unable to take up his position until 1934. He became involved there in fierce controversies with both Zionist circles and Hasidim attached to other zadikim, who violently opposed him.
During the Holocaust, in 1944, the Rebbe was saved in the rescue train arranged through R. R. Kasztner, as a result of a deal between a Hungarian Zionist official, Rudolph Kastner, and a deputy of Adolf Eichmann. Although Kastner intended to rescue only Hungarian Zionists on a special train bound for Switzerland, the Rebbe and a few other religious Jews were also given seats. (Some of the Rebbe's followers believe it was the result of a dream in which Kastner's father-in-law was informed by his late mother that if the Rebbe was not included on the train, none of the passengers would survive.) En route, the train was re-routed by the Germans to Bergen-Belsen, where the 1600 passengers languished for four months while awaiting further negotiations between rescue activists and the Nazi leadership. In the end the train was released and continued on to Switzerland.
The Rebbe briefly lived in Jerusalem after World War II. In 1947 he settled in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, New York, which became the center of his Hasidic congregation that continued the way of life of a Hasidic town in Hungary. In 1953 he became rabbi of the ultra-Orthodox Neturei Karta community in Jerusalem, although he remained in New York and only visited Israel every few years.
The Rebbe continued to be one of the most vigorous opponents of Zionism and the State of Israel, and engaged in intensive activity against the latter both in Israel and abroad, in his writings and sermons, and by demonstrations. While his opposition to Zionism and the State of Israel was based on halakhic grounds, most of which had been raised from the beginning of the Zionist movement, he added objections to the way of life and the social and political order in Israel, which in his opinion contradict the principles of halakhah.
R. Teitelbaum's works include collections of responsa and novelae (scholarly contributions to Talmudic debates) entitled Divrei Yoel and Al HaGeulah V'Al HaTemurah this was written with the help of the late R. N.Y. Meisels. He also authored a brief introduction to the Talmudic tractate Shabbos for a Holocaust-era printing in Romania. His exposition of his belief that Zionism is prohibited by Halakha ("Jewish law") is entitled VaYoel Moshe. There are also collections of his speeches entitled, Hidushei Torah MHR"I Teitelbaum.
An eminent and erudite scholar, the Rebbe combined extreme fanaticism with a forceful personality. His integrity and holiness attracted hundreds of thousands of disciples. The Rebbe exercised complete authority over them. His counsel was sought by thousands, his blessing was considered a done deal. Always with a smile or a sharp word, his piety was revered by all. Upon his passing he was buried in Kiryat Joel, the village he founded in upstate New York. Thousands visit his grave-site to seek his intervention in the heavenly domains.