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Jacob Israel Twerski

TWERSKI, JACOB ISRAEL (1899–1973), U.S. ḥasidic rabbi. Twerski, a descendant of a long line of famous ḥasidic rabbis, was born in Hornistopoli, near Kiev, Russia. In accordance with time-honored ḥasidic tradition, he was pledged in marriage at the age of 11 to his future wife, who was then aged 10, the actual marriage taking place in 1922. He immigrated to the United States in 1927, and after serving congregations in various parts of New York, settled in Milwaukee, where in 1939 he founded Congregation Beth Yehudah, whose spiritual leader he remained until his death. For Jews in Milwaukee and throughout Wisconsin, Twerski was a counselor and friend to whom people turned for guidance and arbitration. Following the family tradition, all his five sons were ordained as rabbis, but only one of them, Michael, officiated as such, succeeding his father on his death. Of the other sons, Shlomo became a research scholar in Talmud at Denver; Abraham was clinical director at St. Francis Psychiatric Hospital, Pittsburgh; Aaron served as a law professor at Hofstra University in Hempsted, N.Y.; while Motel (Mordecai) became a certified public accountant in Brooklyn, N.Y.

Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2007 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.