Hasidic sects are groups of Hasidic Jews led by a single Rabbi, who himself is usually a member of a hundreds-year old dynasty, usually named for a town in Eastern Europe. Grand Rabbis can often trace their scholarly, if not genetic, lineage to the Magid of Meseritz, the primary student of the Baal Shem Tov. Members of Hasidic sects often live together in their own neighborhoods, pray together in their own synagogues, and learn together in their own yeshivas. Sometimes a sect will have unique variations (“manhagim”) on religious rituals. Very devoted individuals- the word “Hasid” itself means “pious”- will attend their sect’s Rabbi’s tisch (meal/table) on Sabbath and holidays, or request audiences at which to ask him for blessings and advice.
There are currently an estimated 250,000 Hasidim worldwide. What follows is a list of the major Hasidic sects still extant. Some sects (Chernobyler Hasidim? I shit thee not) no longer exist. Can you guess which one isn’t named for a town in Europe?
To be continue …