Yaakov Perlow

Yaakov Perlow (Yiddish: יעקבֿ פּערלאָווHebrew: יעקב פרלוב‎‎; November 16, 1930 – April 7, 2020) was an American Hasidic rabbi and rosh yeshiva, and Rebbe of the Novominsk Hasidic dynasty. From 1998 until his death in 2020, he was president of Agudath Israel of America, a Haredi advocacy organization. He was also head of that organization's Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah (Council of Torah Sages). He was one of the most respected leaders of the American Orthodox Jewish community, known for his scholarly and oratorical skills.[1][2]

Grand Rabbi

Rav Yaakov Perlow
הרב מנובומינסק.jpg
TitleNovominsker Rebbe
Born(1930-11-16)November 16, 1930
DiedApril 7, 2020(2020-04-07) (aged 89)
Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
NationalityUnited States
SpouseYehudis (Eichenstein) Perlow, Miriam (Eichenstien-Londinski) Perlow
ChildrenGrand Rabbi Yehoshua Heshel Perlow, Grand Rabbi Yisroel Perlow, Mrs.Faigie Horowitz, Mrs. Sara Chana Treiger
  • Rabbi Nochum Mordechai Perlow (father)
  • Beila Rochma Morgenstern (mother)
Alma materYeshiva Rabbi Chaim Berlin
Jewish leader
PredecessorRabbi Moshe Sherer
PositionRosh yeshiva
YeshivaYeshivas Novominsk Kol Yehuda
OrganisationAgudath Israel of America
BeganDecember 1998
OtherHead of Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah (Council of Torah Sages)
Yahrtzeit13, Nissan
BuriedMount Lebanon Cemetery
ResidenceBrooklyn, New York

Early life and educationEdit

Yaakov Perlow was born in Brooklyn, New York,[1][3] to Rabbi Nochum Mordechai Perlow (1887–1976), the Novominsker Rebbe, and his wife, Beila Rochma Morgenstern.[4] He was named after his paternal great-grandfather, the Shufra D'Yaakov, founder of the Novominsk Hasidic dynasty.[1][2] His maternal grandfather was Rabbi Yitzchak Zelig Morgenstern, the Sokolover Rebbe, a direct descendant of Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Kotzk.[2][5] Morgenstern was one of the main founders of Agudath Israel in Poland.[4][6]

Perlow began his Torah education at Yeshiva Toras Chaim in East New York, Brooklyn, and continued on to the Lithuanian-type Yeshiva Rabbi Chaim Berlin in Brooklyn,[1][7][8] and then Beth Medrash Govoha in Lakewood.[3] He also graduated with honors from Brooklyn College.[8][9]


After his marriage, Perlow taught at Hebrew Theological College in Skokie, Illinois.[1][7] He later moved back to Brooklyn and settled in Crown Heights, becoming a member of the administration of the mesivta of Yeshiva Rabbi Chaim Berlin.[1] In 1969, he was appointed rosh yeshiva at the Breuer's yeshiva, Yeshiva Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch, in Washington Heights, New York, a position he held for 11 years.[1] He also served as the Rav of Congregation Bais Yosef in that city.[1]

After the death of his father on September 4, 1976, Perlow began serving as Novominsker Rebbe.[1] In 1980, he established the Novominsk Hasidic Center and founded his own yeshiva, Yeshivas Novominsk Kol Yehuda, named in memory of his uncle, Rabbi Yehuda Aryeh Perlow of Novominsk-Williamsburg, in Borough Park, Brooklyn.[1][2]

Agudath Israel of AmericaEdit

Perlow became an active member of Agudath Israel of America from 1975, when he was one of the main speakers at the 7th Siyum HaShas in New York.[1] He became a leader of the Torah Umesorah organization as well.[1] In December 1998, Perlow was named president of Agudath Israel of America, succeeding Rabbi Moshe Sherer, who had died seven months earlier.[1][6] With his appointment, the presidential and leadership duties held by Sherer were divided between Perlow, the new president, and a three-man executive.[6] Perlow was also head of the organization's Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah (Council of Torah Sages).[10]

Perlow frequently spoke out on issues affecting the American Orthodox Jewish world, including Internet usage,[11] child abuse,[12] Holocaust denial,[13] overpriced Jewish weddings,[14] and U.S. politics.[15] In 2015, Perlow shocked attendees at the 93rd annual Agudath Israel of America dinner by directly appealing to President Obama to reconsider the Iran deal.[16]

At the 73rd annual Agudah convention in 1995, Perlow urged dialogue with non-Orthodox Jews while at the same time "lashing out at what he described as the 'false ideology' of non-Orthodox Judaism."[17] In June 1999, he wrote in The Jewish Observer in support of a rapprochement in the long-standing feud between the Haredi and Reform movements.[18][19] At the May 2014 Agudath dinner, he stated that the Reform and Conservative movements "have disintegrated themselves, become oblivious, fallen into an abyss of intermarriage and assimilation",[20][21] and branded another movement, Open Orthodoxy, as being "steeped in apikorsos (heresy)".[22] While New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio was the next speaker at the dinner, he did not challenge Perlow's remarks, which cast aspersions on the affiliations of the non-Orthodox Jewish population of New York City.[20][23]

Personal lifeEdit

Perlow's first wife, Yehudis (d. 1998), was the daughter of Grand Rabbi Avrohom Eichenstein of Zidichov-Chicago.[1] The couple had two sons and two daughters.[1] In 2004, Perlow remarried to Miriam Landynski, his first wife's sister and widow of Rabbi Yaakov Zev Landynski.[1]


In March 2020, Perlow urged American Orthodox Jews to follow social distancing and other precautionary guidelines in response to the coronavirus outbreak, saying: "We cannot behave the way we did last week or two weeks ago. We're told that the halakha (Jewish law) is that we must listen to doctors, whether it's about a sick person or Yom Kippur".[10][24] He was soon after infected by COVID-19. On April 7, 2020, he died due to complications from the disease. He was 89.[2][25] His funeral was held in a private ceremony. The eulogies and saying of Psalms were broadcast live over the telephone, in order to limit the spread of the virus.[2] After his burial, his twin sons were named his successors as Rebbes of the Novominsk dynasty. The elder of the two, Rabbi Yehoshua Heshel "Reb Shia" currently leads his father's synagogue in Borough Park, while Rabbi Alter Yisroel Shimon "Reb Yisruel" leads the Novominsk shteeble in Lakewood, New Jersey. The two Rebbes lead Yeshivas Novominsk Kol Yehuda in unison, with Reb Shia predominantly responsible for the high school, and Reb Yisruel for the Beis Midrash.


In 1982, Perlow published the first of what would eventually be a seven-volume series called Adas Yaakov, with three volumes on topics in the Talmud, three volumes on the Jewish holidays, and one volume on Chumash.[1]

  • פרלוב, יעקב (1982). ספר עדת יעקב: חידושים והערות ובאורי סוגיות בשמעתתא דתלמודא ובדברי הראשונים [Sefer Adas Yaakov: Novellae, Annotations and Commentary on Topics in the Talmud and the Works of the Rishonim] (in Hebrew).
  • פרלוב, יעקב (2013). עדת יעקב: לחג הפסח [Adas Yaakov on the Festival of Passover] (in Hebrew).
  • פרלוב, יעקב (2015). ספר עדת יעקב לחג השבועות [Sefer Adas Yaakov on the Festival of Shavuot] (in Hebrew).


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q Karman, Rabbi Binyomin (April 22, 2020). "'...And So Much More' – Harav Yaakov Perlow, Novominsker Rebbe, zt'l". Hamodia. pp. 28–29.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Weisberg, Moshe (April 7, 2020). "אבל ביהדות החרדית: הרבי מנובומינסק זצ"ל ראש אגו"י באמריקה" [Mourning in Haredi Judaism: The Novominsker Rebbe, zt'l, Head of Agudath Israel in America]. Behadrei Chareidim (in Hebrew). Retrieved April 7, 2020.
  3. ^ a b Roberts, Sam (April 10, 2020). "Rabbi Yaakov Perlow, Head of Hasidic Dynasty in Brooklyn, Dies at 89". The New York Times. Retrieved April 10, 2020.
  4. ^ a b "Today's Yahrtzeits and History – 9 Elul". matzav.com. August 24, 2015. Retrieved August 25, 2016.
  5. ^ Markusz, Katarzyna. "Zapomniany rabin" [Forgotten Rabbi] (in Polish). poznan.jewish.org.pl. Retrieved August 25, 2016.
  6. ^ a b c "Novominsker Rebbe Emerges as New Sage of Aguda: Perlow Assumes Mantle". The Forward. December 4, 1998. Archived from the original on October 8, 2016. Retrieved August 25, 2016 – via HighBeam.
  7. ^ a b "Interviews conducted by Professor William Helmreich with various Roshei Yeshiva Helmreich with various Roshei Yeshiva" (PDF). Stevens Institute of Technology. December 28, 1977. pp. 10–20. Retrieved August 25, 2016.
  8. ^ a b Helmreich 2000, p. 369.
  9. ^ Heilman 1995, p. 326.
  10. ^ a b Sones, Mordechai (April 7, 2020). "US Agudath Yisroel head, Rabbi Yaakov Perlow, the Novominsker Rebbe, dies of coronavirus". Israel National News. Retrieved April 7, 2020.
  11. ^ Rawls, Oren (December 5, 2003). "In Other Words". The Forward. Archived from the original on October 8, 2016. Retrieved August 25, 2016. 'The Internet, with the flick of a button, invades a Jewish home, a Jewish soul, and makes moral disaster. And it is happening all the time', warns the highly-respected Rabbi Yaakov Perlow in The Jewish Observer, the house organ of the organization he heads, Agudath Israel of America.
  12. ^ "Call to Action". Yated Ne'eman. June 22, 2016. Retrieved August 26, 2016. The Novominsker Rebbe, Rav Yaakov Perlow, issued a call for action in response to the festering scourge of child abuse and molestation.
  13. ^ Sitrit, Gavriel (January 6, 2016). "Novominsker Rebbe Condemns Holocaust Comments of Rabbi on Video Publicized by Matzav.com". matzav.com. Retrieved August 26, 2016. I condemn in the strongest terms possible the outrageous claim that fewer than a million halachic Jews were killed in the Holocaust.
  14. ^ Cohen, Debra Nussbaum (December 7, 2001). "Waiter, Hold The Knishes: Agudah urges cutting back on pricey weddings". The Jewish Week. Archived from the original on October 8, 2016. Retrieved August 26, 2016 – via HighBeam. These rabbis, led by Yaakov Perlow, the chief religious authority of the fervently Orthodox organization Agudath Israel of America, are leading a charge to change the communal culture around frum weddings, where even families of moderate means feel social pressure to invite upward of 1,000 people and serve them food from lavish smorgasbords set with everything from intricate ice sculptures to glatt kosher prime rib carving stations.
  15. ^ Runyan, Joshua (September 9, 2004). "Senator Presses for 2004, Before Focusing on Own Ambition". The Jewish Exponent. Archived from the original on October 8, 2016. Retrieved August 26, 2016 – via HighBeam. [Rick] Santorum and first-term Sen. Norm Coleman (R-Minn.) sat with Orthodox leaders during a closed-door meeting at Yeshivas Novominsk Kol Yehuda. After the meeting, Santorum said that he took to heart a message delivered to him by the Novominsker Rebbe, Rabbi Yaakov Perlow, and that he would try to incorporate that message into his convention address. "I won't have time to mention my visit, but I will have the time to transmit the words of the rebbe upstairs, the importance of faith communities and making sure those communities can transmit their faith", he said.
  16. ^ "Novominsker Rebbe Issues Direct Plea to President Obama at Agudath Israel Dinner". Yeshiva World News. May 12, 2015. Retrieved August 26, 2016.
  17. ^ "Agudath Israel Leader Calls for Dialogue As He Lashes Out". JTA. November 28, 1995. Retrieved August 26, 2016.
  18. ^ Ferziger 2015, pp. 136–139.
  19. ^ "Perlow's Progress". The Forward. January 8, 1999. Archived from the original on October 8, 2016. Retrieved August 26, 2016 – via HighBeam.
  20. ^ a b Powell, Michael (May 28, 2014). "At a Jewish Gala, de Blasio Skips His Cue to Speak Out". The New York Times. Retrieved August 26, 2016.
  21. ^ Lebens, Dr. Samuel (June 9, 2014). "Fair Criticism, Flawed Justification: Where Rabbi Perlow Went Wrong". Haaretz. Retrieved August 26, 2016.
  22. ^ Nathan-Kazis, Josh (May 28, 2014). "Orthodox Rabbi Stuns Agudath Gala With 'Heresy' Attack on Open Orthodoxy". The Forward. Retrieved August 25, 2016.
  23. ^ Barkan, Ross (May 30, 2014). "Bill de Blasio Furiously Refuses to Denounce Rabbi Tirade". New York Observer. Retrieved August 26, 2016.
  24. ^ Prince, Cathryn J. (March 31, 2020). "In the eye of NY's coronavirus storm, ultra-Orthodox face rising anti-Semitism". The Times of Israel. Retrieved April 7, 2020.
  25. ^ "Agudath Israel leader succumbs to coronavirus". jewishinsider.com. Retrieved April 7, 2020.


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