Memory Lane: Rav Avigdor Regenbogen, Bridging Chortkiv and Boro Park

Memory Lane: Rav Avigdor Regenbogen, Bridging Chortkiv and Boro Park

The leader of the Czortkower chassidim in America was Rav Avigdor Regenbogen. Today, we take a glimpse into his life. 


Rav Avigdor was born in this hamlet (pronounced Yahylnitza), about 10 km. outside Chortkiv in the year 1864. His father was Eliezer Asher (who was niftar and buried in Jagielnica in the year 1896). Not much is known about his youth, but he would soon be renowned as a pious and learned man. In 1882, he married Temeril Feige Schor of Horodenka, and settled in that city which is also in Ukraine, about 40 km from his birthplace. 

Here he dedicated himself to learning Torah and serving Hashem, in the shtiebel of the Chortkiver chassidim in the town. Writes Reb Dovid Seidman, who printed Yismach Yisroel by the Chortkiver Rebbe: “In Horodenka, I learned under Mori, Harav hachosid hamufla, exceptional in Torah and chassidus…” 


The Czorktkower Rebbes—Rav Dovid Moshe Friedman (1828 - 1903), and his son Rav Yisroel Friedman of Chortkiv-Vienna (1854-1934)— were of the few leaders who encouraged certain chassidim to emigrate to America early on. Rav Yisroel would say that “although the very stones in America are indeed treif—but how can we leave an entire medinah for hefker.” He would further relate in the name of the Chidushei Harim that had he sent 80 of his most elevated chassidim, he could have saved much of American Jewry.  

In 1893, Rav Avigdor immigrated to the United States. His wife would follow with the children in 1900. Throughout his years in New York, Rav Avigdor lived on the Lower East Side, where he led the chassidim. In many letters from the Chortkiver Rebbes to America, they consistently address Rav Avigdor by name, and then the chassidim in general. 

Tiferes Yisroel 

In 1920 he moved to Boro Park, and in 1925, the Kloiz Tiferes Yisroel in Boro Park was founded. Writes Reb Moshe Gordon in his sefer Yalkut Moshe: “Thirty years ago, when the Chortkiver Kloiz was established by his [Rav Yisroel’s) ardent chossid, Rav Avigdor Regenbogen, it was his custom to learn from the Rebbe’s sefer Tiferes Yisroel each Shabbos after davening, and would elucidate and expound upon the depths of the words of his Rebbe.” 

“Talmudic Scholar Buried with Books,” states one headline, “Rev. Regenbogen’s funeral services, was leader of Chassidic Jewry in Boro,” says another. “Funeral services will be held today for the Rev. Vigdor Regenbogen who died Friday night in the Israel Zion Hospital. He was 72., Born in Austria, he came to the United States 35 years ago, and became the leader of the few scatted chassidim in this country… he was active in raising funds for Jews throughout the world and it was estimated he turned over at least $40,000 to Austrian Jews… which he turned over to the Grand Rabbi Israel Friedman of Vienna. 

“He last appeared at the Chortkiver congregation, 13th Avenue and 50th Street (we assume this was located in Yeshiva Etz Chaim), about a month ago. Rabbi Regenbogen, who came to New York with his wife, the former Fanny Shore, settled on the Lower East Side. A devoted Talmud Scholar , he joined the Sadagura Congregation at 110 Attorney Street, near Rivington (Yiddish newspapers used to refer to this section as ‘the Galicianer Kvartl’)… without a congregation of his own for a quarter-century, he moved to Brooklyn in 1925… meanwhile, since 1917, many Chassidic centers had sprung up here with the exodus from wartime Eastern Europe.

“He retained his membership in the old East Side Congregation despite his work in Brooklyn”—which meant he could be buried in the Sadigura section, bringing to a close a lifetime of Torah and chessed culminated in Boro Park of yesteryear.   

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