Grand Rabbi Jacob Israel Korff, Admur Zvil-Boston

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Grand Rabbi Jacob Israel Korff, Admur Zvil-Boston

Birthplace: Medzhybizh, Letychivs'kyi district, Khmel'nyts'ka oblast, Ukraine
Death: September 27, 1952 (68)
Boston, Suffolk County, Massachusetts, United States
Place of Burial: Everett, Middlesex County, Massachusetts, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Rav Mordechai Benzion of Medzhibozh Korff
Husband of Etta (Yitkah) Korff and Gittel Korff
Father of Private; Private; Private; Private; Pauline Grace Kerber and 8 others
Brother of Married sister who died in Holocaust Korff and Married sister who died in 1937 Korff

Managed by: Paul (Pesach) Gass
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About Grand Rabbi Jacob Israel Korff, Admur Zvil-Boston

The Korff lineage/Ba'al Shem Tov came from Shem V' Shearit by Rabbi Levi Grossman [Tel Aviv, 1943], researched by Shalom Bronstein, 1995.

R' Yaakov Yisroel of Zvhil - Mezbuz was the last Rebbe to reside in Zvhil. Son of the last Mezbuz Rebbe, R' Mordechai, he was a direct descendant of the Baal Shem Tov and his grandson, R' Boruch of Mezbuz (the first Rebbe), and the chassidic dynasties of the Rebbes of Mezbuz , Tchernobil, Karlin, and Apta.

He arrived in Boston in the early 1900's, brought here by numerous of his Chassidim who had chosen to leave Zvhil and settle in the Boston area. For a number of years the Rebbe commuted between his Chassidim in Boston and his wife and children and remaining Chassidim in Zvhil (near Kiev), where he still served as Chief Rabbi of the Ukraine.

Zvhil in Boston

When a pogrom in Zvhil targeted the Rebbe's compound and killed the Rebbetzin along with many of the Jews of the area, the remaining Chassidim brought the Rebbe's family to Boston. The late Zvhil - Mezbuz Rebbe was responsible for much of the present structure of the rabbinical organization in Boston. He was credited with inspiring all segments of Boston's Jewish Community to form a central Synagogue Council, Kashruth authority, and Beis Din, run under the auspices of the Orthodox rabbinate with the support of the entire Jewish community.

Educated by many of the leading sages of that era, including the author of the Oruch Hashulchan, he was an ilui (child prodigy) and known as an astute scholar and rabbinic decisor, as well as a man of vision and foresight. The leading Chassidic Rebbes and talmudic scholars of his time, from Russia, Europe, and the United States visited him first in Mezbuz, then in Zvhil, and later in Boston, to seek his advice and rulings.

There were often police and official vehicles in front of his home on Woodrow Avenue (in the Dorchester section of Boston), as many of the leadership of Boston's Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform synagogues, as well as Senators and Congressmen, the Mayor, Governor, and Cardinal of Boston, would visit his home, looking to him for advice and spiritual leadership.

People today still talk of the crowds of people who would wait outside all day and night to spend a precious moment with the Rebbe, who would not sleep until he had spoken with each one. When he ventured out he could not escape the throngs who accompanied him. On Rosh Hashonoh each year police would close main thoroughfares as the Rebbe and his entourage walked to Franklin Park in Roxbury to observe Tashlich.

A founder of the Agudas HoAdmorim (Union of Chassidic Rebbes), he was also instrumental in rescuing many Jews from the Russian pogroms and from the Nazi holocaust.

He felt very deeply the pain and suffering of his people, and would often write and telephone to his colleagues around the world to enlist their help in an effort to alleviate the suffering of klal yisroel. He would stand with his Gabbai on the docks in Boston Harbor as the ships arrived and bring refugees home with him, sometimes at the last minute on Friday afternoon before Shabbos. If food ran short he would instruct his Rebbetzin to "put more water in the soup, we have more guests." If he ran out of beds he would take the doors in his home off their hinges and place each door on two chairs to improvise a makeshift bed.

Zvhiller Cemetery (Boston) The headstones of many of these pioneers are found in the two Zvhiller cemeteries, the first at Baker Street in the West Roxbury section of Boston, and the second, where the family cemetery and the Rebbe's Ohel (Tomb) is found, in Everett, just north of Boston.


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Grand Rabbi Jacob Israel Korff, Admur Zvil-Boston's Timeline

October 23, 1883
Medzhybizh, Letychivs'kyi district, Khmel'nyts'ka oblast, Ukraine
August 2, 1912
Novohrad-Volyns'kyi, Zhytomyrs'ka oblast, Ukraine
July 4, 1914
Novohrad-Volyns'kyi, Zhytomyrs'ka oblast, Ukraine
February 11, 1917
Новоград-Волинський, Житомирська область, Ukraine
December 28, 1918
Novohrad-Volyns'kyi, Zhytomyrs'ka oblast, Ukraine
August 31, 1930
Boston, MA, United States