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The Alter surrounded by students in Hebron.
Knesses Yisrael Yeshiva Hebron, 1911.

Slabodka yeshiva, also known as Knesses Yisroel, and later as Hebron Yeshiva or Yeshivas Hevron, was known colloquially as the "mother of yeshivas" and was devoted to high level study of the Talmud. The yeshiva was located in the Lithuanian town of Slabodka, adjacent to Kovno (Kaunas), now VilijampolÄ—, a suburb of Kaunas. It functioned from the late 19th century until World War II.

From the second half of the 19th century, Kovno became a center of Jewish cultural activity in Lithuania. Prominent there were Isaac Elhanan Spector (the "Kovner Rav"; officiated 1864-96); Abraham Mapu, one of the first modern Hebrew writers; and the first Yiddish literary critic, Ba'al Makhshoves (Israel Isidor Elyashev). The yeshivot of Slobodka became celebrated, in particular the Or Chayyim yeshivah, founded by Tzevi Levitan about 1863, which attracted students from other countries and was headed by noted scholars. Rabbi Nosson Tzvi Finkel, also known as "Der Alter of Slabodka", (The Elder of Slabodka) introduced Musar ideals there. Its rosh yeshiva was Rabbi Moshe Mordechai Epstein; from 1881 it was known as the Slobodka yeshivah. Subsequently there was opposition among the students to the Musar method, and in 1897 the yeshivah was divided into two; the followers of Musar established the Keneset Israel yeshivah, named after Israel Lipkin (Salanter), while its opponents founded the Keneset Bet Yitzchak yeshivah, named after Yitzchak Elchanan Spektor. [1]


Relocation to Palestine

A 1924 edict requiring enlistment in the military or supplementary secular studies in the yeshiva led a large number of its students to relocate to Hebron. Rabbi Finkel sent Rabbi Avraham Grodzinski to head the group and establish the Yeshiva in Hebron[2]. Upon Rabbi Grodzinski's return to Slabodka, Rabbi Finkel transferred the Mashgiach Ruchni responsibilities to him, and the Rosh Yeshiva duties to Rabbi Yitzchok Isaac Sher, and Rabbi Finkel moved to Hebron to lead the yeshiva there[3]. Hebron was chosen over Jerusalem to avoid the influence of the conservative old yishuv. The Slabodka yeshiva ceased operation during the Holocaust. A branch was also established in Bnei Barak (see Slabodka yeshiva (Bnei Barak)).

1929 Hebron massacre

24 students were murdered in the 1929 Hebron massacre, and the yeshiva was reestablished in the Geula neighbourhood of Jerusalem. Despite a delay after the death of Rabbi Moshe Hebroni, the last of the previous generation, the yeshiva moved into a new and larger campus in the south-central Giv'at Mordechai neighbourhood in 1975.

Prominent alumni

See also


  1. ^ Encyclopaedia Judaica
  2. ^ See Toras Avraham page 13
  3. ^ Toras Avraham page 13



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