Rabbi Meir Rokeach, who passed away on April 4 as a result of COVID-19, was an authority on Jewish law and the leader of the Kozlov Chassidic dynasty.

The Kozlover sect had its beginnings in Poland at the turn of the 20th century, when Rokeach’s grandfather and namesake, Rabbi Meir Rokeach of Krakow, moved from Przemyśl, Poland, to Strelisk, Galicia.

A charismatic and pious well-learned rabbi, he immediately attracted a following in Strelisk; in fact, the Chassidim wished to crown him as the Rebbe of Strelisk. The rabbi, however, out of respect for the legendary Rabbi Uri of Strelisk—known as the Seraph (“angel”) of Strelisk due to his piety and asceticism, who had lived there more than half-a-century beforehand—refused the title.

Instead, he moved to the town of Kozlov, Galicia (today, Ukraine), where he became known as the Kozlover Rebbe.

With the outbreak of World War I, he fled to Hungary, eventually emigrating to the United States in 1931, one of the few Chassidic Rebbes to live in pre-war America. He passed away in 1941 after establishing his Chassidic legacy on the safe shores of the United States.

His grandson led the small, yet resilient, Chassidic group into the 21st century after the passing of his parents, Rabbi Moshe and Rebbetzin Shlomtzi Rokeach. He was known as a tremendous Torah scholar with a love for books; he owned a sizable Judaic library in his Borough Park home.

He is survived by his wife and large family.

His brother, Rabbi Aharon Rokeach, passed away shortly afterwards, also of COVID-19.

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