Yaakov Perlow, a leading ultra-Orthodox rabbi in US, dies of coronavirus at 89
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Yaakov Perlow, a leading ultra-Orthodox rabbi in US, dies of coronavirus at 89

Religious leader based in New York headed the Novominsker Hasidic dynasty and Agudath Israel of America, warned his followers about danger posed by pandemic

Rabbi Yaakov Perlow speaks at Agudath Israel of America's 2019 convention in Stamford, Conn. (Courtesy/Agudath Israel via JTA)
Rabbi Yaakov Perlow speaks at Agudath Israel of America's 2019 convention in Stamford, Conn. (Courtesy/Agudath Israel via JTA)

JTA — Rabbi Yaakov Perlow, a leading ultra-Orthodox rabbi also known as the Novominsker Rebbe, died Tuesday from the coronavirus.

Perlow, who hailed from a prominent line of rabbis, died at his home in the Borough Park neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York, at age 89.

Since 1998, Perlow served as the president of Agudath Israel of America, an umbrella organization for ultra-Orthodox Jews that grew out of the Agudath Israel movement in Poland that his grandfather co-founded. Perlow also headed the Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah of America, the Agudath’s rabbinic ruling body.

Perlow succeeded his father to become the rabbinic leader of the Novominsker Hasidic dynasty and founded the Yeshivas Novominsk Kol Yehuda in Borough Park.

“The loss to [the Jewish people], and Agudas Yisroel, is incalculable,” Agudath Israel said in a statement, using an alternate spelling of its name.

Last month, as the coronavirus started spreading rapidly through Jewish communities across New York State and New Jersey, Perlow urged community members to take seriously the advice of medical experts.

“We must be informed about the facts of this disease and what the expert doctors, the infectious disease specialists, are telling us, in a unanimous way,” he said in a video message.

“We cannot behave today like we did last week or two weeks ago. We are told that the Jewish law is that we must listen to doctors whether it’s about a sick person on Yom Kippur or a sick person that requires desecrating Shabbat and so on,” he said.

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