Skverer rebbetzin, Chaya Chana Twersky, wife of Skverer rebbe of New Square, dies at age 81

A scion of numerous Hasidic dynasties, her funeral on Sunday drew thousands from across New York State and beyond

Main synagogue in New Square, N.Y., headquarters of the Skver Hasidic sect. Photo: Mo Gelber/Shtetl

Feb 20, 2024 4:20 PM


The Skverer rebbetzin, Chaya Chana Twersky, wife of Skverer rebbe of New Square, died on Sunday at age 81, prompting an outpouring of condolences from across the Haredi world as well as from New York’s leading political figures.

Chaya Chana Twersky was the wife of New Square leader Rabbi David Twersky, grand rabbi of the Skver sect, and daughter of the late Rabbi Moshe Hager, the previous rebbe of Vizhnitz of Bnei Brak, Israel. A scion of numerous Hasidic dynasties, she was also the sister of Sasha Teitelbaum, wife of Satmar rebbe Aaron Teitelbaum of Kiryas Joel, and Sarah Rokeach, wife of Belzer rebbe Yissachar Dov Rokeach of Jerusalem.

In addition to her husband and her two prominent sisters, she is survived by four sons, two daughters, and another sister. Another daughter died in Sep. 2022.

In a post on X, formerly Twitter, New York State governor Kathy Hochul offered a message of condolence: “We join Grand Rabbi David Twersky and the entire Skever community in mourning the loss of Skverer Rebbetzin Chaya Chana Twersky. May her memory be a blessing.”

Condolence messages were also posted by Attorney General Letitia James and New York City Mayor Eric Adams

Congressman Mike Lawler, who represents the village of New Square, in New York’s 17th congressional district, posted, “Doina and I are saddened to hear about the passing of the Skverer Rebbetzin, Chaya Chana Twersky, at the age of 81. My heartfelt condolences go out to her husband, Grand Rabbi David Twersky, whom I've had the privilege of meeting on several occasions, and whose guidance and wisdom are a beacon to so many and to the greater New Square community. May her memory be a source of inspiration and blessings.”

Congressman Marc Molinaro and state senator Bill Weber also posted condolence messages, as did former U.S. rep. Mondaire Jones, who briefly represented the 17th congressional district in the U.S. House and is currently challenging Lawler to retake his old seat.

Jones came under criticism last October for posting a photo of former Speaker Kevin McCarthy, Lawler, and other Republican officials visiting with the Skverer rebbe, appearing to mock the visit: “Well this was a waste of everyone’s time.” The post came immediately after McCarthy lost the House speakership. Jones later deleted the post and issued an apology, saying the post was “too open to misinterpretation.” He then clarified that his intended message was that Republicans “cannot possibly deliver for communities in Rockland.”

Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League also posted condolences over the Skverer rebbetzin’s passing.

David Twersky, the Skverer rebbe, wields enormous political influence due to his command of a large number of devoted followers, who make up one of the most reliable bloc votes for New York State officials who get his endorsement. It is not uncommon for Twersky’s chosen candidates to receive 99% of the vote in New Square, an all-Hasidic village in Rockland County that serves as the headquarters of the Skver Hasidic sect. Twersky also commands a sizable following in Brooklyn and Monsey, with schools and numerous Skverer synagogues in each.

In Hasidic communities, the rebbetzin — or rabbi’s wife — is typically far less publicly visible than her husband, but often plays a significant role behind-the-scenes, even as men occupy virtually all public-facing leadership positions. While some rebbetzins are publicly active among the women of their communities, such as taking an active leadership role in girls’ schools and organizing women’s fundraising events, others maintain only a ceremonial presence. Haredi media outlets typically do not publish any photos of women, including rebbetzins.

The Skverer rebbetzin's funeral was held Sunday evening in New Square and drew thousands of Haredim from across New York State and beyond.