Rabbi Pinchas Menachem Alter
Rabbi Pinchas Menachem Alter, who was also referred to as the Pnei Menachem due to the works he wrote, served as the seventh Rebbe of the Hasidic dynasty of Ger from 1992 until his death in 1996. Prior to this, Rabbi Pinchas Menachem had held the position of Rosh Yeshiva from 1956 until he was appointed as Rebbe. His Hebrew name was פינחס מנחם אלתר and he was born on June 9, 1926, eventually passing away on March 7, 1996.
Rabbi Pinchas Menachem was born in Falenica, Poland, which is located near Warsaw. He was the only child of Rabbi Avraham Mordechai Alter, the fourth Rebbe of Ger, and Feyge Mintshe Biderman. Rabbi Pinchas Menachem had four half-brothers and two half-sisters from his father’s first marriage, including the fifth Rebbe of Ger, Rabbi Yisrael Alter, and the sixth Rebbe of Ger, Rabbi Simcha Bunim Alter.
Rabbi Pinchas Menachem’s bar mitzvah ceremony took place in Ludmir, Poland (now western Ukraine) just before the outbreak of World War II in 1939. After the war ended, he married his cousin, Tzipora Alter. In 1956, he was appointed as the rosh yeshiva of Sfas Emes, which is the main yeshiva of Ger in Jerusalem, Israel.
Rabbi Pinchas Menachem was chosen to become the Rebbe in 1992 following the death of his half-brother, Rabbi Simcha Bunim Alter. He had previously held the position of rosh yeshiva at the Sfas Emes Yeshiva, which was then assumed by his son, Rabbi Shaul Alter, a renowned Talmudic scholar.
Rabbi Pinchas Menachem, served as the Rebbe of the Ger dynasty for less than four years before he passed away in 1996. He was buried next to his father, Rabbi Avraham Mordechai Alter, in the courtyard of the Sfas Emes Yeshiva. Unlike his father’s grave, which was dug by hand in secrecy during a British curfew in 1948, the Pnei Menachem’s grave was dug using machinery and is therefore lower in elevation. A red-brick ohel was constructed over the two graves, which are frequently visited by students in the yeshiva.
After Rabbi Pinchas Menachem’s death, he was succeeded as Rebbe by his nephew, Rabbi Yaakov Aryeh Alter, who is the son of Rabbi Simcha Bunim Alter. In 2019, his son Rabbi Shaul Alter established his own group of Ger Chasidim called Kehilas Pnei Menachem, which operates independently of the larger Ger sect.
Rabbi Shaul Alter
Rabbi Shaul Alter, born on July 6, 1957, is the current leader and founder of Kehilas Pnei Menachem, a group that originated from the Ger Hasidic dynasty. Prior to starting this group, Rabbi Shaul Alter served as the Rosh Yeshivah of Sfas Emes Yeshivah from 1993 until it closed in 2016.
Rabbi Shaul Alter was born in Jerusalem to Tziporah, a daughter of Rabbi Avraham Mordechai Alter, and to Rabbi Pinchas Menachem Alter, who later became the Rebbe of the Ger Hasidic Dynasty. He was named after his mother’s grandfather, Rabbi Shaul Moshe Zilberman. Alter received his religious education at the Imrei Emes Yeshivah in Bnei Brak and then continued learning under his father’s guidance at the Sfas Emes Yeshivah, where he gained a reputation as an exceptional student who completed the entire Talmud.
In 1977, Alter married Naomi, the daughter of Chaim Dov Rubinstein from Haifa. After getting married, he lived in Haifa and was appointed as the Maggid Shiur of the Ohr Simcha Yeshivah. He also had the opportunity to give in-depth lectures at the Beis Yisroel Yeshivah in Ashdod.
After the death of his uncle, Rebbe Simcha Bunim Alter of Ger, in 1992, his father requested that he return to Jerusalem to serve as the Rosh Yeshivah of the Sfas Emes Yeshivah. Alter accepted this prestigious position in July 1993 and gave daily and weekly lectures at the yeshivah.
Rabbi Shaul Alter’s followers have compiled and published a series of books based on his in-depth lectures, which are known as Yaalkut Shiurim (in Hebrew ילקוט שיעורים). These books are widely studied and respected within the Jewish community.
In October 2019, during the holiday of Sukkos, Alter and the Rebbe attempted to reconcile their differences but were unsuccessful. As a result, Rabbi Shaul Alter’s followers announced that they would be holding separate prayers on Simchas Torah.
During the holiday, a significant number of Alter’s followers participated in separate prayers and gatherings. Following this, Alter’s group announced that they were splitting from the main community and establishing their own separate institutions, including the Yeshivas Pnei Menachem.