Rav Simcha Bunim Alter (1898-1992), the Lev Simcha of Ger, was a leader during a time period of growth and consolidation. Having grown up in Poland and emerged as a great Torah scholar, he moved to Palestine in 1934, and then returned to Poland shortly before the war and was a crucial player in facilitating his father’s escape from the Nazi inferno. Upon his older brother the Bais Yisrael’s assuming the mantle of leadership in 1948, the Lev Simcha sojourned in Paris and Antwerp for several years before returning to Israel. In 1977, at the age of 79, he became the leader of the Ger Chassidic community, and immediately embarked on a series of innovative measures to enhance the lives of his chassidim whom he cared for in a fatherly way. He pioneered the establishment of Chassidic communities on the periphery for cheaper housing, and encouraged his followers to look after their health and quit smoking. In many ways he expressed his practical understanding and ability to creatively confront the changing demographics his era had been presented with. On the world scene, he continued the legacy of his forebears as the leader of Agudas Yisrael in the political realm, and presented the idea of the Daf Yomi of Yerushalmy at the Knessiah Gedolah in 1980.
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