WATCH: Rare Footage Of The Chofetz Chaim From The First ‘Knessia Gedolah’


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

The Chofetz Chaim can be seen starting at 0:56 in the video.

The First World Congress (Knessia Gedolah) of the World Agudath Israel the first major gathering of all the different sects of Klal Yisroel which took place in Vienna starting from Elul 3, 5683 / August 15, 1923 and which lasted for ten days.

The following text was published on YouTube and appears under the video:

(World Congress of Agudas Yisroel, new organization of Orthodox Jews, in session. Shots of delegates arriving before Congress Building (the old circus building) in Zirkue Strasse. Group shot with Chief Rabbi Chaim Sechor (Roumania) in center. Group with Rabbi Lee Preschner, member of the business committee of the association. Group with Rabbi Ehrmann (Frankfort, Germany) in conversation. Dr. Jacob Rosenheim (Frankfort) leader of the new movement. Dr. Leo Jung (New York). Sally Guggenheim. Chief Rabbi Spitzer (Czechoslovakia). Delegate from Palestine. Chief Rabbi Lowenstein (Zurich, Switzerland). Dr. Kirschbaum (Warsaw, Poland), deputy in the Sejm (Polish Parliament). Chief Rabbi Permutier (Warsaw), Sejm deputy. The famous 90 year old Rabbi Yisrael Meier Hakohen (Radin), also called “Chofez Chaim” after his great work. Identifications of delegates may be incorrect.)

הכנסייה הראשונה יועדה להתקיים בחודש אלול תרע”ד (1914), אך מספר שבועות לפני התאריך המיועד פרצה מלחמת העולם הראשונה.

המועד: ג’-י’ באלול תרפ”ג (1923). המקום: וינה. בכנסייה השתתפו כ-900 צירים.

בין המשתתפים: החפץ חיים, האדמו”ר הרב אברהם מרדכי אלתר מגור, הרב חיים עוזר גרודז’ינסקי מווילנא, האדמו”ר הרב ישראל פרידמן מצ’ורטקוב, האדמו”ר רבי משה פרידמן מבויאן, האדמו”ר הרב יצחק זליג מורגנשטרן מסוקולוב, הרב מאיר דן פלוצקי בעל ה”כלי חמדה”, הרב מאיר שפירא מלובלין, הרב משה מרדכי אפשטיין מסלבודקה, הרב מאיר אטלס משאוויל, הרב יוסף יהודה ליב בלוך מטלז, הרב יהודה לייב צירלסון מקישינב, הרב איסר זלמן מלצר מסלוצק.


  1. Very interesting. If someone would be able to identify all the people it would be amazing. It’s seems that there are many Gedolim there. As a side bar it was funny to see someone tried to block the camera. They did that back then too. Just saying.

  2. Amazing footage. Pretty interesting to see that there were “machers” back then too. Such a video taken today would have one big difference……..half of the people would have been on their cell phone.

  3. amazing.

    Note how the chofetz chaim looks prettttttty much like the famous image we have and use in 99% of our homes..

    There are those who seek to make yiddishkeit ugly, and they always insist on making that image ugly as well (see the mishpacha anti-shaitel ads with an intentionally uglified image of the tzura of the tzaddik).

    The panim were warm, welcoming and beautiful, the tzaddik was warm, welcoming and beautiful, and yiidishkeit is as well.

    Enough of this “that’s not how he looked” naarishkeit.

  4. It is interesting that there were very few fedoras, though at that time the fedora was not a fancy dress hat. Also those in non-black suits (and with fedoras) are wearing short suit jackets meaning they weren’t formally dressed since even in western countries short suits were still regarded as less than formal dress (that changed by the end of the 1920s, but at the time proper dress for a man in the western world involved a long coat). One can conclude they were dressed in regular weekday clothes, and not dressed up at all.

  5. list of the names
    [6:59:01 PM] eliyahu zelasko: “מי ומי ההולכים בצילום הנ”ל:
    הג”ר אברהם צבי פרלמוטר אב”ד ורשא ונציג אגו”י בסיים 0:27
    האדמו”ר ר’ ישראל פרידמן מצ’ורטקוב 0:47
    רשכבה”ג נשיא הדורות החפץ חיים זי”ע 0:57
    מלווה בבנו מצד אחד ומצד שני נכדו הגר”א קפלן הי”ד 0:57
    האדמו”ר מסוקולוב ר’ יצחק זליג מורגנשטרן הי”ד 1:47
    הג”ר אשר מיכאל [דר. ארתור] כהן אב”ד באזל 1:57
    הג”ר יהודא ליב צירלסון אב”ד קישנב הי”ד 2:05
    הג”ר אלחנן וסרמן הי”ד 2:22
    ר’ אשר מנדלסון מראשי אגו”י בפולין ונציג בסיים 2:28
    הג”ר פנחס דר. קאהן אב”ד אנסבך 2:56
    הג”ר טוביה הורויץ אב”ד סנוק 3:02
    מורנו רבי יעקב רוזנהיים נשיא אגו”י 3:16
    הג”ר אליהו [דר. ליאו] יונג רב ג’ואיש סנטר ניו יורק 3:55
    הג”ר מאיר דר. הילדסהיימר מברלין 3:16
    הרב שפיצר נציג אגו”י מהונגריה 3:58
    הג”ר יחזקאל סרנא אח”כ ראש ישיבת חברון 4:13
    רבי משה בלוי מירושלים 4:28
    הג”ר טוביה דר. לוונשטיין אב”ד ציריך 4:34”

  6. The whole copy the next guy thing wasn’t anything like it is today. People were more true to themselves. Another thing is that their personalities and styles were so much better than today! They are well groomed, energetic, formal, friendly, classy and alive in a way that is so lacking in our robotic, copy cat, technology poisoned society. And it was under 100 years ago – not long. Imagine how folks were 200 years ago etc or perhaps the plunge was greater in recent times.

  7. uhhh the CC looks nothing like the famous pic of him. He looks like the CORRECT one from the Artscroll book while sitting outside. Nothing like the Shmiras HaLashon picture

  8. A Shrek that they had no clue what the Boireh Kol Oilomim had in store for us R”L, just a mere 11 years later.

    We must start teaching our children, that all of mankind, adults and children, even Non-Yiddishe, are precious in the eyes of the Creator, Hashem Yisborach.

    Halevai, that our children should see, that we worry about the well-being of every person and we make an effort, not to exclude any person, from our Teffilohs. Especially when we Daven for Refuah Shleimo, we must never exclude Non-Yidden who are R”L not well.

    That will strengthen our empathy and concern for all Human Beings, for Yidden and especially for Non-Yidden, regardless of what kind of mother they were born to. That will be M’oirer Rachmei Shomayim.

    HKB”H will, Never-Again, instigate any Hatred or Pogroms or Holocausts against us.

  9. #12
    you’re so right!
    you didn’t sense any of that snobbery. straight face; no smile, glass look…. everyone is so alive in their own way. so approachable and human… Today, it has such a mix of gaave. I do see though things that remind me of today; the ticket holders, those that have protectzia, those that didn’t get hold of the ticket and are peeking through the gates.. the gabbaim. The world wasn’t that much different but the point you make is true.

  10. Pesident Calvin Coolidge was the USA president at that time.

    If not so many people had been smoking at that gathering, more more of them would still be alive today.

  11. Maybe this clip has been released at this propitious time to remind us that life and death is in the hand of the tongue. Let’s speak favorably of our fellow Jew and we will get to meet the holy Chofetz Chaim in the flesh. Just believe….

  12. #21 you’re right. no smoking would have avoided the holocaust!!!

    very important point… you see the man that has started this important movement of shmiras halashon; should do something to us.

  13. #12 147 – at 4:08 in the video is a kid that looks around bar Mitzvah age. I was discussing with my family members that if that child is still alive today he’s around 105 years old today! It’s thus hard pressed to say that any of the adults in the video would be alive today if they wouldn’t have smoked. They’d have to be at least 112 years old today (assuming 20 years of age in the video).

    I’m not for smoking and hate when I see Bnei Torah smoking, especially kids! Non-the-less, let’s keep things in perspective.

  14. Point of Interest: It appears that the Chofetz Chaim was left handed. If you look closely he has his left hand over his right hand. Right-handers do the opposite.

  15. #16 – Ani Mamim B’emunah Sheleima b’vias Hamoshiach!

    The Eibishter wants to give us a glimps of what we’re going to see very very soon with the coming of mashiach!!


    Rabboisai, do teshuva now so we can be zocheh to see the Chofetz Chaim and all our previous gedoilim, rishoinim, tannaim, nivi’im, our Avos, etc…

    Eitza for Teshuva:
    Stop doing whatever youdoing had you been standing RIGHT THERE when the Chofetz Chaim was walking by…

  16. At least now we have a clue what the dress requirement was for the Rebbes and Rabbonim, and Tzadikim of yore. And for those who want to be an emesdike follower: Wear a Tie!

  17. Amazing look at 2:21 one can see reb elchonon wasserman enter, flinging his umbrella over his shoulder, and at 2:25 one can see the first cell phone user speaking on speaker phone as she pushes her carriage, just like today….

  18. ujm- most people are acting right-handed. Perhaps the CC was holding something in his right hand? I’m not an expert, but would we have known if he was left handed?

  19. I know it’s a silly minor observation, but I noticed that the Chofetz Chaim and his entourage have their coats closed right over left “chasideshe style?” I thought litvisher never did this.

  20. At 0:54 unique hat that is pushed in all around (like Lubavichers do to the back part of their hats). At 3:07 white straw hat like was popular 30 years ago. The Chofetz Chaim wore a very long kapata almost to his ankles (as did the Rav before him. He avoided the camera completely, looking down the whole time (the only one), perhaps the man that quickly strides ahead and blocks the camera realized the the CC didn’t like to be filmed (R. Avigdor Miller didn’t allow pictures of him at weddings). It was very hot (many used umbrellas for shade (as the Asians do), yet the CC had his handa in his sleeves. Also his cap was very unique.

  21. softwords and roger green

    the chafetz chaim WAS actually a lefty however because of roger’s point he forced himself to become a righty, look in sefer hilchos itar yad

  22. The Tzidkus of the Chofetz Chaim is quiet apparent even from this short clip! What a Chizuk!

    As someone mentioned, he’s looking down within his 4 Amos, hands above his waiste, befitting of the famous story where he advised the Mechitza to stay up during the speeches, in order to keep The Shechina within us…

    Very humble, unassuming….
    You could see how revered he was as no one dares approaching him to greet him…

    A taste of What we’ll see by Techias Hameisim…

  23. The Chofetz Chaim did NOT force himself to become a righty because he held that bizman mashiach also balei mumin will be healed and he’ll become a righty. Davar yadua likol.

  24. for all those discussing hat sizes, ties and coats etc…. rabbanim and rebbes wore long and most others short. There wasn’t such a dagesh on the hat/tie etc… you wore what you had and where you came from. Today you look at the yeshivos and everyone is wearing the same exact thing… there’s no uniqueness. you have girls waiting around(even if they don’t admit it) till 35 cus they didn’t find that boy with the hat and look they pictured it to be…what a “kleinkepeldig” generation we live in.

  25. #35 I agree with you. He looks far too jovial whilst as far as I seem to remember to have read, Reb Elchonon הי”ד was מקפיד not to be ממלא פיו שחוק!