by Sandy Eller
The longtime leader of the Seret-Vizhnitzer sect died today after experiencing a cardiac event in Haifa at the age of 91.
Rabbi Eliezer Hager led the Seret-Vizhnitzer chasidim in Haifa for over 50 years. Son of the Mekor Baruch and grandson of the Ahavas Yisroel, Rabbi Hager was recognized as the next leader of the chasidus from an early age, continuing on the Kosov-Vizhnitz dynasty.
Rabbi Hager arrived in pre-1948 Israel as an illegal immigrant and was detained at the infamous Atlit Ma’aplim camp in Haifa. He was named to succeed his father as the Rebbe of Seret-Vizhnitz approximately one year after his death. During his lifetime, Rabbi Hager was known as someone who spoke out forcefully against lashon hara, who pursued peace and who reached out to the unaffiliated in an attempt to bring them closer to their roots.
Rabbi Hager’s health had been declining in recent years and he was hospitalized two years ago with back issues. He has appeared infrequently in public since that time and many of his duties have been carried out by his son, Rabbi Yaakov Hager, son in law to the Biala Rebbe of Bnei Brak.
Rabbi Yaakov Hager, who has been vacationing in Switzerland, is currently on his way back to Israel for his father’s levaya, which is expected to take place tomorrow.