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Agudath Israel of America is a Haredi Jewish communal organization in the United States loosely affiliated with the international World Agudath Israel.
Agudath Israel serves as a leadership and policy umbrella organization for Haredi Jews in the United States, both those affiliating with the Hasidic and the non-Hasidic Mitnagdim/Lithuanian Jewish camps. Agudath Israel has ideological connections with both the Agudat Israel party and with Degel HaTorah (Hebrew, "Flag of the Torah"), two Israeli Orthodox Jewish political parties that have representation in the Knesset (Israel's parliament). In Israel, Degel and Agudah are in a political coalition called United Torah Judaism (UTJ).
The original Agudath Israel movement was established in Europe in 1912 by some of the most famous Orthodox rabbis of the time, including the Chafetz Chaim, Rabbi Chaim Ozer Grodzinski of Vilna, the Radziner Rebbe, Rabbi Mordechai Yosef Elazar Leiner, the Gerrer Rebbe (Imrei Emes) and the Chortkover Rebbe. It grew during the 1920s and 1930s to be the political, communal, and cultural voice of those Orthodox Jews who were not part of Zionism's Orthodox Jewish Mizrachi party. See more information at World Agudath Israel.
Rabbi Eliezer Silver, an Eastern European-trained rabbi, established the first office of Agudath Israel in America during the 1930s, organizing its first conference in 1939. After the Holocaust, some prominent rabbis made their home in America who established a moetzes ("[supreme] council") and the movement began to grow rapidly with the rise of the yeshiva-based and Hasidic Orthodox communities. Agudath Israel's policies and leadership are directed by its Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah : Council of Torah Sages, composed primarily of Rosh Yeshivas (the chief spiritual and scholarly authority in a yeshiva) and Hasidic Rebbes (who head Hasidic dynasties and organizations). The Moetzes sets all major policies and guides the organization according to its precepts of Daas Torah (Hebrew: דעת תורה) generally translated as Torah knowledge/direction. The organization has a lay staff, many of whom are also ordained rabbis, but not of a caliber comparable to the rosh yeshivas and rebbes. After the passing of Rabbi Moshe Sherer, its last significant "lay" leader, Rabbi Yaakov Perlow who is also the Novominsker rebbe and a member of the Moetzet, was appointed as the Rosh Agudat Yisrael ("Head of Agudath Israel"). The past Noviminsker Rebbe, Rabbi Nochum Perlow was considered a key figure in the Agudah. The present official head is now his son, also known as the Noviminsker Rebbe, Rabbi Yaakov Perlow who works closely with his fellow leaders on the Moetzet.