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Worldwide organization of Orthodox Jews, founded in 1912 in Kattowitz, Poland. Before World War II, Agudath Israel was influential in many European countries, particularly in Poland, Czechoslovakia, and Germany. Its total membership was estimated at half a million. A rabbinical council of prominent Talmudical scholars, called Moetzet Gedolei Ha-Torah, was established to hand down decisions on Jewish law. Today, Agudah has headquarters in three world capitals: London, Jerusalem, and New York City.

Through a special fund, the Keren Ha-Torah, the movement has established and maintained many yeshivot and Talmud Torahs throughout the world. It has also promoted the Beth Jacob school system for girls in many countries, providing both religious and secular education for its students.

Agudath Israel is active in combating laws which interfere with traditional religious observance. It has opposed the passage of laws in Europe and the U.S. that prohibit ritual slaughter. It has also campaigned against changes in the calendar which would jeopardize the observance of Jewish holy days.

From its inception, Agudath Israel has opposed political Zionism. After the birth of Israel, however, the Agudah joined the first government of Israel and participated in subsequent government coalitions.

Prominent leaders of Agudath Israel included the late Jacob Rosenheim of Israel, the late Rabbi Aaron Kotler of Lakewood, N.J., and the late Rabbi Eliezer Silver of Cincinnati, Ohio.

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