Perhaps the most acclaimed leader of Russian Jewry of the 19th century was Rav Yitzchak Elchanan Spektor (1817-1896). A long-time Rabbi of Kovno, his impact reached the far reaches of the Russian Empire and beyond. He served as the leading posek in all halachic matters, the arbiter of many disputes and lent his name to diverse causes such as the Kovno Persushim Kollel and Chovevei Zion. Exhibiting leadership on the burning issues of the day, he forged a relationship with the financial elite in St. Petersburg and with Czarist government officials lobbying on behalf of the general community.
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