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Adler, Cyrus (13 September 1863–07 April 1940), academic administrator and Jewish communal leader, was born in Van Buren, Arkansas, to Samuel Adler, a merchant and planter, and Sarah Sulzberger. At an early age Adler’s family moved to Philadelphia and then to New York, where his father died in 1867. The family returned to Philadelphia, where his mother’s brother, David Sulzberger, became head of the household and was a great influence on Adler’s upbringing. As a boy, Adler received an intensive education in Judaic subjects from a consortium of Philadelphia rabbis, headed by ...

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Bardin, Shlomo ( December 1898–16 May 1976), Jewish educator, was born Shlomo Bardinstein in Zhitomir, Ukraine, the son of Haim Israel Bardinstein and Menia Weissburd, members of Zhitomir’s Jewish bourgeoisie. After completing his secondary education at the Zhitomir School of Commerce in 1918, he left Russia for Palestine, which was probably when he shortened his name to “Bardin.” From 1920 he worked as an administrative assistant at the Hebrew Secondary School in Haifa before leaving in 1923 for the University of Berlin, where he studied history and economics. Two years later he entered University College in London for a year’s study of English. Bardin returned to Haifa in 1926 and spent two years teaching at the Hebrew Boarding School. He went to New York City in 1928 and was accepted as a graduate student at Columbia University’s Teachers College. At Columbia he studied comparative education with progressive educators who urged him to research the Danish Folk High School to examine its creative use of music to reach disaffected youth. He received his M.A. in 1930. In 1931 Bardin married a sculptor, Ruth Jonas, daughter of a wealthy Brooklyn lawyer; the couple would have two children....

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Blaustein, David (05 May 1866–26 August 1912), rabbi, educator, and social worker, was born in Lida, Russian Poland, the son of Isaiah Blaustein and Sarah Natzkovsky. The family was of humble means, and David was eight years old when his father died. Nine years later he ran away from home to the Prussian town of Memel in order to obtain an education. He then journeyed to Schwerin, the capital of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, where he enrolled in a Jewish teacher’s preparatory school under the leadership of Dr. Fabian Feilchenfeld. His intention was to be a cantor-shochet-teacher to the German Jews, but Bismarck’s ban on Russian Jews in Germany forced him to emigrate to America....

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Deinard, Ephraim (11 May 1846–24 June 1930), Hebrew author, bibliographer, and bookdealer, was born in Shossmaken, Courland, Russia, the son of Jekuthiel Gerson Deinard and Leah Cohen. In addition to attending traditional schools of Jewish learning, he also studied secular subjects with private tutors. By age eighteen he was contributing articles on current issues to the Hebrew weekly ...

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Fishberg, Maurice (16 August 1872–30 August 1934), physician, anthropologist, and Jewish community worker, was born in Kamenets-Podolski, Russia, the son of Philip Fishberg and Kate Moverman. Raised in a traditional Jewish household, Fishberg was introduced to modern scientific study in a Russian government school before immigrating to the United States in 1890. He attended the Medical College of New York University, where he received his M.D. in 1897. That same year he married Bertha Cantor; they had two children. Fishberg was initially engaged in private practice on New York’s Lower East Side, later securing a post as chief medical examiner for the city’s United Hebrew Charities. There Fishberg treated immigrant patients who relied on the support of the Jewish community and made recommendations to community leaders on how social conditions and medical care for the Jewish poor could be improved. While at the United Hebrew Charities, Fishberg became concerned with the attempts of immigration restrictionists to paint Jewish immigrants as carriers of disease. His early medical scholarship, therefore, mustered scientific data in an attempt to dispel myths concerning “Jewish pathology,” particularly the common accusation that immigrants were responsible for the spread of tuberculosis. Fishberg demonstrated, in fact, that Jews were more immune to tuberculosis than other immigrants, a fact he attributed to their religious customs and previous exposure to urban life in European towns and cities....

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Gordin, Jacob (01 May 1853–11 June 1909), playwright and teacher, was born in Mirgorod, Ukraine, the son of Yekhiel Mikhel Ha-Levi Gordin, a prosperous merchant, and Ida (maiden name unknown). Gordin received both a secular education and a grounding in traditional Jewish studies. Most of his early jobs were as a Russian-language journalist, at which he made a name for himself for his vignettes of Jewish life. He may also have worked in the Russian theater. He married Anna Itskowitz in 1872; they had eleven children....

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Rebecca Gratz. Reproduction of a painting. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-109117).

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Gratz, Rebecca (04 March 1781–27 August 1869), pioneer Jewish charitable worker and religious educator, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the daughter of Michael Gratz, of Silesia, a merchant shipper, and Miriam Simon, of Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Gratz grew up in Philadelphia’s wealthy society, and her brothers expanded the family financial interests to the West....

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Hutner, Isaac (1906–27 November 1980), rabbi, philosopher, and leader of Orthodox Judaism in the United States and Israel, was born in Warsaw, Russian Poland, into a family of prominent supporters of the Hasidic school of Kotzk. He received a traditional Jewish education. Having gained a reputation as a prodigy ( ...

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Kohler, Max James (22 May 1871–24 July 1934), jurist, historian, and Jewish communal worker, was born in Detroit, Michigan, the son of Kaufmann Kohler and Johanna Einhorn. His parents were Jewish immigrants from Germany, and both his father and grandfather, David Einhorn, were leading rabbis of the Reform Movement in American Judaism. Upon the death of Kohler’s grandfather in 1879, his father assumed Einhorn’s pulpit at New York’s Congregation Beth El, and the family moved to that city. There he grew up in an atmosphere infused with a devotion to both religious values and scholarly pursuits. After completing high school, Kohler attended the College of the City of New York, where he won several important literary prizes. Following his graduation in 1890, he entered Columbia University, from which he received both M.A. (1891) and LL.B. (1893) degrees. He was admitted to the New York State bar in 1893 and became an assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, resigning after four years to start a private law practice. In 1906 he married Winifred Lichtenauer, who died in 1922. No children resulted from the marriage....

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Leipziger, Henry Marcus (29 December 1854–01 December 1917), educator and Jewish civic leader, was born in Manchester, England, the son of Marcus Leipziger, a small businessman, and Martha Samuel. He immigrated to New York City in 1865 with his father, stepmother (Harriet Solomon), and sister. He attended New York’s public schools (1865–1868), the College of the City of New York (A.B. and B.S., 1868–1873), and Columbia Law School (LL.B., 1875). In 1882 he earned an M.A. from the College of the City of New York, and in 1888 he received his Ph.D. from Columbia University with a dissertation entitled, “The Philosophy of the New Education.”...

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Lilienthal, Max (06 November 1814?–05 April 1882), rabbi and educator, was born in Munich, Germany, the son of Loew Seligmann Lilienthal, a merchant, and Dina Lichtenstein. He achieved a brilliant record at the University of Munich (Ph.D. 1837) and received his rabbinic ordination from Munich’s chief rabbi, Hirsch Aub. In 1839, upon the recommendation of Ludwig Philippson, editor of the ...

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Magnes, Judah Leon (05 July 1877–27 October 1948), rabbi, communal leader, and first chancellor and first president of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, was born in San Francisco, California, the eldest of five children of David Magnes and Sophie Abrahamson. His father had emigrated from Poland at age fifteen in 1863 and his mother from eastern Prussia in 1872. When Magnes was five, the family moved to nearby Oakland, California, where his father opened a dry-goods store. The Magneses were a close-knit family. English was the language of the home, although Magnes’s mother and maternal grandmother insisted that the children learn German. The family belonged to the local Reformed congregation, where Magnes received his early religious education. From his father he gained an empathy for the Jewish religious traditions and Yiddish culture of Eastern Europe and from his mother a grounding in German culture. In later life his appreciation for both religious-cultural strands in American Jewish life made him an ideal mediator between the two....

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Morais, Sabato (13 April 1823–11 November 1897), rabbi and founding president of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, was born in Livorno, Italy, the son of Samuel Morais and Buonina Wolf. He studied privately with rabbis and tutors, mastering classical Hebrew studies as well as Italian, French, and Spanish. In 1845 three of his teachers awarded him rabbinic ordination. In 1846 he became the Hebrew master of the orphanage of London’s Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue. Five years later he emigrated to Philadelphia to become minister and spiritual leader ( ...

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Neumark, David (03 August 1866–15 December 1924), rabbi, Jewish philosopher, and Hebraist, was born in Szczerzec, Galicia, the son of Solomon Neumark, a shopkeeper, and Schifrah Scheutz. He received a traditional Jewish education and attended cheder (a communal Jewish elementary school) at a very young age while simultaneously receiving supplemental Hebraic instruction from his father who was himself a learned Jew. When his father died, Neumark’s mother ran the family store on her own so that her seven-year-old son would be able to continue his Jewish education. After finishing ...

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Pool, David De Sola (16 May 1885–01 December 1970), religious leader and author, was born in London, England, the son of Eleazar Pool, a businessman, and Abigail Davis. He graduated from University College of the University of London in 1905. He had concurrently attended Jews’ College, where he pursued rabbinic studies. Continuing his studies at the Rabbinical Seminary in Berlin, he earned in 1907 his doctoral degree from Heidelberg University. His thesis, a study of the ...

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Ruderman, Yaakov Yitzchak (14 February 1900–11 July 1987), yeshiva dean, was born in Dolhinov, Russia, the son of Yehuda Leib Ruderman and Shana (maiden name unknown). Ruderman received his initial education from his father, a rabbi and instructor of Bible and Talmud for young men. Enrolling in the famed Knesset Israel yeshiva in Slobodka, Lithuania, Ruderman was greatly influenced by the yeshiva’s legendary spiritual counselor, Rabbi Nathan Zevi Finkel, known as the Alter of Slobodka....

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Zhitlowsky, Hayim (1865–06 May 1943), philosopher and theoretician of Jewish socialism, diaspora nationalism, and Yiddish culture, was born in Uschatchi, a small town near Vitebsk, Russia, the son of Yosef Zhitlowsky, a successful flax merchant, and Hava Hasia Weinstein. His father, a child prodigy, combined rabbinical learning with hasidic pietism and business acumen with devotion to modern Jewish enlightenment. Zhitlowsky disliked the traditional Jewish elementary education he received in ...