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Adler, Cyrus (1863-1940), academic administrator and Jewish communal leader  

Ira Robinson

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 ...


Adler, Morris (1906-1966), rabbi  

Andrew R. Heinze

Adler, Morris (30 March 1906–11 March 1966), rabbi, was born in Slutsk, Russia, the son of Joseph Adler, a and Jennie Resnick. Adler arrived in the United States with his mother and brother in 1913, joining his father who had settled in New York City two years earlier. A shy and bookish boy, Adler grew up on the Lower East Side, attending a Hebrew elementary school and the DeWitt Clinton High School. He studied at the Hebrew Teachers’ Institute, at the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Yeshiva (later Yeshiva University), and at the City College of New York, from which he graduated in 1928. In 1929 he married Goldie Kadish; the couple had one daughter. By this time Adler had developed a fascination with the idea of helping troubled people, and his wife recalled that he probably would have studied psychiatry if he had not entered the rabbinate. After brief service officiating at an Orthodox synagogue in St. Joseph, Missouri, he decided to enter the Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS). His father, who was the principal of an Orthodox school in Brooklyn, nevertheless supported his son’s decision to seek ordination within the Conservative branch of Judaism. Adler was ordained at the JTS in June 1935....


Antin, Mary (1881-1949), author  

Joyce Antler

Antin, Mary (13 June 1881–15 May 1949), author, was born in Polotzk, Russia, the daughter of Israel Antin, a scholar and unsuccessful shopkeeper, and Esther Weltman. The assassination of Czar Alexander II three months before her birth unleashed a series of brutal pogroms and increased restrictions on the employment, residency, and education of Jews. These events formed the background of Antin’s childhood, a world she recalled as divided in two, between Polotzk and Russia, Jews and Gentiles, with the constant presence of anti-Semitism....


Bardin, Shlomo (1898-1976), Jewish educator  

Deborah Dash Moore

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....


Bernstein, Philip Sidney (1901-1985), Reform rabbi and Jewish leader  

Ann Mann Millin

Bernstein, Philip Sidney (29 June 1901–03 December 1985), Reform rabbi and Jewish leader, was born in Rochester, New York, the son of Abraham M. Bernstein, a wholesaler, and Sarah Steinberg. As a youth he was an enthusiastic member of Young Judea, a Zionist organization. In 1914 the national Zionist convention met in Rochester; there Bernstein met the leaders of American Zionism, among them his lifelong friend and mentor, ...


Blaustein, David (1866-1912), rabbi, educator, and social worker  

Claire Strom

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....


Carlebach, Shlomo (1925-1994), Jewish spiritual leader and pioneer of the movement Return to Tradition  

Yaakov Ariel

Carlebach, Shlomo (14 January 1925–21 October 1994), Jewish spiritual leader and pioneer of the movement Return to Tradition, was born in Berlin, Germany, the son of Paula Cohn Carlebach and Rabbi Naftali Carlebach. His father, grandfather, and uncles were known rabbis, members of the German-Jewish movement of return to tradition, which attempted to be loyal to the ...


Cohon, Samuel Solomon (1888-1959), Reform rabbi and scholar  

David Ellenson

Cohon, Samuel Solomon (22 March 1888–22 August 1959), Reform rabbi and scholar, was born in Lohi, Minsk, Russia, the son of Solomon Cohon, a shoemaker, and Rachael Leah Starobinetz Kushner. As a young boy in Russia, Cohon was exposed to both classical Jewish learning and, as a reflection of the changing era, a modicum of secular studies. However, Cohon interrupted his childhood education following the Kishniev pogroms of 1903 and, like thousands of other Russian Jews, immigrated to the United States, arriving in 1904. After graduating from Barrington High School in Newark, New Jersey, in 1908, Cohon entered the Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, where he was ordained a rabbi in 1912. In that same year he married A. Irma Reinhart; they had one child....


Deinard, Ephraim (1846-1930), Hebrew author, bibliographer, and bookdealer  

Jacob Kabakoff

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 ...


Dembitz, Lewis Naphtali (1833-1907), attorney and activist in public affairs  

Philippa Strum

Dembitz, Lewis Naphtali (03 February 1833–11 March 1907), attorney and activist in public affairs, was born in Zirke, Prussia. His father, Sigmund Dembitz, was a surgeon whose degree from a Prussian university precluded his practicing in Austria, which required an Austrian degree. He, his wife Fanny Wehle, and their three children therefore led a wandering existence throughout other parts of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, particularly Poland, while Sigmund unsuccessfully sought a profitable practice in various small towns. The young Dembitz attended schools in Munchenberg, Brandenburg, Frangbord, and Sagan and graduated at age fifteen from the Gymnasium of Glogau University in Frankfort-on-the-Oder. Dembitz’s family did not observe religious rituals. A schoolmate at Glogau introduced him to Orthodox Judaism when Dembitz was thirteen, however, and as an adult he adhered strictly to its tenets and rituals. His one semester of legal studies in Prague was interrupted by the unsuccessful political uprising of 1848. Although neither he nor his family were active participants, they found that the combination of their sympathy for the uprising’s libertarian goals and their Jewishness, assimilated though it was, made life in the Empire uncomfortable. Thirty-five members of the interrelated Wehle, Dembitz, and Brandeis families therefore immigrated to the United States in 1849....


Eckman, Julius (1805-1874), rabbi and newspaper editor  

Gary P. Zola

Eckman, Julius (1805–05 July 1874), rabbi and newspaper editor, was born in Rawicz, in the Polish region of Posen, the son of Wolf Eckman, a forwarding agent, and Esther Cerke. As a young boy, he received a traditional Jewish education at a time when a noted champion of Orthodoxy, Rabbi Akiba Eger, led Posen’s rabbinate. Eckman’s father sent him to London in 1819 in the hope that he could acquire experience in the realm of international merchandising. After three agonizing years on the streets of London, the young boy returned home and convinced his father to allow him to continue his studies in Berlin. Eckman completed his doctoral studies at the Royal Frederick Wilhelm College following a five-year program of study at the University of Berlin. He earned his rabbinic title simultaneously under the tutelage of a variety of traditional Jewish scholars in Berlin and the neighboring city of Prenzlau....


Einhorn, David (1809-1879), Reform rabbi  

Alan Levenson

Einhorn, David (10 November 1809–02 November 1879), Reform rabbi, was born in Dispeck, Bavaria, the son of Maier Einhorn and Karoline (maiden name unknown). Einhorn received a traditional Jewish education at the Fürth yeshiva, which closed its doors in 1824. Considered an exceptional student, he received his rabbinical diploma at seventeen. Despite his father’s early death, he pursued, with his mother’s support, philosophical studies at the universities of Erlangen, Würzburg, and Munich where, like many of his contemporaries, he turned decisively toward religious radicalism. This radicalism included a willingness to dispense with Hebrew, with prayers for Zion and the restoration of the Jerusalem Temple, and with ceremonial laws....


Einstein, Hannah Bachman (1862-1929), activist in Jewish and social welfare causes  

June Sochen

Einstein, Hannah Bachman (28 January 1862–28 November 1929), activist in Jewish and social welfare causes, was born in New York City, the daughter of Herman Bachman, an importer from Germany, and Fanny Obermeyer. Hannah Bachman graduated from the New York Chartier Institute and shortly thereafter married William Einstein, a woolens manufacturer, in 1881. The Einsteins had two children. They were members of a prominent German Jewish Reform synagogue, Temple Emanu-El, founded in New York in 1845. Hannah Bachman Einstein became an active participant in the temple’s sisterhood, established in 1890. The temple sisterhood worked to alleviate the poverty of new Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe. It established schools, direct relief programs, and visitations to jails to help children detained as juvenile delinquents. Sisterhood members also visited the homes of needy families. In 1897 Einstein became president of the temple sisterhood, a position she held for twenty-five years....


Eisendrath, Maurice Nathan (1902-1973), rabbi and leader of American Reform Judaism  

Michael A. Meyer

Eisendrath, Maurice Nathan (10 July 1902–09 November 1973), rabbi and leader of American Reform Judaism, was born in Chicago, Illinois, the son of Nathan Eisendrath, a millinery supplier, and Clara Oesterreicher. Under the influence of Felix Levy, the Reform rabbi of Temple Emanuel in Chicago, Eisendrath decided early on a career in the rabbinate. At the age of sixteen he went to Cincinnati to begin his secular higher education at the University of Cincinnati and, concurrently, his rabbinical studies at Hebrew Union College. Following his ordination in 1926, Eisendrath served congregations in Charleston, West Virginia (1926–1929), and Toronto, Ontario (1929–1943). As a young, aggressive pulpit rabbi, he frequently became embroiled in controversies over such issues as Zionism, anti-Semitism, ritual practice, and local politics. Like many other Reform rabbis of the period, Eisendrath saw himself in the mold of the Hebrew prophets, ever ready to speak his mind publicly for a cause he believed just....


Etting, Solomon (1764-1847), Jewish merchant and Baltimore civic leader  

William Weisberger

Etting, Solomon (28 July 1764–06 August 1847), Jewish merchant and Baltimore civic leader, was born in York, Pennsylvania; he was the second oldest of the eight children of Elijah Etting, a Frankfurt merchant who came to York in 1758, and Shinah Solomon of Lancaster, Pennsylvania. As a boy, Solomon acquired business skills, working in the family store. After Elijah Etting, who was an Indian trader, died in July of 1778, Solomon did not go to Baltimore with his mother and his sisters. Along with his brother Reuben, he stayed in York, evidently to protect and preserve the family's business interests. Solomon in 1782 also became an authorized slaughterer of kosher meats ( ...


Feinstein, Moses (1895-1986), rabbi and rabbinic scholar  

Norma Baumel Joseph

Feinstein, Moses (03 March 1895–23 March 1986), rabbi and rabbinic scholar, was born Moshe Feinstein in Uzda near Minsk, Belorussia, the son of David Feinstein, a rabbi, and Faya Gittel Davidowitz, whose family also was noted for its rabbinic scholarship. Feinstein’s parents named him Moses (Moshe) because his birthdate on the Jewish calendar (7 Adar 5655) corresponded to the reputed birth of the biblical Moses. One of twelve children, Feinstein’s early life was devoted to the study of Jewish law. Initially educated by his father, who was the head of the Jewish court ( ...


Felsenthal, Bernhard (1822-1908), Jewish theologian  

Tobias Brinkmann

Felsenthal, Bernhard (02 January 1822–12 January 1908), Jewish theologian, was born in Münchweiler in the Bavarian Palatinate, the son of Simon Felsenthal and Eva Gall. Little is known about his youth and upbringing. As a boy he attended a secular school in nearby Kaiserslautern, Polytechnic High School, and then in 1838 he enrolled at the University of Munich, intending to pursue a career as a civil servant. As a Jew, however, he could not enter the Bavarian state administration, and in 1840, disillusioned about his future prospects, he returned to his home region. Until 1842 he attended a teachers’ seminary in Kaiserslautern and later was employed as a teacher by the Jewish community in Münchweiler. In 1854 Felsenthal left Münchweiler with his father and sister and joined two of his brothers in the United States. Apparently their departure was part of a larger chain migration of Jews from villages in the Bavarian Palatinate to small towns in southeastern Indiana. First settling in Lawrenceburg, Indiana, he was a private teacher. In 1856 he moved to Madison, Indiana, and was a rabbi....


Fishberg, Maurice (1872-1934), physician, anthropologist, and Jewish community worker  

Eric L. Goldstein

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....


Ford, Arnold Josiah (1877-1935), black Jewish leader  

J. F. Heijbroek

Ford, Arnold Josiah (23 April 1877–16 September 1935), black Jewish leader, was born in Bridgetown on the island of Barbados, the son of the Reverend Edward Thomas Ford, a Methodist minister, and Elizabeth Augusta Braithwaite. Little is known about Ford’s childhood. He was baptized in June 1877 in the Wesleyan Methodist Church on Barbados. After completing school, he took music lessons and became proficient on various string instruments. In 1899 he joined the British Royal Navy as a musician and spent twenty-one months aboard HMS ...


Frank, Ray (1861-1948), journalist and preacher  

Ellen M. Umansky

Frank, Ray (1861–10 October 1948), journalist and preacher, was born in San Francisco, California, the daughter of Bernard Frank, a peddler and fruit vendor, and Leah (maiden name unknown). She was brought up in a deeply religious home. Her mother was an unassuming, pious woman who was fond of reading the Bible, while her father, an Orthodox Jew, was the great-grandson of Rabbi Elijah ben Solomon, the renowned Vilna Gaon, a great eighteenth-century Lithuanian rabbi. After attending public schools in San Francisco, she graduated from Sacramento High School in 1879 and subsequently moved to Ruby Hill, Nevada, where she taught for six years. She then rejoined her family in Oakland, California. To support herself, she offered private lessons in literature and elocution and began to write for periodicals. She also taught Sabbath school classes at First Hebrew Congregation and soon after became superintendent of its religious school....