Monday 29 January 2018


            He was born in Lemberg, eastern Galicia, into a family that drew its pedigree back to Mahashal [Shlomo Luria, 1510-1573] and Rashi [Rabbi Shlomo Yitzḥaki, 1040-1105].  He studied in Lemberg under the supervision of Rabbi Yitskhok-Arn Etinger, later in Jassy (Iași), Romania, with his grandfather Shmuel-Mortkhe Nyemirover, and with Mendel Barasch.  After graduating high school, he studied philosophy, history, and literature at the Berlin Rabbinical Seminary and at the University of Berne.  He received his doctoral degree for a dissertation entitled Der Zusammenhang von Willensfreiheit, Gewissen, Belohnung und Strafe (The connection among freedom of the will, conscience, reward, and punishment).  It was published by Professor Ludwig Stein in Beiträge zur Philosophie (Contributions to philosophy) in Berne (1896); it also appeared in Romanian.  In 1896 he became rabbi and preacher in Jassy.  In 1897 he joined the Zionist movement and assumed a leading position in the Zionist organization in Romania.  He participated in several Zionist congresses, for which he served as both Hebrew and Yiddish secretary.  From 1898 he was active in the organization B’nai B’rith and was serving as the overall president of the entire Romanian district.  Over the years 1908-1910, he traveled through the world’s cities on behalf of Romanian Jewry.  He led the action (1908-1909) against the ugly “More Judaica” oath [required of Jews in court].  From 1911 he was chief rabbi of the Sephardic community in Bucharest, and a founder of Toynbee Hall (1912) and of the cultural association Yeshurun (1914).  In 1919 he took part in the Jewish delegations at the Paris Peace Conference, and from 1920 he was a member of the committee, later vice president, of the Jewish world aid conference.  In 1921 he became Chief Rabbi of the Jewish community of Bucharest and Grand Rabbi of the Jewish communities of Old Romania.  In 1926 he was chosen by the Jewish communities congress to serve as a senator in the Romanian parliament.  He was also a cofounder of the Judaica society for research on the history and culture of Jews in Romania.  Beginning in 1893 he published some 600 articles in Romanian, German, Hebrew, and Yiddish periodicals, among other: the Yiddish editions of the Zionist organ Di velt (The world) in Vienna (1899-1900); Di yudishe tsaytung (The Jewish newspaper) in Jassy (1900); Hayoets (The advisor) in Bucharest; and Yudishe gazetten (Jewish gazette) in New York (a series of articles on the Jews of Jassy, as well as historical surveys and other lightning fast surveys of Jewish history.  He edited the periodical Sinai (Sinai) and authored in German, Chassidismus und Zaddikismus (Hassidism and Tsadikism) (Bucharest, 1913), 166 pp. and other works in German and Romanian.  He died in Bucharest, Romania.

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 2; Dr. Shloyme Bikl, Rumenye (Romania) (Buenos Aires, 1961), pp. 71-77; Universal Jewish Encyclopedia, vol. 8 (New York, 1941), pp. 217-18.
Benyomen Elis

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