Thursday, June 2, 2011

Rabbis During The Depression

Question: I have a 1937 pamphlet published by Temple Emanu-el of Boro Park, Brooklyn, the synagogue of my childhood. This pamphlet was published to mark an anniversary of the synagogue's founding. There is no mention of any rabbis, past or present, in this pamphlet, and I am concerned that during the depression the synagogue was unable to hire a rabbi. This publication includes a history of the temple, it lists past & present presidents and committee members; it also inludes sections on educating oneself and one's children about Judaism. But no rabbis are mentioned at all!

Can you please tell me if Emanu-el had a rabbi during the depression years?

Answer: Temple Emanu-el certainly did have rabbis in the 1930's: The proceedings of the Rabbinical Assembly 1930-32 volume lists Rabbi Moses J. S. Abels as being at Temple Emanuel; the 1933-38 volumes list Rabbi Jesse Bienenfeld as being at Temple Emanuel. Who's Who in American Jewry (1938-39) states that Rabbi Abels served from 1927-1935 and Rabbi Bienenfeld served beginning in 1935.

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