Aaron, Israel

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AARON, ISRAEL (1859–1912), U.S. rabbi. Aaron was born in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, but at the age of 16 moved to Cincinnati to join the first class of students entering the Hebrew Union College. There was little in his background to suggest a rabbinical career. He attended public schools and his parents were immigrants from Hesse-Darmstadt, where his father had served as a junior officer in the military. In 1883, Aaron, together with Henry *Berkowitz, Joseph *Krauskopf, and David *Philipson, formed the first cohort of students to graduate from the new seminary. He later received a doctorate in divinity from the same institution. After graduating, Aaron served the synagogue in Fort Wayne, Indiana, for four years before assuming the pulpit of Temple Beth Zion in Buffalo, New York. Aaron thrived in this latter setting. He was a keen advocate of the reintroduction of congregational singing, seeking to extend the success of his own endeavors in Buffalo to the wider Reform movement. Aaron was also a scholar of medieval Jewry, writing about Muslim-Jewish relations during the Renaissance, and the Iberian Jewish community. As with many of his contemporaries in the Reform rabbinate, he was also active in the civic and cultural life of his city. Aaron was an immensely successful pulpit rabbi, overseeing both the building of a new temple and the enlargement of its membership. This new temple, designed by Edward Kent, an architect who later perished in the Titanic disaster, was also ill-omened for Aaron. Barely four days after a celebration organized by his congregation to honor his 25th year of service to Temple Beth Zion, Aaron died at age 52 of an ear infection. David Philipson, a lifelong friend, officiated at both services.


American Israelite (May 16, 1912); American Jewish Year Book, 5 (1903–4); ccar Yearbook, 23 (1913); New York Times (May 16, 1912); Universal Jewish Encyclopedia (1948).

[Adam Mendelsohn (2nd ed.)]