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Abramowitz, Dov Baer

ABRAMOWITZ, DOV BAER

ABRAMOWITZ, DOV BAER (1860–1926), U.S. rabbi, religious Zionist leader, and founding member of the Union of Orthodox Rabbis of America. Abramowitz was born in Lithuania but made aliyah together with his parents as a young boy. He was educated at the Eẓ Ḥayyim yeshivah in Jerusalem and appointed as a district rabbi in the city after receiving ordination in 1885. Abramowitz left Israel for America in 1894, moving first to Philadelphia, and later to New York City, where he served as the rabbi of Congregation Mishkan Israel. He quickly became a prominent figure in the Orthodox community, admired for both his scholarship and his leadership abilities. While in New York, he published a text on the Jewish marriage code, a collection of sermons, and a multi-volume study of Jewish law as well as editing a short-lived scholarly journal. He also joined with Moses Matlin and Judah Bernstein to push for the establishment of a seminary to train English-speaking rabbis to serve American pulpits. The Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Yeshiva, the product of their combined labors, was founded in 1897. Five years later, he joined with a group of other immigrant rabbis who had received their ordination at yeshivot in Europe and Palestine to form the Union of Orthodox Rabbis of America (Agudat ha-Rabbonim). Abramowitz moved to St. Louis, Missouri, in 1906 after accepting an offer to become head of the city's bet din. This position provided Abramowitz with the status and time to pursue a variety of initiatives close to his heart. A passionate proponent of religious Zionism, Abramowitz campaigned on behalf of the Mizrachi movement, starting its first American office in 1910 and encouraging its expansion. Abramowitz was appointed as the president of the American Mizrachi at its founding in 1914. During World War i his focus shifted to easing the plight of the embattled Jewish communities of Eastern Europe. Abramowitz collected money for the Central Relief Committee, the organization established to rally the often fractious American Jewish community on behalf of their beleaguered brethren caught between opposing armies on the Eastern Front. Following the war, Abramowitz returned to his Zionist activities, founding an organization to support emissaries who visited America to raise funds for Palestine. After over 25 years in America, Abramowitz returned to settle in Palestine in 1921. Among his writings are Dat Yisrael (1897–1905), Ketav ha-Dat (1900), and Kuntres Sefer Ketubbah (1900).

bibliography:

M. Sherman, Orthodox Judaism in America: A Biographical Dictionary and Sourcebook (1996); Universal Jewish Encyclopedia (1948).

[Adam Mendelsohn (2nd ed.)]

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