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Asher, Joseph Michael


ASHER, JOSEPH MICHAEL (1872–1909), rabbi and educator. Asher was born in Manchester, England, and studied at Trinity College, Cambridge, where he met Solomon *Schechter, who greatly stimulated his interest in the rabbinate and Jewish scholarship. He continued his studies in Europe and was ordained by David Tevel Katzenellenbogen of Suwalki, Russia. Asher returned to Manchester, where he organized talmud torah schools and for four years acted as dayyan for the Jewish cases at the Manchester courts.

In 1900 the B'nai Jeshurun congregation in New York City invited him to become its rabbi. From 1902, when the Jewish Theological Seminary was reorganized, until his death, he taught homiletics in that institution and headed its department of philosophy and ethics. From 1906 until his death he served as rabbi at the synagogue Orach Chaim. Asher earned a reputation as an eloquent orator because of his sermons and popular expositions on Jewish thinkers, which he delivered in Philadelphia and Baltimore as well as New York. He composed an evening service for the house of mourning.


American Hebrew (Nov. 12, Dec. 24, 1909); dab, 1 (1928), 388–9; I. Goldstein, A Century of Judaism in New York: B'nai Jeshurun 1825–1925… (1930), 222–5.

[Alvin Kass]

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