Berkowitz, Henry

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BERKOWITZ, HENRY (1857–1924), U.S. Reform rabbi. Berkowitz was born in Pittsburgh, Pa. He was a member of the first graduating class of *Hebrew Union College in 1883. After occupying pulpits in Mobile, Alabama, where he organized the Humane Movement for the Protection of Children and Animals from Cruelty and wrote Judaism on the Social Question (1888) on labor-capital relations. His family did not fare well in Mobile; a son died of yellow fever and his wife Flora wrote an article in Isaac Mayer *Wise's Israelite describing their plight. It resulted in a job offer from Kansas City, where he succeeded his brother-in-law Joseph *Krauskopf. Berkowitz became rabbi of Congregation Rodeph Shalom, Philadelphia (1892), succeeding the distinguished Talmud scholar Marcus Jastrow. Despite opposition he eliminated many traditional forms from the practice of his congregation and brought it within the mainstream of advanced Reform. Berkowitz established in Philadelphia the Jewish Chautauqua Society in 1893, an educational and interfaith organization modeled after Methodist teacher training and adult education programs, and was its chancellor until his death. After 1910 its focus was changed to educating non-Jewish college students about Judaism. He took an active part in the establishment of the Federation of Jewish Philanthropies in Philadelphia in 1901 and the Philadelphia Rabbinical Association in the same year. He was a member of the Mayor's Vice Commission in order to deal with the rise in prostitution among East European immigrant girls. He helped develop playgrounds throughout the city. During World War i, he toured army bases and was chaplain to soldiers. His efforts led to the development of a heart condition and forced retirement. He was the first secretary of the Central Conference of American Rabbis. Among his publications are Kiddush or Sabbath Sentiments in the Home (1898) and Intimate Glimpses of a Rabbi's Career (1921).


W. Rosenau, in: ajyb, 26 (1924/25), 448–58; M.E. Berkowitz, Beloved Rabbi (1932); O. Levitas, in: aja, 14 (1962), 3–19.

[Sefton D. Temkin /

Michael Berenbaum (2nd ed.)]

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Berkowitz, Henry

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