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Bernstein, Philip Sidney


BERNSTEIN, PHILIP SIDNEY (1901–1985), U.S. rabbi. Bernstein was born in Rochester, N.Y., and was ordained in the first graduating class of the Jewish Institute of Religion (1926). He served as rabbi of Rochester's Congregation B'rith Kodesh for half a century. Bernstein was a committed pacifist until the German invasion of Poland, which forced him to rethink his views. During World War ii he was executive director of the committee on army and navy religious activities of the Jewish Welfare Board, a position he held until 1946. He was responsible for supervising the 300 rabbis of all denominations serving in the U.S. Armed forces. His service propelled him into national Jewish life. He served as a member of the Zionist Emergency Council and helped form the American Christian Palestine Committee. In 1946 he returned to his congregation in Rochester, only to leave again when he was appointed by President Truman as Jewish adviser to U.S. Army commanders in Europe (1946–47), where he played a significant role at the time in alleviating the conditions of Holocaust survivors and making conditions in the Displaced Persons camps less deplorable. In his non-military role, he assisted in moving Jews from Russian-occupied Poland to American-occupied Germany, working directly with *Beriḥah. In 1947 he returned to Rochester once again. He was president of the Central Conference of American Rabbis (1950–52). He was chairman (1954–68), and subsequently honorary chairman, of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, then in its formative years. He was the author of What the Jews Believe (1951), which grew out of a series of articles published in Life Magazine. He also wrote Rabbis at War (1971), an account of his war years and the service of his colleagues to 600,000 American Jews who served in World War ii.

add. bibliography:

Y. Bauer, Flight and Rescue: Brichah, the Organized Escape of Jewish Survivors of Eastern Europe (1970); T.P. Liebschutz, "Rabbi Philip S. Bernstein and the Jewish Displaced Persons," Rabbinic Thesis, huc-jir (1965).

[Malcolm H. Stern /

Michael Berenbaum (2nd ed.)]

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