Blaustein, David

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BLAUSTEIN, DAVID (1866–1912), educator and communal worker. Born in Lida (province of Vilna), Blaustein fled to Germany in 1883 to evade conscription. There he worked and studied, moving to Schwerin to continue his religious studies, but in 1886 he left for the United States. In Boston he established a modern German-Hebrew school – the first of its kind in the United States – and continued his studies. From 1892 to 1896 he served as rabbi of a Providence Reform congregation and taught at Brown University.

In 1898 Blaustein was appointed superintendent of the Educational Alliance of New York City, then the most important social-educational institution for the Americanization of foreigners. With the untrained social workers of that institution he worked diligently to raise the standards of social work and to turn it into a profession. Respected by Jews and non-Jews alike, he accompanied Robert Watchorn, immigration commissioner at Ellis Island, to Romania in 1900 to study the conditions of the Jews there and the causes of the large-scale emigration from that country.

In 1905 Blaustein became the first president of the Society of Jewish Social Workers of New York. Active in Zionist affairs in New York, he was the first nasi (presiding officer) of Order of the Sons of Zion. In 1908 he became director of the Chicago Hebrew Institute, and in 1910 took up a lectureship on Jewish, Italian, and Slavic immigration at the New York School of Philanthropy, where a chair had been established for him.


dab, 2 (1929), 360–1; M. Blaustein (ed.), Memoirs of David Blaustein (1913).

[Judah Pilch]