Bloch, Chaim Isaac

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BLOCH, CHAIM ISAAC (1867–1948), Orthodox rabbi. Bloch was born in Lithuania and studied under Rabbi Simcha Sisel Ziv at the Yeshiva of Grubin (1880–83) and then in Volozhin, Poland (1883–91), under Rabbi Naphtali Ẓevi Judah *Berlin and Rabbi Ḥayyim *Soloveichik. He received his rabbinical ordination from Rabbi Soloveichik and Rabbi Eliezer *Gordon of the Telshe Yeshivah in 1890. He founded a yeshiva in Plunge in 1895, and served at its head until 1899, when he became a pulpit rabbi in Palanga, a nearby town. While he was there, he also earned the equivalent of a high school degree from the local gymnasium.

From 1905 to 1912, after Rabbi Abraham Isaac *Kook left for Palestine, Bloch served as chief rabbi of Bauska in Courland, now Latvia, and became the district rabbi by governmental appointment. In 1914, he was elected chief rabbi of Antwerp but could not accept the position because of the outbreak of World War i. In 1915, he fled to Russia, where he served as an army chaplain, and in 1916 he organized a yeshivah for exiled Jewish children in the Crimea. He then returned to Bauska in 1920. In 1922–23, he left for America and settled in Jersey City, New Jersey, where he was the pulpit rabbi of Congregation Agudath Shalom. He founded talmud torahs and societies to encourage people to observe the Shabbat (the Sabbath Alliance) and encouraged a five-day workweek.

For many years, Bloch was dean of Yeshiva of Hudson County, then a fledgling day school and now known as the Rosenbaum Yeshiva of North Jersey with almost 1,000 students from kindergarten through mesivta, located in the cities of River Edge and Newark in New Jersey, and also served on the board of Yeshiva University. He was an avid Zionist and member of Mizrachi and the Religious Zionists of America, as well as a member of the Agudat Harabbonim, where he served as treasurer in 1925 and vice president in 1931. He was also treasurer of Ezrat Torah. During World War ii, he worked with the Va'ad ha-Haẓẓalah to help rescue the Jews of Europe.

Bloch's literary career began in 1897, when he edited a column for *Ha-Ẓefirah, a weekly Hebrew newspaper in Warsaw, and he was a regular contributor to the Slutzk Yagdil ha-Torah and Migdal Torah. In the U.S. he was a contributor to Ha-Pardes, wrote many essays, and published several volumes on the Talmud about material related to the glosses of the medieval rabbi *Yom Tov Ishbili, the Ritba.


M. Sherman, Orthodox Judaism in America: A Biographical Dictionary and Sourcebook (1996), 31–32; A. Rand (ed.), Toldot Anshei Shem (1950), 9–10.

[Jeanette Friedman (2nd ed.)]