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Ehrenreich, Bernard Colonius


EHRENREICH, BERNARD COLONIUS (1876–1955), U.S. Reform rabbi. Ehrenreich was born in Hungary and immigrated to the United States as a young child in 1879. He attended New York University, where in 1898 he was one of the founders of the Zeta Beta Tau American Jewish Fraternal Organization as a forum for exchanging ideas and promoting Zionism. Ehrenreich earned his B.A. degree from nyu in 1900, the same year he was ordained at the Conservative movement's Jewish Theological Seminary. He became rabbi of Congregation Beth Israel in Atlantic City, New Jersey (1901–2) and served as recording secretary of the Federated Zionists of America. In 1903, he assumed the pulpit of Congregation Adath Jeshurun of Philadelphia, where he was one of the nucleus of founders of the Alumni Association of the Jewish Theological Seminary (the forerunner of the Rabbinical Assembly). In 1906, after affiliating with the Reform movement's Central Conference of American Rabbis, he became rabbi of Kahl Montgomery in Montgomery, Alabama, where he was also active in the Jewish Welfare Board, the Montgomery Chamber of Commerce, the Graduate Menorah Society, and the American Jewish Congress. During World War i, he served as a welfare worker in the military base at Camp Sheridan, Alabama.

Devoted to the education, character building, and leadership development of young people, Ehrenreich purchased a summer camp in Minocqua, Wisconsin, in 1915, named it Camp Kawaga, and directed it as a Jewish boys' camp – albeit heavily influenced by Native American culture – from 1916 to 1951. His philosophy was that he could teach boys the Great Outdoors (god), as well as skills to turn them into men. Over the years, Kawaga attracted (and continues to attract) thousands of campers, winning the approval and endorsement of rabbis and educators from states throughout the Midwest, the South, and the Southwest. Ehrenreich's voluminous correspondence shows that many men stayed in close touch with "Doc E." into adulthood and attributed their lifelong allegiance to Judaism and Jewish values to his influence. Ehrenreich also became a civic leader in the town of Minocqua, where he eventually chose to reside for most of the year. During World War ii, although in his late sixties, Ehrenreich traveled as far afield as Columbia, South Carolina, and Stockton, California, to volunteer as a replacement for congregational rabbis who were away serving as military chaplains.


Guide to the Papers of Bernard C. Ehrenreich, American Jewish Historical Society (; Journal of the 66thAnnual Convention of the Central Conference of American Rabbis (1955).

[Bezalel Gordon (2nd ed.)]

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