Feinberg, Louis

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FEINBERG, LOUIS (1887–1949), U.S. Conservative rabbi and community leader. Born in Rossieny, Lithuania, Feinberg was brought to the United States in 1903. He was educated in the public schools of Philadelphia and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a B.A. His Jewish education was received at the Talmud Torah, Gratz and Dropsie Colleges, and Yeshivah Mishkan Israel. He entered the Jewish Theological Seminary, was ordained in 1916, graduating with honors and serving as valedictorian of his class. He served two years as rabbi of Congregation Ohel Jacob in Philadelphia. In 1918, he came to Cincinnati as rabbi of Adath Israel (organized in 1847). He was the first of the modern American rabbis to come to Cincinnati. He emphasized the Saturday morning service, introducing weekly sermons in English and congregational singing. He organized the Adathean Society to involve young men and women in congregational activity. He established a congregational school when it became apparent that many members' children were not attending the local Talmud Torah schools. In 1933, he introduced a combined graduation and confirmation service and thus, for the first time in a traditional synagogue, girls became eligible for confirmation. In 1947, the congregation adopted an amendment to the constitution which provided for representation of women on the Board of Trustees.

As the congregation grew, he advocated for the enlargement of the synagogue, eventually undertaking a significant building fund campaign. In 1927, a magnificent stone building was erected at a cost of $450,000. Several of its features exhibited Rabbi Feinberg's influence: the interior decoration developed by Dr. Boris *Schatz of the *Bezalel School of Arts and Crafts in Palestine, and the monumental dome comprising the ceiling of the sanctuary, its rim inscribed with Hebrew inscriptions from the Pentateuch, prophets, medieval philosophers, and the modern poet Ḥayyim Naḥman *Bialik, selected and arranged by Rabbi Feinberg.

In addition to his activity within the congregation, Feinberg took a prominent role in the larger community. He served as president of the local Board of Rabbis and on the boards of the Bureau of Jewish Education, United Jewish Social Agencies, and Jewish Community Council. He was active in Mizrachi and in the Zionist Organization of America. A passionate Zionist, he helped establish a Palestine Scholarship Program in the community, which enabled five young members of his congregation to spend an entire year in Israel. He was a founder of the *Young Judea movement, and an editor of Our Jewish Youth which later became Young Judean. In 1937, at the age of 50, he visited Palestine himself for the first time. He called Zionism "the newest development of the Messianic idea."

Feinberg was a member of the Law Committee of the Jewish Theological Seminary and was a founder of the Menorah Society at the University of Pennsylvania. He translated the Laws of Charity from the Shulhan Arukh for the New York School of Philanthropy, published articles on Jewish law in Hebrew, Yiddish, and English, and wrote short stories about Jewish life under the pseudonym Yishuvnik. A graduate fellowship at jts was created in his memory, and the congregation sponsored the publication of a posthumous collection of his essays, The Spiritual Foundations of Judaism, edited by Emanual Gamoran.

[Nancy Klein (2nd ed.)]