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Felder, Gedalia


FELDER, GEDALIA (1921/2–1991), Canadian rabbi and halakhic authority. Felder was born in Iczuki-dolne in Galicia and studied in the local yeshivah and with other rabbis in Poland, including Yeshivat Keter Torah Radomsk in Cracow. His father, Hersch, immigrated to Canada in 1930, living briefly in Winnipeg and then in Montreal before bringing his family to Canada in 1937. Felder continued his studies in Montreal and then in Toronto under Rabbi Abraham Price at his Yeshivat Torat Chaim. Felder received his ordination from Price in 1940.

Between 1940 and 1949 Felder served as rabbi for several small Jewish communities in southern Ontario: Sarnia (1941–43), Belleville (1943–45), and Brantford (1945–49). One of his students in the last town spoke of the menschlichkeit of Felder and the warm reception students received in his household. Between 1943 and 1945 Felder was a part-time chaplain with the Royal Canadian Air Force for Trenton and District. In 1949 Felder moved to Toronto, where he remained for the rest of his life. Upon his arrival, Felder assumed the pulpit of Shomrei Shabbos, a synagogue founded by Galician Jews in the late 19th century. He taught at Price's Yeshivat Torat Chaim and was a staunch supporter of the Eitz Chaim Talmud Torah, the school established by Polish Jews several decades earlier. In Toronto, he also served for years as the chairman of the Va'ad ha-Kashrut of the Central Region (i.e., Ontario) of the Canadian Jewish Congress, and was a supporter of the Mizrachi organization. Felder did not cut himself off from non-Orthodox Jews, participating in the Toronto Rabbinical Fellowship, which brought together for discussion rabbis of various denominations, including, among others, Walter Wurzberger (Orthodox), Stuart *Rosenberg (Conservative), and Gunther *Plaut (Reform).

Felder achieved an international reputation on the basis of his halakhic works: the Yesodei Yeshurun (6 vols., 1954–70), which deals with laws regarding the liturgy, the Sabbath, and Passover; the two-volume Naḥalat Ẓlevi (1952–72) in which he grapples with the thorny issues of adoption, proselytes, and divorce; some of his early responsa are collected in She'elot u-Teshuvot She'elat Yeshurun (1964); and in 1977 Felder published an edition of Sefer Tanya Rabbati, a work attributed to Jehiel ben Jekuthiel ha-Rofe Anav of 13th century Italy. Felder also published in a host of journals devoted to halakhic issues. In recognition of Felder's erudition, he was appointed one of the five members of the Beth Din of the Rabbinical Council of America.

[Richard Menkis (2nd ed.)]

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