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Feldman, Abraham Jehiel

FELDMAN, ABRAHAM JEHIEL

FELDMAN, ABRAHAM JEHIEL (1893–1977), U.S. Reform rabbi and a Zionist leader. Feldman was born in Kiev, Ukraine, immigrating to New York in 1906 and settling in the lower East Side. He went to college at the University of Cincinatti where he received his B.A. (1917) and he was ordained at Hebrew Union College (1918). He then served in pulpits at the Free Synagogue in Flushing, the Congregation Children of Israel in Athens, Georgia, and Keneseth Israel in Philadelphia, where the illness of the senior rabbi forced him to assume responsibilities ordinarily not given to a younger rabbi. In 1925, he moved to Beth Israel of Hartford, Conn., where he served as rabbi until his retirement in 1968, setting a tradition of longevity that was to mark the religious leadership of Connecticut's capital. In the New Deal, he served as education director for the National Recovery Administration in Connecticut and later was State Chairman of the National Recovery Administration Adjustment Board. He was a founder with Samuel Neusner of the Connecticut Jewish Ledger and served as editor until 1977. He was a master orator, who felt that the sermon may not only inform the mind but shape the heart. He perceived himself as the Jewish ambassador to the non-Jewish world and taught a course at the Hartford Theological Seminary. A distinguished leader in state and communal affairs, he has also been prominent in rabbinical circles and was president of the Central Conference of American Rabbis during 1947–49, President of the interdenominational Synagogue Council of America (1955–57). A prolific author and journalist, activist rabbi and communal Rabbi Feldman wrote 26 books and many scholarly articles as well as literally thousands of journalistic pieces. Among his books are Why I am a Zionist (1945) and American Reform Rabbi (1965), as well as many articles.

bibliography:

L. Karol, "Rabbinic Leadership in the Reform Movement as Reflected in the Life and Writings of Abraham Jehiel Feldman" (Rabbinic Thesis, Hebrew Union College); A.J. Feldman, The American Jew (1964).

[Abram Vossen Goodman]

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