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Feuerstein

FEUERSTEIN

FEUERSTEIN , family of leaders of U.S. Orthodoxy. The Feuersteins, who made their fortune in textiles in Massachusetts, trace their history in the United States to the 1893 arrival in New York of henry (Naftali) from Hungary. Instilled with the unyielding Orthodoxy that nurtured such rabbis as Moshe *Teitelbaum, founder of the Satmar ḥasidic dynasty who hailed from the same town, Feuerstein went beyond his modest beginnings as a peddler who plied his wares throughout New York's Hudson Valley to found a sweater mill in Malden, Massachusetts. Soon he became one of a handful of prosperous American businessmen who remained staunchly Orthodox and as such an important supporter of Orthodox institutions. In the 1920s Henry traveled to Palestine, meeting with both Rabbis Abraham I. *Kook, who backed the religious Zionist idea of the emergent "New Yishuv," and Joseph Ḥayyim*Sonnenfeld, the staunchly anti-Zionist leader of Orthodoxy in Jerusalem. He helped sustain Jerusalem's Hungarian community, of which his mother became a member.

samuel (1892–1983), eldest of Henry's three children, all of whom were American-born, expanded both the family concern for Orthodox community needs and the family business, which by the end of World War i as Malden Knitting Mills was worth a then extraordinary million dollars. In the late 1930s and even more after the Holocaust as Orthodoxy in America grew exponentially, the Feuersteins became key figures in helping sustain an expanding number of its institutions – locally, nationally, and internationally. As such they were linked with most of the movement's prominent rabbinic leaders in the 20th century, who looked to them for counsel and economic aid. Feuerstein was close to such rabbis as Leo *Jung, supporting the Vaad Hatzalah (Rescue Committee) in its efforts to save refugees from the Nazis, and Joseph B. *Soloveitchik, helping to found Maimonides, a coeducational Modern Orthodox Jewish day school in Boston (of which he served as board chair). Samuel also helped Shraga Feivel *Mendelowitz found Torah Umesorah (the National Society for Hebrew Day Schools) and served as its president. In 1953 he founded the Young Israel of Brookline, and was instrumental in hiring as its first permanent rabbi, Irving "Yitz" *Greenberg.

moses (1916– ), eldest of Samuel's five children and educated in Ascher's Institute (Switzerland), Yeshiva College (B.A. 1936), and the Harvard Business School, took on many of the Orthodox communal leadership roles in the next generation. Like his father, he acted as an important link between the traditionalist and modernist wings of Orthodoxy. Most prominently he served as chairman of Torah Umesorah as well as president of the *Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America. Under his presidency from 1954 to 1966, the Union became the largest Orthodox Jewish umbrella organization in the United States. Its certification of foods as kosher as a not-for-profit public service, totally free of the element of personal gain and private vestment, became decisive in making such guarantees reliable and kosher foods widely available. Once the ou seal became the national standard of kashrut, companies of high standing seeking acceptance of their products by Jewish consumers began, spontaneously, to turn to the Orthodox Union for that purpose. Moses also mediated between native and European-educated elements in American Orthodoxy, easing tensions between immigrants, who were swelling its ranks, and those who had constituted it in the past.

After Moses' mother, Janette (Kaplan), died, his father married Mitzi Landau. The eldest of their three children, aaron (1926– ), educated at Boston Latin School and later Yeshiva College (B.A. 1947), became ceo of the family business. He expanded its products and presided over its growth into a multimillion dollar textile corporation, now called Malden Mills. Famous for the production of the immensely popular and innovative fleece insulation fabrics under the trademark Polartec, Aaron oversaw the opening of new headquarters in Lawrence, Massachusetts. The success of the company helped the family increase its support for countless Jewish institutions. While other textile manufacturers relocated to the Southern United States and later to Latin America or the Far East in search of lower labor costs and higher profits, Malden Mills, under Aaron's leadership, alone remained in the Northeast, loyal to its workers and unwilling to abandon its roots. In December 1995, the Lawrence mill suffered a devastating fire. Confounding expectations that he would relocate where the labor was cheaper, Aaron chose at a cost of $1.5 million per week to continue to pay his idle workers with full benefits for over three months, while he struggled to rebuild and battled with insurance companies who were slow to cover his losses. Explaining his motivation as coming from his Judaism, which taught him that good ethics was good business, Feuerstein often quoted Jeremiah (9:22): "Let the rich man not glory in his riches," but rather show kindness, justice, and righteousness in his actions. He became a national hero, receiving numerous awards and honors as well as an invitation to a joint session of the U.S. Congress. He succeeded in rebuilding, and in 2004 Congress approved $21 million for Polartec garments for the U.S. military in the 2005 Defense Spending Bill.

[Samuel C. Heilman (2nd ed.)]

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