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Freehof, Solomon Bennett


FREEHOF, SOLOMON BENNETT (1892–1990), U.S. Reform rabbi, scholar, liturgist. Freehof, born in London, was taken to the United States in 1903 by his parents, who settled in Baltimore. The Freehof family name is derived from Freda, the daughter of Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liady, the founder of Habad Hasidism. He graduated from the University of Cincinnati (1914) and a year later was ordained at Hebrew Union College, whose faculty he then joined. After serving as a chaplain with the American forces in Europe during World War i, Freehof became professor of liturgy at Hebrew Union College. In 1924 he became rabbi of Congregation Kehillath Anshe Maarav in Chicago, and in 1934 he was appointed rabbi of Congregation Rodef Shalom in Pittsburgh. He remained at Rodef Shalom until his retirement in 1966.

Freehof's scholarly endeavors were largely in two fields. The first was Jewish liturgy. In 1930 he was appointed chairman of the Reform Committee on Liturgy of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, whose work led to the publication of the two-volume Union Prayer Book (1940–45) and the Union Home Prayer Book (1951), both of which stressed relevance to modern life and the inclusion of contemporary material in the service. He served as President of the ccar from 1943 to 1945. His second main interest was the development of Jewish law as displayed in the literature of the responsa and its bearing on modern Jewish practice. He was appointed head of the Responsa Committee of the Central Conference of American Rabbis in 1955. He wrote Stormers of Heaven (1931); The Book of Psalms: A Commentary (1938); Modern Jewish Preaching (1941); The Small Sanctuary: Judaism in the Prayer Book (1942); In the House of the Lord (1942); Reform Jewish Practiceand its Rabbinic Background (1944); Preface to Scripture (1950); The Responsa Literature (1955); The Book of Job: A Commentary (1958); Recent Reform Responsa (1963); A Treasury of Responsa (1963); and Current Reform Responsa (1969). The last Responsa collection was New Reform Responsa published in 1980 at the age of 88.


Rodef Shalom Congregation, Essays in Honor of Solomon B. Freehof (1964). add. bibliography: K. Weiss, "Reforming the Links: An Approach to the Authenticity of the Reform Rabbi in the Modern World" (dhl Dissertation, 1980).

[Hillel Halkin]

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