Gadol, Moise S.

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GADOL, MOISE S. (1874–1941), U.S. founder and editor of La America. Gadol was born in Rostchuck, Bulgaria. At the age of 14 he was offered an opportunity to study in the Alliance School in Paris but felt compelled instead to assist his family who were of modest means. His early career was varied: a clerk in a law office, a salesman, and army service, among other jobs. He continued to study and organized the first Zionist society in Rostchuck.

He came to the United States for a visit and was drawn to the Sephardi community of New York whom he felt lacked any sense of self-identity and was ignored by the far more numerous Ashkenazim. His tool was the first Judeo-Spanish newspaper and he became a publisher, adding to the rich variety of local newspapers prevalent among the immigrant populations of New York. He entitled his publication La America. According to historian Marc *Angel, Gadol convinced the leaders of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society to establish an Oriental Bureau in order to help the "Oriental" Jews. Gadol himself served as the secretary of the Oriental Bureau, initially as a volunteer, and spent many hours helping newly arrived Sephardi immigrants get through the immigration procedures. He also helped many find jobs and keep their jobs. In the pages of La America, he printed a glossary in order to teach Sephardim English. Interestingly, he also included Yiddish definitions, believing that since many Sephardim worked for Yiddish-speaking employers, Sephardim needed to know Yiddish in order to advance in America.

The newspaper included news items about Sephardi communities in the U.S. and abroad. It included poetry and some literary work. Gadol was a forceful spokesman for Zionism, which caused resentment among some Sephardim of Turkish origin, who were cautious about endangering Turkish-Jewish relations. Like other immigrant newspapers, he pushed for the advancement of workers and for individual initiative. Gadol printed several articles by a person who signed her name simply as Miss A, which argued for the equality of women.

Gadol's successes, however, did not last. His publication went under in 1925 and he tried his hand at business without success, eventually serving as a supplier of leather to shoe stores. The death of his wife in 1933 shattered him and only the intervention of a fellow Rostchuck native brought him back from the brink of despair. Once again he attempted to start his publication and he did write and publish a pamphlet Christopher Columbus Was a Spanish Jew.

He died a broken man and only the intervention of his former mentor saved him from potter's field. Still, even in death he remains controversial. A historical article by Marc Angel led to a vehement denunciation by Albert *Amateau, who, at the age of 101, wrote an angry recollection of his dealings with Gadol.


A.J. Amateau, "The Sephardic Immigrant from Bulgaria: A Personal Profile of Moise Gadol," in: American Jewish Archives (1989); M.D. Angel, La America: The Sephardic Experience in the United States (1982); J.M. Papo, Sephardim in Twentieth Century America (1987).

[Michael Berenbaum (2nd ed.)]