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Golinkin, Mordechai Ya'akov


GOLINKIN, MORDECHAI YA'AKOV (1884–1974), Orthodox rabbi, religious Zionist, av bet din. Born in the Kherson district of Ukraine and orphaned at a young age, Golinkin studied in the Lithuanian yeshivot of Lomza, Tiktin, and Lida, where he was called "the Khersoner Ilui" (prodigy). He was ordained in 1904 by Rabbi Mordechai (Slonimer) Oshminer and Rabbi Binyamin Ze'ev Zakheim of Yekaterinoslav.

In 1913 he published a book of sermons (Derashot Harim, Jerusalem, 20012). He then became the av bet vin and de facto chief rabbi of Zhitomir, capital of the Volyn (Volhynia) district of Ukraine where he developed a youth organization called Tiferet Bakhurim for 1,200 young men. Golinkin developed a good relationship with the governor of Volyn. As a result, Golinkin persuaded him to exempt from the Russian draft the yeshivah students of Novaredok who had fled to Zhitomir and he also prevented a blood libel in Zhitomir at the time of the *Beilis blood libel in Kiev in the fall of 1913.

After the February Revolution of 1917, Golinkin and Rabbi Solomon *Aronson of Kiev (later of Tel Aviv) and Rabbi Judah Leib *Zirelson of Kishinev formed Aḥdut, which proclaimed the religious and cultural rights of the Jews of Russia. After the October Revolution of 1917 and the subsequent pogroms of *Petlyura, Golinkin and his family fled to Vilna, where he worked at a number of Jewish institutions. Golinkin served as rabbi of Dokshitz near Vilna, where he founded a Yavneh religious Zionist day school and traveled to other cities to found Yavneh schools. From 1936 to 1939 he served as chief rabbi and av bet din of the Free State of Danzig, where he supervised the kashrut on the many ships embarking from Danzig and Gdynia. Since the Nazis forbade kosher slaughter, he arranged sheḥitah in the Polish town of Ossawa. After most of the Jews of Danzig fled before the Holocaust, Golinkin escaped to the United States in 1939, where he served as rabbi of Worcester, Massachusetts, until his death.

In October 1943, Golinkin participated in the historic March on Washington demanding action to save the Jews of Europe.

Golinkin also served as av bet din of the Orthodox Rabbinical Court of Justice of the Associated Synagogues of Massachusetts for over two decades, presiding over cases of national prominence. In 1969–1970, the Boston bet din spent 10 months studying the subject of civil disobedience and conscientious objection in light of the Vietnam War. In January 1970, it issued a 54-page responsum to the seven major questions. The Boston bet din showed that a rabbinic court could function as an activist court, which could go way beyond the domain of family matters.

Golinkin's son Rabbi Noah *Golinkin, a Conservative rabbi, was an activist during the Holocaust and a prominent Hebrew educator in North America.


R. Medoff, The Jewish Chronicle (of Worcester), 77:20 (Sept. 25, 2003), 1, 21; A.Z. Rand (ed.), Toledot Anshei Shem (1950), 8; R. Gelmis, Look Magazine (April 1, 1969), 69; H. Levine and L. Harmon, The Death of an American Jewish Community (1992), 184–193; Newsweek (April 17, 1972), 54–55; I.M. Schaeffer, The National Jewish Monthly, 89:3 (November 1974), 28–38.

[David Golinkin (2nd ed.)]

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