Hyamson, Moses

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HYAMSON, MOSES (1863–1949), rabbi and scholar. Hyamson was born in Suwalki, Lithuania, and was taken to England at the age of five. He received his Jewish education at Jews' College, London, where he was ordained in 1882, and his secular education at the University of London. He was rabbi of congregations in England and Wales, dayyan of the United Synagogue, 1902–11, and acting chief rabbi of England, 1911–13. The following year he went to New York to become rabbi of Congregation Orach Chayim. He taught the codes of Jewish law at the Jewish Theological Seminary, 1915–1940.

Hyamson published Oral Law and Other Sermons (1910); Mosaicarum et Romanarum Legum Collatio (1913), critically edited with introduction, apograph, translation, and notes; and Sabbath and Festival Addresses (1936). He translated into English Maimonides' Mishneh Torah book 1 (1937) and book 2 (1949) and Ḥovot ha-Levavot of Baḥya ibn Paquda (Duties of the Heart, 5 vols., 1925–47; second edition, 2 vols., 1962). Combating calendar reform and attacks on kosher slaughtering are his works The Proposed Reform of Calendar (1929), the Blank Day Device in Proposed Plan for Calendar Reform (1931; submitted to the League of Nations); and The Jewish Method of Slaughtering Animals from the Point of View of Humanity (1923).

Hyamson was president of the League for Safeguarding the Fixity of the Sabbath; chairman of the Milah Board of the New York Jewish Community; vice president of the Jewish Conciliation Court of America; president of the New York Board of Jewish Ministers and chairman of the Jewish Academy of Arts and Sciences. As a teacher at the Seminary, Hyamson was especially appreciated for his exact translations of difficult technical terms in the codes and for his broad experience as a dayyan, which enabled him to illustrate the application of halakhot.


J. Berman, in: Proceedings of the Rabbinical Assembly, 13 (1949), 449–52.

[Isaac Klein]