Joseph, Henry

views updated


JOSEPH, HENRY (1838–1913), first rabbi of the Argentine Republic. Born in England, Joseph arrived in Argentina in 1860 and became a successful businessman. He was very active in organizing the first Jewish institution of the country, the Congregación Israelita de la República Argentina, in 1862. He was elected by the members of the congregation as their "rabbi," and his nomination was approved by the chief rabbi of the French Consistory, Isidor Lazare, in 1882. His election as rabbi originated principally in the need for a religious authority to register Jewish births, marriages, and deaths. Joseph's wife, a Christian, converted to Judaism immediately after his appointment, but his children married out of the Jewish faith. Joseph was very active as a religious and social leader, performed weddings, religious services, and occasionally preached in Spanish to the community of West European Jews in Buenos Aires. In the early 1880s he organized a fund to help the persecuted Jews in Russia. He also was of great help to the first group of East European Jews to arrive in Argentina in 1889.

[Victor A. Mirelman]