Kalmanowitz, Abraham

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KALMANOWITZ, ABRAHAM (1891–1964), rabbi and rosh yeshivah. Born in Delyatis, Belorussia, he received his education at the yeshivot of Zavahil, Eisiskes, Slobodka, and Telz, and was ordained by the rabbis Raphael Shapiro of Volozhin, Elijah Baruch Komai of Mir, Moses Mordecai *Epstein of Slobodka, and Eliezer Rabinowitz of Minsk. At the unusually young age of 22, Kalmanowitz was chosen as the rabbi of Rakov (1913), where he later established an advanced yeshivah (1916). During the Bolshevik Revolution he aided Jews who had been arrested by the Bolsheviks and was consequently arrested and imprisoned in Minsk. Kalmanowitz served as a member of the Mo'eẓet Gedolei ha-Torah of *Agudat Israel and was among the founders of the Va'ad ha-Yeshivot in Vilna. He assisted R. Ḥayyim Ozer *Grodzinski in organizing the Ateret Ẓevi kolel in Vilna which later moved to Otwock. In 1926, Kalmanowitz was elected president of the Mir yeshivah. In 1929 he became the rabbi of Tiktin (Tykocin) and also established a yeshivah there.

After the outbreak of World War ii, Kalmanowitz accompanied the Mir yeshivah to Vilna, where it sought refuge. In 1940 he succeeded in emigrating to the United States and there devoted himself to rescuing European rabbis, heads of yeshivot, and their students. Kalmanowitz arranged for the transfer of the Mir yeshivah to Kobe, Japan, and later Shanghai, where Kalmanowitz made himself responsible for its upkeep for the duration of the war. In 1945 he arranged for its transfer to the United States and Ereẓ Israel, and in 1946 he reopened the Mir yeshivah in Brooklyn, New York, with the new arrivals serving as the nucleus. American-born youngsters were gradually attracted to the new school and it became a leading American yeshivah. Later, Kalmanowitz was active in the Oẓar ha-Torah, which aided Jewish education in Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia, bringing youngsters from these countries to the United States to study in a special division of the Mir yeshivah.


O. Rand (ed.), Toledot Anshei Shem (1950), 117f.

[Aaron Rothkoff]