Kirshblum, Mordecai

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KIRSHBLUM, MORDECAI (1910–1993), rabbi and Zionist leader. One of the most prominent leaders of religious Zionism in the United States during the 20th century, Kirshblum was born in Bialistok, Poland, and immigrated to America at the age of 13. He received his Orthodox rabbinic ordination in 1931 at the Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary, which was a division of what later became the Yeshiva University. He accepted a pulpit at the Jewish Community House in 1944, one of the only institutions associated with the Jewish Center Movement in the United States that also housed a synagogue. He held this position for more than 20 years, serving the Bensonhurst Jewish community in Brooklyn, New York. Because of his extraordinary oratorical skills in English, Yiddish, and Hebrew, he addressed many other audiences throughout the city. When he became president of the Mizrachi Organization of America in 1952, he traveled throughout the country on its behalf, forging it into a powerful force within American Zionism, during the five years he held the office. As a member of the Jewish Agency Executive, to which he was appointed in 1956, he served as director of the Agency's Torah Education and Culture Department and of the Aliyah Department of the American Section. In 1968, Kirshblum settled in Israel and became head of the Agency's Aliyah and Absorption Department in Jerusalem. His fervent advocacy of religious Zionism attracted many disciples who ultimately served the movement both in the United States and Israel. His brother I. Usher Kirshblum was for many years the rabbi of the Conservative Kew Gardens Hills Jewish Center.

[Stanley M. Wagner (2nd ed.)]