Kornfeld, Joseph Saul

views updated


KORNFELD, JOSEPH SAUL (1876–1943), U.S. rabbi and diplomat. Born in Austria-Hungary, Kornfeld went to the United States as a child and received his rabbinical ordination at Hebrew Union College in 1899. After serving congregations in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and Montreal, Canada, he was appointed to Temple B'nai Israel, Columbus, Ohio, in 1907. In Columbus he became active in civic affairs, being elected to the Charter Commission (1913) and the Board of Education (1914–19). He was on friendly terms with the leading Ohio politicians and campaigned for Warren G. Harding in the 1920 presidential election. In 1921 Harding appointed him U.S. ambassador to Persia, where he was called upon at various times to intervene at the court of the Shah in favor of his coreligionists. His presence in Teheran had a beneficial effect on the Jews. Kornfeld returned to the United States in 1925 and became rabbi of the Collingwood Avenue Temple, Toledo, Ohio, remaining there until 1934. Thereafter he devoted himself to lecturing. At the time of his death he was acting rabbi of Holy Blossom Temple, Toronto, Canada.

[Walter Joseph Fischel]