Krauskopf, Joseph

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KRAUSKOPF, JOSEPH (1858–1923), U.S. Reform rabbi. Krauskopf was born in Ostrowo, Prussia. He settled in the U.S. in 1872. He emigrated to join his brother who was killed on the day before his arrival. He only learned of Hebrew Union College by reading a book from a library, ostensibly to improve his English, and enrolled in 1875 in the first class of Hebrew Union College, receiving his ordination in 1883. At the College he wrote a periodical for Jewish youth entitled the Sabbath Visitor and three textbooks for religious education. After serving a congregation in Kansas City, Missouri, in 1887 Krauskopf became rabbi of the Reform Congregation Kenesseth Israel, Philadelphia, which he served for the remainder of his life. Krauskopf became a leader of radical Reform, introducing Sunday services and compiling a Service Ritual (1888, 19024). A leading figure in the national organizations of Reform Judaism, he served as a vice president of the conference which adopted the Pittsburgh Platform in 1885, the conference which he first proposed to Kohler, and president of the Central Conference of American Rabbis (1903–05). He was active in work for the poor, arguing for increased sanitation and better living conditions. He proposed a program of direct contact between successful and poor Jews, an unsuccessful forerunner of Big Brother programs. A man of forceful energy, he paid attention to the need for Jewish literature, and the outcome was the foundation in 1888 of the Jewish Publication Society of America, of which he was the first honorary secretary. Impressed during a visit to Russia in 1894 by the zeal with which Jews engaged in agriculture where the Russian government allowed, he established the National Farm School at Doylestown, Pennsylvania, in 1896 "as one of the best means of securing safety and happiness to the sorely afflicted of our people." In 1917 he was appointed to direct food conservation among Jews for the U.S. Food Administration. At first an anti-Zionist, Krauskopf modified his attitude as a result of the labors of Jewish agriculturalists in Palestine. There too he was impressed with their agricultural work and soon found himself a defender of Zionism against anti-Zionists.


Feldman, in: ajyb, 26 (1924), 420–47; Pool, in: dab, 10 (1933), 500–1. add. bibliography: K.M. Olitzsky, L.H. Sussman, and M.H. Stern, Reform Judaism in America: A Biographical Dictionary and Sourcebook (1993).

[Sefton D. Temkin]

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