Mendes

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MENDES

MENDES , U.S. Sephardi family of rabbis. frederic de sola mendes (1850–1927) was born in Montego Bay, Jamaica, where his father, abraham pereira mendes (1825–1893), was at that time rabbi. Frederic became preacher at the New Synagogue, London, in 1873 but in the same year was appointed to Congregation Shaarey Tefillah, New York. He served there for 47 years, as assistant to S.M. *Isaacs (to 1877) and then as rabbi (to 1920). Mendes led his congregation within the orbit of Reform and became a member of the Central Conference of American Rabbis. He was one of the founders of the American Hebrew (1879) and served as a member of the original editorial board of the Jewish Publication Society's English translation of the Bible. For a period he was an editor of the Jewish Encyclopedia. Frederic's brother henry pereira mendes (1852–1937) was born in Birmingham, England. In his early youth he was educated at Northwick College, a boarding school founded by his father in London which offered a combination of religious and secular education. Henry studied at University College, London, and took the medical degree at the University of the City of New York. Henry served as rabbi to the new Sephardi congregation of Manchester from 1874 to 1877 and then immigrated to New York to take up his post as ḥazzan and rabbi at Shearith Israel congregation, serving there until 1923. Championing an enlightened modern Orthodoxy, Mendes used his privileged position as rabbi at Shearith Israel to work closely with all sectarian and social elements in Jewish life. In facing the problems affecting Jewry, he followed his belief in kelal Yisrael ("the totality of Israel"). He was one of the founders and leaders of the Union of Orthodox Congregations of America, the Jewish Theological Seminary, the New York Board of Jewish Ministers, and – at the personal request of Theodor Herzl–the Federation of American Zionists. He was a prolific writer on Jewish and general themes for the American Hebrew, which he and his brother helped establish, and wrote scores of books and pamphlets. Some of his better-known books are Looking Ahead (1899), Bar Mitzvah (1938), Esther and Harbonah (1917), Jewish Religion Ethically Presented (1905), Jewish History Ethically Presented (1898), Mekor Ḥayyim: Mourners Handbook (1915), and Derekh Ḥayyim: Way of life (1934).

bibliography:

D. de S. Pool, H. Pereira Mendes… (1938); E. Markovitz, Henry Pereira Mendes (Eng., 1962), incl. bibl.; idem, in: ajhsq, 55 (1965/66), 364–84.

[Sefton D. Temkin and

Eugene Markovitz]