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Price, Abraham A.


PRICE, ABRAHAM A. (1900–1994), rabbi and author. Born in Stopnica (Stopnitz), Poland, Price studied with Abraham Borenstein and Rabbi Silman of Chmielnick, from whom he received semikhah. In 1923 Price moved to Berlin, where he became a banker, but with Hitler's rise to power he moved to Paris. Price found his way to Toronto in the late 1930s and became both spiritual leader of Congregation Chevra Shas and rosh yeshivah at Yeshivat Torat Chayim. During World War ii Price was one of only a few who managed to break down the resolve of Canada's restrictionist and bigoted director of Immigration, F.C. Blair. Price secured the release of a number of young German- and Austrian-born Jewish men who were then being interned in Canada as enemy aliens. Price brought them to his yeshivah.

Price maintained an extensive library and had command of a wide range of Jewish texts, both halakhic and non-halakhic. A gifted teacher, he also commanded the respect of the students, and taught Talmud daily to his most advanced students. They marveled at his pilpulim, and when the fiercely independent Price crossed swords with various figures, including rabbis in Toronto, as in the matter of Toronto's eruv, his students rallied to his side. Price eventually ordained many of Canada's leading rabbis, both Orthodox rabbis such as the halakhic authority Gedaliah *Felder and a number of rabbis who eventually were drawn to the Conservative movement, including Erwin *Schild and Albert Pappenheim. Some of Prices' students, embracing ḥasidic fervor, found their way to the then larger hasidic community in Montreal.

Price was the author of a number of published works. In his two-volume Mishnat Avraham (1943/4; 1949/50) he used the method of pilpul to explore various halakhic problems. He also published a two-volume collection of sermons (1945/6; 1974). Not one to mince words, he ended the first of the two volumes on Jewish preaching by charging that North American rabbis were increasingly becoming entertainers, summoning up laughter or tears, but at the cost of less and less Torah content. Price also published a three-volume edition of Sefer Ḥasidim using a manuscript that had not been used in the previous edition. He also included a commentary. During the war, he briefly published a journal dedicated to issues of Torah which included a number of articles written by students of his yeshivah.


Canadian Jewish News (April 7, 1994), 4; E. Schild, The Very Narrow Bridge (2001).

[Richard Menkis (2nd ed.)]

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