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Rosenberg, Israel


ROSENBERG, ISRAEL (1875–1956), U.S. Orthodox rabbi and communal leader. Rosenberg was born in Poland and attended the most prestigious yeshivot in Eastern Europe. Recognized as a prodigy, he was ordained in Russia in 1899 by Jehiel Michel *Epstein. He immigrated to the United States in 1902 and became the rabbi of a series of congregations: Poughkeepsie, n.y. (1902–05); Bayonne, n.j. (1905–10); Burlington, Vermont (1910–12); Paterson, n.j. (1912–08); and Jersey City, n.j. (1919–20). In each community, he established a talmud torah school for young children. A leading authority on the laws of *kashrut, he was appointed chief kashrut supervisor for several leading meat-packing companies.

Rosenberg was passionate about philanthropy. Under the auspices of the Agudat Harabbonim (*Union of Orthodox Rabbis of the United States Canada), he was instrumental in founding the Central Relief Committee (later absorbed by the American Jewish *Joint Distribution Committee) to help the poor. The following year (1915), he formed the Agudat Harabbonim's Ezras Torah Fund, which supports needy Torah scholars and their families throughout the world. He continually solicited contributions for major yeshivot in Europe and Ereẓ Israel (Palestine) and organized a high-level delegation, headed by Rabbi Abraham Isaac *Kook, comprising to conduct a fundraising campaign on their behalf in the United States in 1924.

Also concerned about the need to produce American-born Orthodox rabbis, Rosenberg was an active supporter of Yeshiva University's Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Seminary, serving as its first vice president (1910–12) and as acting dean during a leave of absence taken by Rabbi Bernard *Revel (1922–23).

Throughout his career, Rosenberg held the highest leadership positions in the Union of Orthodox Rabbis of the United States and Canada, serving as its vice president (1910, 1913); chairman of its executive committee (1911–12, 1914–15); a lifetime member of the presidium (1926–28, 1940–56); a two-term president (1928–30, 1940–43); and honorary president (1930–39). He traveled to Europe with a rabbinic delegation in 1919 to organize relief efforts for Jewish communities devastated by World War i and came to the rescue of Jewish refugees in Poland. He also headed the Talmud Publication Society of Agudat Harabbonim, which published a new edition of the Talmud to replace copies destroyed during the war. Years later, he represented Agudat Harabbonim as a member of a five-man commission that met with President Roosevelt in 1942 and received his assurance that Nazis guilty of perpetrating crimes against Jews would be punished.

Rosenberg was an ardent supporter of religious Zionism's aspirations to settle Ereẓ Israel and served as a *Mizrachi delegate to the World Zionist Congresses in London (1920) and Zurich (1929). He also contributed numerous articles on Jewish law to rabbinic journals, as well as essays to the Yiddish press.

[Bezalel Gordon (2nd ed.)]

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