Schanfarber, Tobias

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SCHANFARBER, TOBIAS (1862–1942), U.S. Reform rabbi. Born in Cleveland, the son of Aaron and Sarah (Newman), he graduated from the University of Cincinnati (B.A.) in 1885 and received rabbinic ordination at the Hebrew Union College in 1886. Following ordination Schanfarber officiated at Shomer Emunim Congregation in Toledo (1886–87), Congregation Achduth Vesholom in Ft. Wayne (1887–88), Har Sinai Congregation in Baltimore (1888–98), and Congregation Sha'arai Shomayim in Mobile (1899–1901), before spending the bulk of his career (1901–26) at Kehilath Anshe Mayriv in Chicago. Upon his retirement he was named rabbi emeritus at kam. During his tenure in Baltimore, from 1894 to 1898, he did post-graduate study in Semitics at Johns Hopkins University under Professor Paul Haupt. Schanfarber edited or co-edited numerous Jewish newspapers, including the Mobile Jewish Chronicle, Baltimore Jewish Comment, Chicago Israelite, Sentinel, and Reform Advocate. From 1907 to 1909 he served as corresponding secretary of the Central Conference of American Rabbis. Other organizational posts included being vice president of the Vigilance Association; a trustee of the Jewish People's Institute and the Michael Reese Hospital; and president (and later honorary life president) of the Chicago Rabbinical Association. Schanfarber was a member of the first generation of American trained rabbis and was a disciple of Isaac Mayer *Wise (1819–1900). Early in his career Schanfarber supported a radical form of Reform Judaism, including advocating Sunday instead of Sabbath services. In later years he adopted a more moderate approach to observance while rejecting what he called "secularism": i.e., removing God and Torah from Jewish life. He was called "a cultured gentleman, liberal in thought, though of great strength in his convictions, and a gifted orator on almost any subject which the public man is called upon to deal with." In 1933 he received an honorary Doctor of Hebrew Laws from huc.


Who's Who in American Jewry, 19381939 (1938), 930–31; The Advocate, vol. 101, no. 6 (March 13, 1942) 1–4; Central Conference of American Rabbis Yearbook, vol. 52 (1942), 269–75.

[Kevin Proffitt (2nd ed.)]