Schiff, David Tevele

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SCHIFF, DAVID TEVELE (d. 1792), rabbi of the Great Synagogue, London, from 1765 until his death. He was born in Frankfurt and served as Maggid ("preacher") in Vienna, head of the bet ha-midrash in Worms, and dayyan in Frankfurt. His rabbinate in London was marked by the continued growth of the Ashkenazi population (symbolized by the enlargement of the Great Synagogue in 1766), and by the progressive (though sometimes reluctant) recognition of the rabbi of the Great Synagogue as head of all English Ashkenazim. When the Hambro' Synagogue appointed Meshullam Zalman (Israel Solomon), grandson of Jacob *Emden, as their rabbi, most provincial Ashkenazim still recognized the authority of Schiff, but in *Portsmouth there was a bitter split on the issue. After Meshullam Zalman left London in 1780, Schiff acted for the Hambro' Synagogue also and the rift ended. Overworked and underpaid, he tried unsuccessfully to obtain appointments at Rotterdam and Wuerzburg. Schiff's responsa Leshon Zahav were published posthumously by his son (Offenbach, 1822). Several of his sermons are still extant, but his letters to Lord George *Gordon, refusing to receive him into the synagogue, have not been preserved.


V.D. Lipman, Social History of the Jews in England, 18501950 (1954), 38–39; C. Roth, The Great Synagogue, London, 16901940 (1950), 29, 125ff.; C. Duschinsky, Rabbinate of the Great Synagogue (1921), index.

[Vivian David Lipman]