Schliefer, Solomon

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SCHLIEFER, SOLOMON (1889–1957), rabbi of the Great Synagogue in Moscow. Schliefer was born in Aleksandrovka, Ukraine, where his father, Jeḥiel Mikhel Schliefer, officiated as rabbi. In the yeshivah of Lida he was a disciple of the founder of *Mizrachi, Rabbi Isaac Jacob *Reines, and, after being ordained as rabbi, he married Reines' granddaughter. After his father's death Schliefer became rabbi of Aleksandrovka, where his wife and son died of starvation during the civil war after the 1917 Revolution and his mother and brothers were murdered by Ukrainian nationalists. For a time during the early stages of the Soviet regime, Schliefer made his living as an accountant, but in 1922 he settled in Moscow and became secretary of the Great Synagogue congregation. Eventually he was appointed rabbi and chairman of the congregation and was very skillful in steering his way between the obligatory contacts with the Soviet authorities and his devotion to Judaism, to the congregation, and to the many Jewish refugees who fled to Moscow during World War ii from various parts of the country.

Though careful not to serve as a tool of the official propaganda line on Jewish matters, Schliefer could not avoid signing a statement of several prominent Soviet Jews against the "aggression" of Israel during the Sinai Campaign, published in Izvestiya (Nov. 29, 1956). At that time he also received permission from the authorities to print – for the first time under the Soviet regime – a Jewish prayer book (3,000 copies). It consisted of photostated pages from pre-revolutionary prayer books, from which any reference to wars and victories (as, e.g., in the Ḥanukkah benedictions) were omitted. Schliefer called it Siddur ha-Shalom ("Peace Prayer Book," instead of the customary Siddur ha-Shalem, "complete prayer book"). He also printed for members of his congregation a Jewish calendar for the year 5717. Shortly before his death he opened and headed, with official authorization, the only legal yeshivah in the U.S.S.R., under the name Kol Ya'akov, which was located in the synagogue building. Under his successor, Rabbi Judah Leib *Lewin, a small number of ritual slaughterers were trained there, many of them from the Georgian Soviet republic. His son moses (by his second wife), who served as an officer in the Soviet army, was killed at the front in 1943.

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Schliefer, Solomon

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