Schonfeld, Victor

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SCHONFELD, VICTOR (1880–1930), English rabbi and educator. Schonfeld was born in Hungary. He served as rabbi of the Montefiore Society in Vienna until 1909, when he went to the North London Beth Hamidrash, which became the Adath Yisrael Synagogue in 1911. In 1920 Schonfeld took up an invitation to become head of the Mizrachi schools in Ereẓ Israel; dissatisfied with conditions, he returned to his former post two years later. In 1927 he founded the Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations in England, and in 1929 he established the Jewish Secondary Schools Movement. Schonfeld was an outstanding preacher and teacher, wielding great influence beyond the confines of his congregation, partly through the youth society, Ben Zakkai, which he founded. Apart from publishing a number of textbooks for religious schools, a volume of his sermons and essays was published posthumously by his son Solomon (Judaism as Life's Purpose, 1930; a shorter edition Life's Purpose, 1956).

solomon schonfeld (1912–1984) was born in London and succeeded his father in 1933 as rabbi of the Adath Yisrael Synagogue, resigning from this post after 25 years' service; he also took over as presiding rabbi of the Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations. Schonfeld became principal of the Jewish Secondary Schools Movement, which he successfully expanded after World War ii. Together with his father-in-law, Chief Rabbi Joseph *Hertz, he set up the Chief Rabbi's Emergency Council, which in 1938–39 brought rabbis and other religious personnel to England from Central Europe and provided them with positions. Through the same organization he saved, both before and after the war – from Poland in particular – many hundreds of children. He was critical of the methods of the Refugee Childrens' Movement in England, which in his opinion failed to assure their religious upbringing.

Among Schonfeld's publications are Jewish Religious Education (1943), a handbook with syllabi for teachers and parents; the Universal Bible (1955), pentateuchal texts with translation and notes; and Message to Jewry (1959), addresses and articles.


jc (Jan. 3, 1930; Jan. 10, 1930); S. Schonfeld, in: V. Schonfeld, Life's Purpose (1956), 5–7; jc (Dec. 5, 1958), 11; ibid. (Dec. 12, 1958), 20.