Silverstone, Gedalyah

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SILVERSTONE, GEDALYAH (1871/2–1944), U.S. rabbi. Silverstone (originally Zilbershtein) was born in 1871 or 1872 in Sakot (Saukotas), Lithuania, where his father, Isaiah Meir, was rabbi. In the 1880s Gedalyah studied at the Rasien and Telz yeshivot. In 1891 the Silverstones relocated to Liverpool, England, where Gedalyah's father accepted a rabbinical position. In 1901 Gedalyah was chosen as rabbi in Belfast, Ireland, where he served for five years. In late 1905 or early 1906 he immigrated to America and in late 1907 he settled with his family in Washington, d.c., and shortly thereafter was appointed as rabbi of three local congregations: Ohev Shalom, Adat Israel, and Talmud Torah. In the mid-1920s he was invited by congregation Tiferet Israel to serve as its rabbi, and in the following years Silverstone acted as chief rabbi of the Orthodox congregations of Washington. Silverstone was active in local Jewish institutions: He was one of the founders of a Jewish old age home, founded the first Talmud Torah in town, and was a member of B'nai B'rith and George Washington Lodge. On the national Orthodox level, Silverstone served as president of the Union of Orthodox Rabbis of the United States and Canada. Finally, following the prohibition laws (January 1920), he and his son Aaron were involved in various problematic aspects of selling wine for religious purposes.

Silverstone was a strong supporter of Zionism and the Jewish settlement in Palestine. He served as a delegate to the Sixth Zionist Congress, which convened in Basel in August 1903. In addition, he visited Palestine several times in 1922 and 1924 in order to examine the possibility of settling there, but this did not materialize, even though he testifies that he purchased land in Jerusalem and Jaffa. In 1936 and 1938 he visited Palestine again.

Silverstone was considered a locally popular and respected preacher and published at least 31 small books of sermons, each of which consists of 30–40 pages.


K. Caplan, Ortodoksiyah ba-Olam ha-Ḥadash: Rabanim ve-Darshanut be-Amerikah (18811924) (2002), 339–41; H. Marrans, Jews in Greater Washington: A Panoramic History of Washington Jewry for the Years 17851960 (1961), 70–72, 89; The Historical Records Survey, Directory of Churches and Religious Organizations, Washington d.c. (1939), 60–63.

[Kimmy Caplan (2nd ed.)]