Sola, Abraham de

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SOLA, ABRAHAM DE (1825–1882), rabbi and ḥazzan. Born in London, de Sola was the sixth child of the renowned Dutch ḥazzan David Aaron de *Sola, leader of the English Sephardim. Abraham graduated from London Jews' College, where he was a student of the Oriental scholar, Louis *Loewe. He immigrated to Canada via New York in 1847 to begin his ministry at Sheerith Israel in Montreal (a position he obtained through correspondence). Until his death in New York, where he was visiting with his sister, he served his congregation with honor and distinction for 35 years. In many of his sermons and scholarly writings, he expressed his views on the reconciliation between the natural sciences and religion. His long association with McGill University, beginning as a Hebrew lecturer in 1848 and later as professor of Hebrew and Oriental Literature from 1853, earned him, in 1858, an honorary doctor of laws degree (the first to be awarded to a Jewish minister in both America and England). He was also elected as an honorary member of the Natural History Society, before which he gave many lectures. In 1878, he completed his revision of the Sephardic liturgy (based on the respective multivolume editions of his father and Isaac Lesser). His prayer books became the basis for the liturgy of Sephardic synagogues throughout North America, until superseded by David de Sola *Pool's more recent revision in the late 1930s. Like his father and ḥazzanic forebears, whose musical tradition he preserved, he combined "modernism" with "uncompromising Orthodoxy," and mindful of his Sephardi heritage, his life and works served as an "unsurpassed model" well into the 20th century. His writings include Sermons in Manuscript (Canadian Jewish Congress Archives, Montreal); A Jewish Calendar for Fifty Years: Montreal (1854, with Jacques J. Lyons); The Sanatory Institutions of the Hebrews as Exhibited in the Scriptures and Rabbinical Writings and as Bearing upon Modern Sanatory Regulations (1861).


E. Miller, Abraham de Sola Papers. A Guide to the Microfilm (Montreal, 1970).

[Israel J. Katz (2nd ed.)]