Solomon, Elias Louis

views updated


SOLOMON, ELIAS LOUIS (1879–1956), U.S. Conservative rabbi. Solomon was born in Vilna, Lithuania, and after childhood sojourns in England, Cyprus, and Palestine, he immigrated with his family to the United States in 1888. He earned a B.A. from the City College of New York in 1900 and was ordained in 1904 at the *Jewish Theological Seminary, where he earned a D.H.L. in 1910. After heading the Barnett Memorial Hebrew School in Paterson, New Jersey, he served as rabbi of Congregation Beth Mordechai in Perth Amboy, New Jersey (1905–07); Kehillath Israel in the Bronx, New York (1907–18); and associate rabbi of Kehillath Jeshurun in Manhattan, New York (1918–21), before becoming rabbi of Congregation Sha'arei Zedek on New York City's West Side, where he remained until his death.

Solomon was an early leader of Conservative Judaism. His first role was as president of the Alumni Association of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America (1914–16), the forerunner to the *Rabbinical Assembly. In 1913, together with Solomon *Schechter, he helped found the United Synagogue of America, serving as one of the organization's first presidents (1918–24). During his tenure in office, the United Synagogue's Women's League and Young People's League were established, the United Synagogue Recorder was launched, and plans were made to build the Yeshurun Synagogue in Jerusalem. Solomon remained the organization's honorary lifetime president, stepping in to serve briefly as its acting executive vice president following Samuel *Cohen's retirement. In 1926, he helped form another umbrella organization for congregations, the Synagogue Council of America, for which he also served as president from 1930 to 1932.

Solomon brought his leadership skills to a wide variety of regional and national Jewish organizations, serving as president of the New York Board of Rabbis (1929–30), chairman of the America Pro-Falasha Committee, honorary president of the American Biblical Encyclopedia, and treasurer of the Jewish Braille Society of America. He was also active in the Hebrew Free Loan Society and the National Council of Christians and Jews. During World War ii, he was appointed by President Harry S. Truman to serve on the Selective Service Panel and received a presidential citation.

[Bezalel Gordon, (2nd ed.)]