Zarchi, Asher

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ZARCHI, ASHER (1864–1932), Orthodox rabbi. Born in Kovno, Lithuania, Zarchi later attended the well-known yeshivah of Volozhin. He married in 1883, continued his Talmud studies, and received rabbinic ordination from Rabbi Isaac Elhanan Spektor, the communal rabbi of Kovno, along with Rabbi Isaac Meir of Slobodka and Rabbi Chaim Segal of Yanova.

Zarchi immigrated to the United States in 1891 and served as pulpit rabbi in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn for a year, after which he moved to Des Moines, Iowa, where he was the only Orthodox rabbi. Zarchi played a central role in establishing America's first Orthodox rabbinic union, the Agudat ha-Rabbonim. He helped prepare its initial mission statement. Zarchi stayed in Des Moines until 1903, when he was invited to move to Louisville, Kentucky, by that city's Vaad Ha-Ir, to become its community rabbi. Zarchi did not serve any particular pulpit in Louisville but rather served the needs of the entire community.

In Louisville, Zarchi was responsible for kashrut supervision and communal charities. He was also the main Hebrew teacher in a small school at the Beth Hamidrash Hagadol. Zarchi was instrumental in forming the Louisville Hebrew School and as chief rabbi of the city, he often traveled to inspect Midwestern mills that prepared flour for matzah baking as well as manufacturing plants in Cincinnati, where he gave kosher supervision for Crisco.

Zarchi's life work included articles of Talmud commentary and Jewish law that appeared in such journals as Ha-Ivri, Ha-Pisgah, and Ha-Measef. He also contributed essays to the encyclopedic work, Oẓar Yisroel, which was edited by Rabbi Judah David Eisenstein. Zarchi died on June 24, 1932. He had no children. In 1946, the Jewish National Fund of Louisville helped establish an Israeli settlement in his memory and named it Naḥalat Zarchi.

[Lynne Schreiber (2nd ed.)]