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Adolphus S. Solomons: Forgotten 19th Century Communal Activist


Adolphus Simson Solomons

Adolphus Simson Solomons

It was solely due to his initiative that the Teachers’ Institute of the Seminary was formed for the training of Jewish teachers, and one of the greatest joys of his last days on earth was afforded by the realization of his desire that such a school be established.

In 1891 he became the general agent of the Baron de Hirsch Fund and the director of its many activities in America; and continued in charge of that responsible work until 1903, when he became its honorary general agent. His work in this important position was fruitful of results, and much of the success of that philanthropy is due to his fidelity to the trust reposed in him, and to his creative energy….

Though possessed of the creative intellect of a leader, he did not hesitate to follow. Though firm in his convictions, he never obtruded his beliefs. Warmth and geniality, radiated from an attractive personality.

He was not only distinguished as a Jew in his communal, charitable and philanthropic aspects, but he was a deeply reverent observer of the faith as it came to him from his ancestors. He was deeply imbued with all the high ethical concepts of Judaism. It was a part of his innermost being. It was inseparable from his daily conduct, and was the polar star by which he steered his path. With all of his modernity and his unquestionable Americanism, he adhered, not only to the principles, but to the forms and ceremonies of historic Judaism without murmur, complaint or hesitation, and his life was one of happiness. There was never an occasion when he felt that there could be an inconsistency between his religion and his citizenship. Though at all times he mingled with non-Jews of all kinds and· conditions, it was never brought to his notice that they recognized the need on his part of resorting to that form of assimilation which would destroy, suppress or lead him to conceal or apologize for his Jewish convictions. If such an attitude had been indicated, it would have disappeared in the presence of his pitying smile.

His was a life replete with moral beauty, one which it would be well for his contemporaries to study and to emulate. When he died, on March 18, 1910, in his eighty-fourth year, he was gathered to his fathers, a faithful custodian of the noble traditions of his people, and a saintly champion of the deathless mission of Judaism.

About the Author: Dr. Yitzchok Levine served as a professor in the Department of Mathematical Sciences at Stevens Institute of Technology, Hoboken, New Jersey before retiring in 2008. He now teaches as an adjunct at Stevens. Glimpses Into American Jewish History appears the first week of each month. Dr. Levine can be contacted at llevine@stevens.edu.


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