Meir Panim’s Tiberias Free Restaurant not only provides warm meals, but the opportunity to socialize as well.
When Rabbi Joseph passed away in 1902, Rabbi Matlin continued to serve as a mashgiach for kosher meat in New York City, but now under the direction of Rabbi Dr. Phillip Hillel Klein (1849-1926), who became Rabbi Joseph’s de facto successor. Rabbi Matlin served in this position for a total of twenty years. In addition, he was the primary supervisor for the California Wine Association of New York.
Dr. Klein wrote that he “is one to whom no one can compare in nobility of character and piety…” Rabbi Klein’s characterization was well founded, for one of the students who remembered Rabbi Matlin well said he was a complete tzaddik (saint or saintly person). Indeed, Rabbi Matlin was a sincere scholar who refused to use his rabbinical profession as a “spade to dig with.” He never presided over weddings or funerals, and he refused to issue divorces, or to take any fee for a rabbinical service. With the Chief Rabbi gone and Rabbi Matlin’s employment as dayyan at an end, he confined himself exclusively to kashrut supervision, feeling that it was the only gainful work he could perform that was consistent with his training.
Rabbi Matlin’s family accompanied him to America. In about 1892 he enrolled his son Akiva in Yeshiva Etz Chaim, an intermediate school founded in 1886 that enrolled boys at least nine years old who already were somewhat proficient in Chumash and Rashi. Yeshiva Etz Chaim’s goal was to give its students a thorough grounding in Gemara and Shulchan Aruch. In addition, it provided some limited secular studies in the late afternoon.
In 1895 or 1896, Akiva [Maltin] was about sixteen and had absorbed as much as could be offered to him at the elementary school. His father, pious and anxious to see his son continue his religious studies, assembled several lads of the same age and taught them personally in his own apartment on the top floor of 172 Clinton Street. In addition to Akiva Matlin, were Hillel Rogoff and Aaron Abramowitz. The news of this advanced class spread, and soon the group grew to about twelve students. Rabbi Matlin could not accommodate them in his home any longer and began to seek larger quarters. The father of one of the students who was a member of the Mariampol Synagogue persuaded his congregation to house the incipient yeshiva.
Because Rabbi Matlin suffered from a number of chronic health problems, he hoped to relocate to a location where he could pursue a quiet lifestyle.
In 1914 he found the opportunity which he hoped would make it possible for him to withdraw from any form of rabbinical occupation. On his way back to New York City from an inspection trip to the wineries in California, he visited some of his European friends and relatives in Sioux City, Iowa. They talked excitedly about the tranquility of life and good climate of the West. Rabbi Matlin was so carried away with their enthusiasm that he applied for and received a government land grant in Montana. There he hoped to create a model Jewish community and earn his living as a farmer. Unfortunately, his Kovno background had made no provision for farming, and soon Rabbi Matlin was forced to give up his land. He returned to Sioux City, where he assumed a rabbinical pulpit and earned the respect of the entire community. Rabbi Matlin died in Sioux City in 1927 at the age of seventy-two.
Akiva Matlin eventually attended the Medical School of the University of Tennessee, but he never earned a medical degree.
According to his brother Louis and his wife Rebecca, Akiva Matlin’s studies were interrupted by a delicate religious problem. The Matlins were Kohanim, of priestly descent, who according to Jewish law are prohibited from being exposed to corpses. When Akiva wrote his father that he had reached the stage where he was already dissecting cadavers, Rabbi Matlin was horrified. Akiva was ordered home immediately and found a job as a bookkeeper in a slaughterhouse.
1. Orthodox Judaism in America, A Biographical Dictionary and Sourcebook by Moshe D. Sherman, Greenwood Press, Westport, Connecticut, 1996.
Dr. Yitzchok Levine, a frequent contributor to The Jewish Press, is a professor in the Department of Mathematical Sciences at Stevens Institute of Technology, Hoboken, New Jersey. “Glimpses Into American Jewish History” appears the first week of each month. Dr. Levine can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 email@example.com.
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This is the story of a Holocaust survivor who began her odyssey in Dej, Romania. Chanele Anne Grun Kempler was a teenager when she came to Auschwitz, almost 20 when she immigrated to Montreal and became a famous artist, and 64 when she passed away, alone in her bed, in 1994, on her chest a letter from Yad Vashem informing her that the painting she offered to the organization would be admitted and displayed.
It’s not that I think contractors, painters and tile guys are exclusively greedy, deceitful incompetent people – I think they are just poor businessmen or women!
I look into the flickering flames of the Shabbos candles and I am thankful for the warmth and light that emanates from them and illuminates our home.
Widow of world-famous nuclear scientist and human rights activist, Dr. Andre Sakharov, and an outstanding activist in her own right, Yelena Bonner was invited to speak of the suffering she endured in Stalinist Russia. Instead, the 86-year-old leader of the Russian human rights movement chose to speak about Israel and the Jews. Why?
I wonder why bullying exists in our community and in society at large? I was very surprised at a 30-year-old client’s explanation.
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The sage Hillel summarized the entire Torah by saying, “That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow. That is the whole Torah; the rest is the explanation; go and learn it.”
Sometimes it is hard to help people, and sometimes you can help people by just using whatever it is you have at the time – even an amazing fishing rod.
Musial told the taunted Jackie Robinson: “I want you to know that I’m not like many of the other guys on my team.”
Brooklyn resident David Siller, currently studying in Israel at Yeshivat Yesodei HaTorah in Beit Shemesh, was awarded a trophy for finishing 3rd in his age group (14-18) in a 5-kilometer race for the benefit of the Benjamin Children’s Library of Beit Shemesh.
Last month’s column sketched the myriad of social programs in which the Orthodox American communal worker and leader Adolphus S. Solomons (1826-1910) was involved. Adolphus married Rachel Seixas Phillips (1828-1881), a descendant of colonial patriot families and together they had eight daughters and a son.
There are many observant Jews who contributed much to secular and Jewish life in America and yet have, unfortunately, been essentially forgotten. One such man is Adolphus Simson Solomons (1826-1910).
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As this is our third column on the Reverend Dr. Henry Pereira Mendes, we’ll begin with a summary of his life.
In last month’s column we traced the early career of Reverend Dr. Henry (Chaim) Pereira Mendes and described his extraordinary service to Congregation Shearith Israel in New York where he served as hazan (chazzan) and minister from 1877 to 1923 and then as minister emeritus from 1924 until his passing in 1937.
Beginning around 1840 the Reform movement began asserting itself as a major force in American Judaism. Indeed, with the rising tide of Reform during the nineteenth century it looked as if Orthodox Judaism might disappear. Many synagogues that had been founded by observant Jews and had remained for years true to halacha found their memberships increasingly calling for the institution of reforms and the abandonment of commitment to authentic Judaism.
Last month we sketched the life of Manuel Josephson (1729-1796), who immigrated to New York in the 1740s. Manuel was one of the few learned Jews residing in America in the 18th century. His talents were recognized by Congregation Shearith Israel, and he served on the synagogue’s bet din for several years and as its parnas (president) in 1762. He earned his living as a merchant.
The overwhelming majority of Jews who came to America before the Revolutionary War did not have an extensive Jewish education. One exception was Manuel Josephson (1729-1796), who was born and educated in Germany. His extensive knowledge of Judaism qualified him to serve on the beis din of Congregation Shearith Israel in New York.
Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/magazine/glimpses-ajh/rabbi-moshe-meir-matlin-torah-education-pioneer/2008/04/02/
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