Monday, March 04, 2013

A visit to a Hasidic rebbe in Philadelphia in 1914

This article from the American Israelite dated almost exactly 99 years ago is called A Visit to the Wunder Rabbi, translated from Yiddish by Gotthard Deutsch, as it originally appeared in the Forverts. The visit is to the Talner Rebbe who had recently arrived in Philadelphia, and would spend the next 43 years, the rest of his life, in the United States (see here about his emigration to the United States).

Interesting quotes from the Rebbe: 
"When I left Russia I did not anticipate finding one-tenth of the number of sincerely religious Jews, whom I found in the city of New York. The longer I remain in America, the more I see of the personal freedom, the more I understand how natural it is for sincerely religious Jews to become more devoted to their religion here than they were at home." 
"We already have at home what you call presidents of synagogues, who keep their stores open on Sabbath, and nobody demands their resignation."
Here is an excerpt concerning the kind of Americanized visitor the Rebbe was receiving while the reporter waited his turn:

The entire article below - if it is hard to read, I also uploaded it as a PDF which you can read or download here.


  1. link doesn't work

    1. Really? I'm surprised. I checked and it seems to be working for me and others (as a public Google doc I can see others are viewing it).

      I reuploaded - try this:

  2. Dovid M Twersky got used to America very quickly based on conversations with his granddaughter, and other articles I've seen. He took his son (Nick) on roller coasters in Coney Island, made money in the stock market and lost it all in the crash, owned a cemetery society business (INDEPENDENT TULCHINER SOCIETY) with sections in lots of NY cemeteries,was involved in black market alcohol during prohibition, et al.

  3. I am now going to waste a few hours looking for the Forverts original.

    1. Zackary, glad to oblige!

      Azi, thanks for all that great info!

    2. By the way, my guess is that it was simply the week or two preceding Feb 12, 1914 in the Forverts. Start there and you may find it sooner than you think.

  4. is there anywhere i can access these old papers (american israelite, forverts, etc.) in a digitized format online?

    1. Some of these (Israelite) were digitized by Proquest and are available through their Historical Newspaper Archive. Unfortunately this is paid access. However, sometimes institutions get trial subscriptions and these are potentially shareable. If you email me I can let you know if one becomes available.

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