Friday, July 04, 2014

Rav Gifter's youthful 'ambition' and more

Hirshel Tzig posts this fantastic find, Rabbi Mordechai Gifter's yearbook photo in the 1933 edition of the Elchanite.

The rather interesting inside joke says that his ambition is to the "Chief Rabbi of the Hitler regime."

In the class Who's Who, he's listed as the "Class socialist," which apparently sheds light on his 1933 politics.

Here's a very interesting account by R. Gifter's son about his father's transition to MTA from a Baltimore public high school, and success once there, link:
“My father told me that he knew only one blatt of Gemorah when he went to New York to be tested for admission,” Reb Binyamin Gifter related. “However, he progressed so quickly that he was soon attending the shiurim of HaRav Moshe HaLevi Soloveitchik.” 
The YU yearbooks on are fascinating. For example, here we see that Rabbi Robert Gordis' nickname in high school was "Bob the Gob" (Elchanite 1923):

The same volume used the frontispiece for the Vilna Shas printed by the Romm company for its title page:

These volumes can be pored over for many, many interesting historical and sociological finds, and are well worth perusing. Here's one last item, an excerpt from the 1925 Elchanite, Dr. Pinchas Churgin, Principal of the Teacher's Institute of the Yeshivah (later president of Bar Ilan) gives a Hebraist angle to the value of yeshivas in the modern revival of the Hebrew language:


  1. I remember this:

    As it happens, both Mussolini and Hitler (and their parties) were socialists, even if of a different flavor than that of, say, Stalin (and certainly of more democratic socialists). For quite a while in the 1920's and well into the 1930's, many progressives in the US and UK were big fans. (Stalin, of course, was an actual ally for a while.)

  2. Just noticed that one of "Max" 's classmates -- the editor in chief of the '33 Elchanite and voted most popular student -- was the father of a good friend of mine. What a gold mine these yearbooks are.

  3. I spotted the name Alfred Kolatch on the Who's Who page. Besides him and R' Gifter, are there any other famous people on the list?

  4. Alfred Kolatch, mentioned in the Who's Who, also became well-known



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