Rabbi Eliezer Silver was born on February 15, 1882,
in Kovno, Lithuania. While in
Europe, he studied under Rabbi Yosef Rosen in Latvia and in 1906 received Semicha from Rabbi Chaim Ozer Grodzinski. In 1907,
Silver and his wife immigrated to the United States, to escaped anti-Semitism of Czarist Russia. Soon after
arriving, Silver accepted a Rabbinical position in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
He became a well respected rabbi within the Orthodox communities. During World War I, Silver became very active in relief
efforts to Europe. In 1925, he left Pennsylvania to take up a position
in Springfield, Massachusetts. In 1929, Silver was elected president
of Agudath HaRabbonim. In 1931, Silver accepted the head Rabbinical
position with Kneseth Israel Congregation in Cincinnati, Ohio, where
he remained until his death.
In November 1939, Silver convened an emergency meeting
in New York City to discuss the recent developments in Nazi occupied Europe. It was at this meeting that the Vaad Hatzalah (Rescue
Committee) was formed, with Rabbi Silver as president. He launched
a fund-raising campaign, collecting more than $5 million, which helped
to provide 2,000 visas to Jewish refugees in Eastern Europe. He also
helped bring Jews to Canada and Palestine, when the United States refused
to expand its quotas. Rabbi Silver organized marches to Washington,
D.C. and lobbying of the White House, the Vatican, and the Kremlin.
Even following the war, when the atrocities of the Holocaust were revealed, Rabbi Silver
began preparing for reconstruction of Judaism. He founded Keren Aliya,
a fund to help Holocaust survivors immigrate to Palestine. He also helped
many Jews escape Communist countries in the post-war years.
Rabbi Silver died in 1968.
Sources: “Eliezer Silver (1882-1968).” American Jewish Historical
Jewish Desk Reference, (NY: Random
House, 1999) pg. 86, Wikipedia, "He
Saved Thousands." Rabbi Silver, Rabbi