KAUVAR, CHARLES ELIEZER HILLEL


KAUVAR, CHARLES ELIEZER HILLEL (1879–1971), U.S. rabbi, communal leader, and educator. Few rabbis leave an imprint on a community as did Kauvar during the 69 years he served in *Denver, Colorado, from 1902 to 1971, as active rabbi at the Beth HaMedrosh Hagadol Congregation for 50 years and as rabbi emeritus for 19 years. Born in Vilna, Lithuania, he came to New York in 1881 at the age of two, received a B.A. from City College of New York and was ordained at the Jewish Theological Seminary in 1902, where he also earned a D.H.L. in 1909.

Kauvar brought Conservative Judaism to Denver at a time when it was predominantly Reform on the East Side of the city, with an Orthodox enclave growing on the West Side. He became an active communal leader, helping to found the Jewish Consumptive Relief Society in 1904 to aid traditional Jews who came to Denver for a cure of their tuberculosis. He was president of the Central Jewish Council from 1912 to 1920 and aided in the establishment of the Intermountain Jewish News. He was a life-long Zionist, a founder of Mizrachi in Denver, and has a colored stained glass window dedicated in his honor in the Beit Medrash of the Heichal Shlomo in Jerusalem.

Although Kauvar helped found the United Synagogue of America (Conservative), serving as its first vice president from 1912 to 1914, and becoming the first president of the Midwest Region of the Rabbinical Assembly (Conservative) in 1923, he felt that by the 1950s the Conservative movement had lost its traditional moorings, and he was instrumental in having his congregation disaffiliate with the movement in 1955. In 1956, the BMH Congregation, as it was known, elected its first Orthodox rabbi to the pulpit, and it became a member of the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations in 1972. Kauvar was one of the earliest professors of Judaic studies at universities in the United States, having joined the faculty at the University of Denver, a private institution established by the Methodist Church, in 1920, where he taught until 1966. An endowed Charles Eliezer Hillel Kauvar Publications Fund was established at the later formed university's Center for Judaic Studies in his honor in recognition of his intellectual contributions to the University and community.

Among his published works are Pirkei Aboth Comments (1929), What Is Judaism? (1933), Religion, the Hope of the World (1949) and Torah Comments (1952).

[Stanley M. Wagner (2nd ed.)]


Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.