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Eliezer Silver


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 Society, American Jewish Desk Reference, (NY: Random House, 1999) pg. 86, Wikipedia, "He Saved Thousands." Rabbi Silver, Rabbi Eliezer Silver