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Abraham Kalmanowitz

(1891 – 1964)

Abraham Kalmanowitz was a rabbi and rosh yeshiva. Born in Delyatis, Belorussia, he received his education at the yeshivot of Zavahil, Eisiskes, Slobodka, and Telz, and was ordained by the rabbis Raphael Shapiro of Volozhin, Elijah Baruch Komai of Mir, Moses Mordecai *Epstein of Slobodka, and Eliezer Rabinowitz of Minsk. At the unusually young age of 22, Kalmanowitz was chosen as the rabbi of Rakov (1913), where he later established an advanced yeshiva (1916). During the Bolshevik Revolution he aided Jews who had been arrested by the Bolsheviks and was consequently arrested and imprisoned in Minsk. Kalmanowitz served as a member of the Mo'eẓet Gedolei ha-Torah of *Agudat Israel and was among the founders of the Va'ad ha-Yeshivot in Vilna. He assisted R. Ḥayyim Ozer *Grodzinski in organizing the Ateret Ẓevi kolel in Vilna which later moved to Otwock. In 1926, Kalmanowitz was elected president of the Mir yeshiva. In 1929 he became the rabbi of Tiktin (Tykocin) and also established a yeshiva there.

After the outbreak of World War II, Kalmanowitz accompanied the Mir yeshiva to Vilna, where it sought refuge. In 1940, he succeeded in emigrating to the United States and there devoted himself to rescuing European rabbis, heads of yeshivot, and their students as a member of Vaad Ha-Hatzalah.

Kalmanowitz arranged for the transfer of the Mir yeshiva to Kobe, Japan, and later Shanghai, where Kalmanowitz made himself responsible for its upkeep for the duration of the war. In 1945, he arranged for its transfer to the United States and Ereẓ Israel, and in 1946 he reopened the Mir yeshiva in Brooklyn, New York, with the new arrivals serving as the nucleus. American-born youngsters were gradually attracted to the new school and it became a leading American yeshiva. Later, Kalmanowitz was active in the Oẓar ha-Torah, which aided Jewish education in Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia, bringing youngsters from these countries to the United States to study in a special division of the Mir yeshiva.


O. Rand (ed.), Toledot Anshei Shem (1950), 117f.

Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2007 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.