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Eliezer Silver

SILVER, ELIEZER (1882–1968), rabbi and Orthodox Jewish leader. Born in Abel, Kovno province, Lithuania, Silver early achieved recognition for his unusual scholarly abilities. He studied under *Meir Simḥah ha-Kohen and Joseph *Rozin of Dvinsk, Ḥayyim Ozer *Grodzinski of Vilna, and Ḥayyim *Soloveichik of Brest-Litovsk. Silver immigrated to the United States in 1907 and became the rabbi of united Orthodox congregations in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; Springfield, Massachusetts (1925); and Cincinnati, Ohio (1931), where he remained until his death. Silver was a leading spokesman for Orthodoxy on the American scene. In 1923 he was elected president of the *Union of Orthodox Rabbis, and he remained a member of its presidium until his death. He founded the U.S. branch of *Agudat Israel in 1939 and served as its first president. When the refugee yeshivah pupils reached Vilna in 1939–40 following the Nazi invasion of Poland, he founded the Va'ad Haẓẓalah, and during the ensuing years he applied the same body to rescuing European rabbis, scholars, and students. In 1946 Silver visited Europe and Ereẓ Israel as an official representative of the United States government to assist the war refugees. He continued to aid the many centers of rabbinic learning which were reestablished in Ereẓ Israel in cooperation with the Israeli Va'ad ha-Yeshivot.

In appearance and erudition an Orthodox rabbi of the old school, Silver possessed a scintillating and non-conformist personality and a remarkable sense of humor. His dedication and selflessness were highly regarded, and he was often called upon to mediate in disputes in communities throughout the United States. Silver was a constant contributor to talmudic and halakhic periodicals. He edited part of his talmudic novellae and they were published in two volumes entitled Anfei Ereẓ (1960–62). A biography entitled Ish ha-Halakhah ve-ha-Ma'aseh, edited by Menahem Glickman-Porush of Jerusalem, appeared in 1947.


A. Rakeffet-Rothkoff, The Silver Era in American Jewish Orthodoxy: Rabbi Eliezer Silver and his Generation (1981); H. Karlinsky, in: Shanah be-Shanah 5729 (1968), 366–71.

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