He laments that “liberty of conscience has been suppressed over large areas of the earth.
Abraham J. Feldman was born in Kiev, Ukraine and came to the U.S. in 1906 at age 11. In 1918, he was ordained as a rabbi at the Hebrew Union College, and then served as fellowship assistant for Rabbi Stephen S. Wise at his Free Synagogue in New York. A year later,...
Abraham J. Feldman was born in Kiev, Ukraine and came to the U.S. in 1906 at age 11. In 1918, he was ordained as a rabbi at the Hebrew Union College, and then served as fellowship assistant for Rabbi Stephen S. Wise at his Free Synagogue in New York. A year later, Feldman went on to Congregation Children of Israel in Athens, Ga. and then spent five years as rabbi to the Reform Congregation Keneseth Israel in Philadelphia. In 1925 Feldman was selected as rabbi of Congregation Beth Israel in West Hartford, CT, where he remained until retiring in 1977. While at Beth Israel, Feldman was a leader not only in Connecticut Jewish life, but also in ecumenical and secular organizations.
In 1929 he was a co-founder of the Connecticut Jewish Ledger, of which he remained editor until 1977.
Feldman was prominent in Jewish organizations at the national level, as well. He was a member of the Board of Governors of Hebrew Union College and served on the executive council of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, the oldest American federation of Jewish congregations and a long-time center of Reform Judaism. Long a member of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, the principal organization of Reform Jewish rabbis in the United States, Feldman rose in 1947 to become its President. From 1952-1957, he served as President of the Synagogue Council of America, a joint organization of Reform, Conservative, and Orthodox Jewish communities which acted to coordinate Jewish life and activities in America. The organization did more than act as facilitator of activities and dialogue between the branches of American Judaism, it made the world outside aware of Jewish concerns. In addition, he participated in Zionist activities, and was on the publications committee of Jewish Publication Society and the National Committee of the Jewish Book Council of America. A prolific writer, Feldman penned more than 26 books, pamphlets, and articles.
Rabbi Feldman had a small but significant correspondence from three presidents on such topics as the contributions of Jews to American society, the refuge that the United States has provided, and their advocacy and defense of American institutions. We recently obtained the letters directly from the Feldman family; they have never been offered for sale before.
Typed Letter Signed on White House letterhead, Washington , December 15, 1942, to Feldman. “My hearty congratulations to you and through you to The Congregation Beth Israel on the happy occasion of the centenary of its establishment. In these days of tribulation when liberty of conscience has been suppressed over large areas of the earth, I am sure the members of this congregation will have a renewed appreciation of the security and freedom in which they worship the God of their fathers. In extending cordial greetings may I express the hope that the forthcoming commemoration will inspire all who participate with a renewed appreciation of the strength and power that have their source in the everlasting reality of religion.”
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