Rabbi Israel Jacob Yoffey was born in Wilkowitz (Ukmerge) in Lithuania in 1874. His father-in-law Rabbi Joseph Yoffey had immigrated to England in 1893 and was appointed Rabbi of the Central Synagogue in Manchester. Rabbi Joseph Yoffey died in 1897 and Rabbi Israel Jacob Yoffey succeeded him at the young age of 23. he founded the Manchester Yeshivah and together with Rabbi H. Hurwitz of Leeds he organized a conference in England of eastern European rabbis, in 1911. He was a religious Zionist, and one of the leaders of the Mizrachi movement.
For thirty-seven years Rabbi Yoffey toiled at Manchester, for the Jewish cause. Finally the opportunity to realize his life-long dream to visit Palestine and see with his own eyes the process of its new rapid rise presented itself and he set out. Rabbi Yoffey was to lecture there on Jewish education and was to make a tour of inspection of the schools supported by the Mizrachi. He died of pneumonia, aged 60, in Alexandria, Egypt, on his way to Palestine.
Knesset Yisroel was his first published book, printed by Joseph Massel in Manchester. My copy has his original address altered with a rubber stamp (left). It has an haskamah (approbation) from Rabbi Jacob David Ridbaz.
The book starts with an article by his father, Rabbi Abraham Yaffe, followed by a paragraph of thanks to the community of the Manchester Central Synagogue for supporting him.
Then there are sermons and discourses on the condition of Israel, both material and spiritual. The discourses are varied in nature. the first one, Or Olam, consists of seven articles and begins with “The Romans asked Rabbi Yehoshua ben Hananiah: how do we know that the Holy One, blessed be he, will resurrect the dead and knows the future?”
The last part of the book is entitled Haderes Yisroel and has short writings on the completion (siyyum) of the orders of Mishnayos and some tractates of the Talmud.
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