Tziunim ve-Tamrurim, by Rabbi Isaiah Raffalovich, Tel Aviv, 1952

9s Rafalovitz_0001Rabbi Raffalovich is another of the forgotten British Rabbis.  He is usually remembered for his time as Chief Rabbi of Brazil.  However, he was first in Manchester and then  Rabbi in Merthyr Tydfil in Wales, and then for 20 years Rabbi of the Hope Place Synagogue in Liverpool.  He also did something that I urge my rabbinical friends to do – he wrote an autobiography (this book) and left a record of his life as a Rabbi, and thus has contributed to the historical record.

Isaiah Raffalovich was born in 1870 in Bogopol, Podolia, and was taken by his parents at the age of 12 to Jerusalem, Palestine. Educated in the Old City of Jerusalem, he then left for Europe, where he studied in Berlin and London, obtaining his rabbinical diploma at the Hildesheimer Seminary in Berlin.  After previously visiting London he emigrated to England in 1899.  In 1900 he was appointed secretary of the New Synagogue in Manchester.

His first contribution to the Jewish Chronicle, July 13th, 1900, is quite interesting:

Information has reached the Rabbis here that parties of hundreds of
Roumanian immigrants have decided to come to Manchester. The Rabbis
Yudelovitcb, Yoffey, and Dagutsky have formed a Committee to either prevent
their coming here, or in case they do come, to do something for their relief. It is
most necessary that our wealthy coreligionists should hasten to help the Rabbis in
their-efforts, for the consequences might be very serious if the danger be not
forestalled.  Let our people just imagine the sight of a crowd of unfortunate
people swarming in the streets of Manchester, and they are sure to awake
from their phlegm.

Yours obediently,
32 St James Road, Hightown, Manchester

9s Rafalovitz_0002From 1903 to 1905 Rabbi Raffalovich was Rabbi of Merthyr Tydfil in Wales, and then in 1905 he was appointed Rabbi of the newly reopened synagogue at Hope Place in Liverpool.

In Liverpool as well as being a very active communal rabbi, he was a pioneer Zionist and Hebrew educationalist.

In 1924 he was appointed by the Jewish Colonization Association (ICA) to be Chief Rabbi of Brazil, where he was instrumental in developing the Jewish community, after which he retired to Israel.  In 1940, at the age of 70 he became Chaplain to the British Forces in the Middle East.  Rabbi Raffalovich died in 1956.

85 pages of his autobiography are devoted to his life as a Rabbi, mainly in Liverpool, and I have scanned an extract below.  I apologize to those who do not read Hebrew, but I do not have time to make a translation.  On pages 107 and 108 (of the extract) you will read of Rabbi Raffalovich’s role in the appointment of Rabbi Samuel Jacob Rabinovich (about whose book you can read here) to Liverpool. If you can get hold of a copy of Tziunim veTamrurim it is worth reading the whole book.

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3 thoughts on “Tziunim ve-Tamrurim, by Rabbi Isaiah Raffalovich, Tel Aviv, 1952

  1. Dear David,


    What is also interesting about Rabbi Raffalovich is his involvement in photography.

    It is interesting how Rabbi Raffalovich writes about the wider Liverpool including mentioning the leading families of the city, the Rathbones and Gladstones.  (While Gladstones are obviously more famous, from a Jewish point of view, Eleanor Rathbone was the MP who worked hard for refugees – including Jewish ones – that ministers and civil servants tried to hide if they saw her approaching.  The most famous Rathbone was Basil (Sherlock Holmes) and the most infamous is Jenny Rathbone the Corbynite Welsh politician.)  He also mentions Sir John Hope Simpson, not Israel’s best friend.

    Herbert Samuel got his first experience of government through Herbert Gladstone.  In the 1906 government, when Herbert G became Home Secretary, he wanted Herbert Samuel as his Under-Secretary.  The Prime Minister Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman was hesitant, but Herbert G insisted.  Could the mutual Liverpool connection have played a part in this connection???

    Rabbi Raffalovitch does make a few mistakes.  He writes that Montagu Samuel later Samuel Montagu later Lord Swaythling was the elder of Louis Samuel’s sons. However, Edwin (Herbert Samuel’s father) was 7 years older than Montagu.

    He mentions that Judge Gad Frumkin was his brother-in-law, and I checked up that Rabbi Raffalovich’s father-in-law was a Frumkin.  However, this does not necessarily connect to Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks’ family, as I understand from Louis Frydman (Rav Sacks’ cousin) that there was more than one Frumkin family in the Israel of 100 years ago.

    The mention of Merthyr Tydfil interests me.  The long time minister of that community was Rev Eli Bloom from 1901 until his death – I think – in 1939.  Rabbi Yisroel Fine, growing up in Merthyr, knew some of his sons including

    From the dates, I assume that the short time that Rabbi Raffalovich was in Merthyr was in the early part of Rav Bloom’s ministry there.

    Kol Tuv


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