Rabbi 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:
THE EXODUS OF ROUMANIAN JEWS.
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.
32 St James Road, Hightown, Manchester
From 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.