Aaron Levy Green, 1821—1883

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Aaron Levy Green (1821-83) was one of the earliest English-born Jewish preachers and a leading member of the generation which set the pattern for the Jewish ministry as we now know it in this country. As the Jewish Chronicle's leader-writer1 commented at his death:

'The life of Mr. Green was coincident with a remarkable change in the position of the Jewish Clergyman in England?a change cujus pars maxima fuit. He strove and strove successfully to raise his profession from the position in which it was placed half-a-century ago.

'At that time a Reader was no more than a Chazan whose sole qualification used to consist in his voice. It was only natural that his social position was no higher than that of a Sheleach Tsibur (Messenger of the Congre? gation) as Mr. Green used often to point out. Against this degraded state of things Mr. Green protested with all the energy of his nature. He made it an established institution that an English sermon should form an inte? gral part of public worship.'2

From the reports of his contemporaries it is clear that his sermons made a deep impression by their learning, sincerity, and wit. But his influence was felt far beyond the bounds of his own congregation and far beyond the pulpit.

A. L. Green is best remembered, as he would have wished, as a preacher and as the minister whose energy and force of character made the Central Synagogue the foremost London congregation; but he contrived to find?or more probably to make?time for many com? munal activities. He was an assiduous Visitor to hospitals, asylums, and prisons; it was at his initiative that both the Board of Guardians and the United Synagogue established Visitation Committees.3 He involved himself actively in many of the developments of his day, playing a leading part in the formation of Jews' College, the Board of Guardians, and the Anglo-Jewish Association. He was a prolific writer to the press, both Jewish and non Jewish. Particularly effective were his many contributions to the Jewish Chronicle under the pseudonym of4Nemo', which were very widely discussed in the community and which made him, in the words of his obituarist, a 'power in the land'. Though dealing with questions long since settled, and though filled with topical allusions, the letters explain, even today, Green's reputation for learning and wit as well as the respect that his contemporaries held for his judgment.

Though his formal education ended before he was 17 and for the rest of his life ministerial and communal commitments occupied the bulk of his time, he never ceased to be a student. Solomon Schechter (1850-1915) has described him as a 'mixture of the ideal and the practical . . . one of the first of our Jewish clergy [to have] made the . . . discovery that ministerial work is not incompatible with Jewish learning. Thus attending all sorts of meetings and performing all kinds of parish work during the day, he devoted his nights mostly to the study of Jewish

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