The Responsa of Dayan Jacob Reinowitz, 1818—1893

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My lecture* is based on the Responsa, Halachic and Aggadic works, and letters of Jacob Reinowitz (1818-1893).

Jacob Reinowitz was born in 1818 in Valkovisk, in Russia. He descended from a long line of Rabbis and scholars.1 He had a phenomenal memory, an analytical mind, and a wide and deep knowledge of the Talmud and the Codes and their commentaries. At the age of 26, he was appointed Moreh Horaah, Dayan cum Maggid, of his home town, which was a tribute to his Talmudic and Halachic know? ledge as well as his qualities of heart, among which were sincerity, humility, and compas? sion. He occupied this position for thirty years.

He married Esther Liba Binion,2 who bore him three daughters, Bertha, Leah, and Rebecca. Bertha married Susman Cohen, who became a Rabbi in Manchester in 1875 and succeeded Jacob Reinowitz as Dayan of the London Beth Din in 1893. Leah married S. Glucksohn, of Berlin, and Rebecca married a Mr. Saul, of Berlin.

In 1876 J. Reinowitz paid a visit to his daughter, Leah, and son-in-law in Berlin,3 and from there went to Manchester to his daughter, Bertha, and son-in-law.


The Chevra Shass (Talmud Society) Synagogue, situated in Old Montague Street, London, E., had been founded on 3 Adar

1 Among the manuscripts are novellae on the Talmud by his great-grandfather.

2 She was a sister of Professor S. A. Binion, the Egyptologist. The name Binion is a corruption of Nunez. The family came from Holland, originally from Spain, and the name was Nunez. Letter by Prof. Binion's niece to Mrs. H. M. Lazarus on 17 August 1948.

3 Letter by J. Reinowitz to Rabbi B. Lipschutz, of Berlin, in 1877, in which he refers to his visit in Berlin a year ago. See infra, p. 31.

1875.4 Its primary aim, apart from congrega? tional prayer, was to study the Talmud daily in order to raise the very low standards of such learning in England.5 Its members, who had recently settled here, were trained in the Yeshivoth of Poland and Russia. A year later the Chevra Shass decided to appoint an eminent East European Rabbi. Having heard that Rabbi Jacob Reinowitz was visiting Manchester, the Chevra Shass asked him to pay them a visit in London. He duly arrived and gave shiurim in Talmud and delivered derashoth. He made a great impression on the members, who believed that 'a messenger from above' had been sent to them, and they unanimously decided to appoint him as their Rabbi on Sunday, 3 Tamuz 1876.6 Soon after? wards Reinowitz, who was then 56, brought over his wife, Esther Liba, and youngest daughter, Rebecca, from Valkovisk. They took up residence at 18 Tenter Street East, Good? man's Fields, E.l.

This is a translation from the Hebrew of the original agreement7 between the Chevra Shass and Jacob Reinowitz:

'All of us, originally from Poland and Russia, gathered here to consider our position regard-

Pinkas of Chevra Shass, London, 1875. I am indebted to the Hon. Officers of the Federation of Synagogues and its secretary, Mr.

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