His father emigrated to England in 1839; his wife and son arrived in 1841, and two more sons were born in 1843 and 1844.
Abrahams was educated by his father and later by Chief rabbi Nathan Marcus Adler. In 1849 he joined the Spanish and Portuguese congregation's theological college. The elders paid for him to attend the City of London School and University College London, from which he graduated BA.
In 1851 he began to preach at Bevis Marks synagogue. He became assistant dayan in 1854, and in 1856 was made head of its ecclesiastical court. He was the youngest man to act as dayan in the London Jewish community and the first English Jewish minister to hold a British university degree.
Abrahams married in 1854. He had 6 children; Joseph and Moses became Jewish ministers, and Israel became an author and teacher. In 1858, on the resignation of Adolphe Loewe as headmaster of Jews' College, Abrahams succeeded him while continuing to carry out his religious duties.
Abrahams was most concerned about educating the young, and in 1860 he founded the Association for the Diffusion of Religious Knowledge, the precursor of the Jewish Religious Education Board.
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Goodman Lipkind (1901–1906). "ABRAHAMS, BARNETT". In Singer, Isidore; et al. Jewish Encyclopedia. New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company.
- Jewish Chronicle, November 20, 1863
- Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
- P. Abrahams, ‘Abraham Sussman — from Berdichew to Bevis Marks’, Transactions of the Jewish Historical Society of England, 21 (1962–7), 243–60
- A. M. Hyamson, Jews' College, London, 1855–1955 (1955), 27–8
- I. Harris, Jews' College jubilee volume (1906), xviii–xix
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