David de Sola Pool

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Rev. Dr. David de Sola Pool
(Hebrew: דוד די סולה פול)
David de sola pool portrait.jpg
de Sola Pool (unknown date).
Position Rabbi
Synagogue Congregation Shearith Israel
New York City, New York, United States
Began 1907
Personal details
Born 1885
London, England, United Kingdom
Died 1970 (aged 84–85)
Spouse Tamar (née Hirschensohn) de Sola Pool
Children Ithiel de Sola Pool (1917–1984) Dr. Naomi de Sola Pool
Occupation  • Rabbi
Alma mater Hildesheimer Rabbinical Seminary
Berlin, GermanyHeidelberg University

David de Sola Pool (1885–1970) (Hebrew: דוד די סולה פול) was a leading American rabbi, scholar, author and civic leader.

Early life and education[edit]

Born in London, England, de Sola Pool was descended from an old and renowned family of rabbis and scholars, de Sola, which traces its origins to medieval Spain. His great grandparents were Rabbi (R.) David Aaron de Sola and Rebecca Meldola, his great-great grandfather was Haham Raphael Meldola, a prominent English Rabbi. He was also related to R. Abraham de Sola, R. Abraham Pereira Mendes and Dr. Frederick de Sola Mendes.

He studied at the University of London, and later received his rabbinic ordination from the Hildesheimer Rabbinical Seminary, located in Berlin, Germany. He held a doctorate in ancient languages, summa cum laude, from the University of Heidelberg.


In 1907, de Sola Pool was invited to become the rabbi of Congregation Shearith Israel — often called the Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue — located in New York City, New York, the oldest Jewish congregation in the United States.[1] He served as its rabbi for sixty-three years.

de Sola Pool translated and edited the Sephardic prayer book for the Union of Sephardic Congregations in 1954, and the Ashkenazic prayer book for the Rabbinical Council of America.[citation needed] These prayerbooks are still in use in congregations around the world.

His book The Kaddish (1909, third printing 1964), based on his dissertation, remains a definitive and well-regarded work on the origins of the Kaddish prayer.

De Sola Pool wrote several important books about Jewish history in Colonial America including Portraits Etched In Stone — Early Jewish Settlers, 1682–1831 (1952) and together with his wife, Tamar de Sola Pool, An Old Faith in the New World — Portrait of Shearith Israel, 1654–1954 (1955). He co-authored with his wife, Tamar de Sola Pool, Is There An Answer: An Inquiry into Some Human Dilemmas (1966). They also co-edited the Parenzo Haggadah for Passover (1951, 1975). De Sola Pool edited the prayerbooks used for the United States Armed Forces. He also wrote a book, Why I am a Jew (1957), part of a series written by leading clerical figures, which remains a supremely well-written introduction to Judaism.

De Sola Pool held honorary degrees of Doctor of Divinity, Doctor of Hebrew Letters, Doctor of Humane Letters, and Doctor of Sacred Theology.

Respected and admired across the world, de Sola Pool combined spiritual and pastoral duties with scholarship, and also with public service. De Sola Pool was one of the leaders of American Jewry and a world leader of Sephardic Jewry.

Some of the positions held by de Sola Pool include:

-First President of the Union of Sephardic Congregations (1928).

-President of the New York Board of Rabbis (1916–17).

-Member of Herbert Hoover's food conservation staff (1917).

-Field organizer and director of army camp work of the Jewish Welfare Board during World War I (1917–18).

-U.S. representative to the Zionist Commission in Jerusalem, charged with helping to implement the Balfour Declaration (1919–21).

-Regional director for Palestine and Syria of the Joint Distribution Committee (1920–21).

-Founder and director (1922) of the Jewish Education Committee of New York.

-President of the Union of Sephardic Congregations from 1928.

-President of the Synagogue Council of America (1938–40).

-Chairman of the Committee of Army and Navy Religious Activities of the National Jewish Welfare Board (1940–47).

-Vice-president (1951–55) and President (1955–56) of the American Jewish Historical Society.

-U.S. delegate to the NATO Atlantic Congress in London (1959).

In 2012, the American Sephardi Federation mounted a small exhibition of de Sola Pool's correspondence.

PDF Catalogue Pdf of exhibit contents,

His wife, Tamar de Sola Pool, was the daughter of R. Chaim Hirschensohn. She was a National President of Hadassah, and a prominent leader in her own right.

His son, Ithiel de Sola Pool, was a pioneer in the development of social science and founder of the political-science department at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, located in Cambridge, Massachusetts. His daughter, Naomi de Sola Pool, is a physician. Richard (Dick) Rodstein, his grandson, is a voice-over announcer.



  1. ^ Marcus, Jacob R. "Early American Jewry: The Jews of New York, New England, and Canada, 1649-1794." Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1951. Vol. I, pp. 3, 20-23

David de Sola Pool, Why I Am A Jew (NY: Bloch Publishing) 1957, Shuly Rubin Schwartz, The Rabbi's Wife: The Rebbetzin in American Jewish Life (NY: New York University Press) 2006, and the Pool Papers, archives as cited in Schwartz.

The Jewish Encyclopedia (1906)