Mike Tress

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Elimelech Gavriel "Mike" Tress (1909 – July 9, 1967) was the national president of Agudath Israel of America from the 1940s until his death.[1] He was a major figure in the movement's expansion and its chief lay leader until his death.

Tress was the son of an immigrant and born in the United States. Without training to become a rabbi[2], he was later titled as 'Reb Elimelech' due to his influential work. He was also known by his nickname "Mike". Before and during the Second World War, he founded various youth organizations to counteract assimilation.[3]

Tress was President of Agudath Israel of America for many years, helping the Union to become one of the greatest political, communal, and cultural representations of the orthodoxy of its time in the United States. He led the organization until his death, his successor became Moshe Sherer. To finance the Agudath Israel and help Jews escape from Europe, he gave up his business as a businessman and used his fortune to do so. Tress rescued many European Jews at the time of Holocaust through his engagement.[4]

His biographer is the journalist and spokeperson Jonathan Rosenblum, whose work is based in part on research by historian David Kranzler.[5]

In his honor, the Agudath Israel awards the Reb Elimelech Tress Memorial Award.


His life and work are the subject of a biography:

  • Jonathan Rosenblum: They Called Him Mike. Reb Elemelech Tress, his era, hatzalah and the building of an American Orthodoxy. Artscroll Publications, Brooklyn, N.Y. 1995, ISBN 0-89906-623-2.

External links[edit]


  1. ^ "Michael Tress, Leader of Orthodox Jewry is Dead" (PDF). Jewish Telegraphic Agency. 10 Jul 1967. Retrieved 13 June 2013.
  2. ^ Yoel Finkelman: Nostalgia, Inspiration, Ambivalence: Eastern Europe, Immigration, and the Construction of Collective Memory in Contemporary American Haredi Historiography. In: Jewish History , Volume 23, No 1, 2009, pp. 57-82, here p. 67. ISSN 0334-701X (JSTOR Stable URL).
  3. ^ A quick review at www.goodreads.com
  4. ^ Gerson Kranzler: He Who Saves A Soul in Israel
  5. ^ cf. catalog entry, National Library of Israel