Joseph Silverman

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This article is about the American Reform rabbi. For the mathematician, see Joseph H. Silverman.

Joseph Silverman (August 25, 1860 in Ohio – 1930 in New York City), was a leading American Reform rabbi and author. He was the first American born rabbi to serve in New York City.[1] In 1887, he married and subsequently had five children with his wife Henrietta.

He received a PhD from the Hebrew Union College in 1887; he was Rabbi of Temple Emanu-El, Dallas, Texas, September, 1884 to June, 1885; rabbi of Congregation B'nai Israel, Galveston, Texas July, 1885 to February 20, 1888. While in Texas he was a circuit preacher to the Jewish communities in the vicinity of Dallas and Galveston, and aided in organizing many Sabbath schools and congregations. He was consulting editor of the Jewish Encyclopedia (Funk & Wagnalls). He helped organize the Religious Congress of the World's Fair in Chicago, 1893, where his address on this occasion was titled, "The Popular Errors About the Jews."[2]

At the beginning of 1888, Silverman received an offer from Temple Emanu-El, New York to serve as a rabbi of the leading Reform congregation in America. Silverman started at Temple Emanu-El on March 1, 1888, succeeding rabbi Gustav Gottheil.

During the years of his career in New York, 1888-1922 he was also president (1900–1903) of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, the Eastern Council[3] 1918- and was founder and president of the Emanu-El Brotherhood.

Silverman published many articles and books, including A Catechism on Judaism (1886) and The Renaissance of Judaism[4] (1918). An article from the New York Times April 21, 1912, quoted Silverman at a memorial service for victims of the RMS Titanic disaster. "Not God was responsible for this great disaster but the imperfection of human knowledge and judgment."[5]


  • Nahshon, Edna. "The Pulpit and the Stage: Rabbi Joseph Silverman and the Actors' Church Alliance". American Jewish History - Volume 91, Number 1, March 2003

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