Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The New York Times' Report on Rabbi Kook's 1924 Visit to the United States and Canada

Rabbi Kook, Chief Rabbi of Palestine
 (Central Zionist Archives,
Harvard Library)
Part 2

Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook, the Chief of Rabbi of Palestine, began his journey to America in March 1924.  Joined by two prominent rabbis from Lithuania, the delegation was met in New York with great respect and ceremony. 

See previous posting on Rabbi Kook's meeting with President Coolidge in the White House.

The New York Times'
Rabbi Kook's boat was met in the New York Harbor by hundreds of Jewish leaders. The rabbis were escorted to a meeting with New York's Mayor John F. Hylan by a "squadron" of police motorcycles and a 50-car procession. 

The Mayor welcomed "the distinguished Jews from the old world.... We are privileged," he continued, "to greet teachers and spiritual leaders whose intellectual achievements are in themselves worthy of special recognition."
The Canadian Jewish Chronicle reported on May 2, 1924 on the rabbis' pending visit to Montreal:

"Rabbi Kook and his companions have undertaken the long and fatiguing journey to the United States and Canada to deliver in person a message to their co-religionists [that] unless the Jewish schools and seminaries in Eastern Europe and Palestine continue to receive ... the support of the American Jews, hundreds of ...educational institutions will have to be closed in 1,300 Jewish communities in the war-stricken lands of Europe.  A half a million children... will grow up without religious and secular education..."

British High Commissioner Herbert Samuel and Rabbi Kook
visiting a Jewish neighborhood in Jerusalem (1925). In the
white suit is the mysterious Mendel Kremer, the subject of a
future posting.  (Central Zionist Archives, Harvard)
"Rabbi Kook of Palestine... is a man of rare mental attainments.  He is a renowned theologian, poet, philosopher and humanitarian.  At the age of 18 he had already several books on ethical and philosophical topis to his credit for which he received a doctorate degree from the Berne University.  From his youth Rabbi Kook was enamored with the Holy Land.  At the outbreak of the world war Rabbi Kook happened to be in Switzerland.  Owing to his pro-ally sentiments, the Germans refused him permission to return to Palestine... When General Allenby liberated Palestine, Rabbi Kook returned to Palestine and was immediately elected Chief Rabbi of the Holy Land and officially installed in this high office by the High Commission, Sir Herbert Samuel..."

H/T Challah Hu Akbar


  1. First I've ever heard of a doctorate from Berne at age 18! Can you post some corroborating evidence? I know that if it's written in the newspaper it must be true, but still...

    1. I'm pretty certain the doctorate reference is incorrect. In fact, I'm certain of it. At age 18 he was at Volozhin Yeshiva and was not in switzerland until 1914.

  2. According to my family tradition, the picture of Rav Kook above was taken by my great-uncle Dr Bernard Homa in London when Rav Kook attended a brit. Apparently, the picture was altered. Rav Kook was in fact wearing a jacket but when the picture was reproduced as a portrait photo this was airbrushed to give the impression he was wearing a frock coat, the expected dress of rabbinical eadesr of the time.

  3. I actually have an original of photo of Rabbi Kook and his committee including my Great-Grandfather who served as a translator outside the White House after meeting the President. I had never seen this image until recently when I found it among his sons possessions when I cleaned out his apartment. I will attempt to attach it to this posting.

    1. The link my brother tried to add is:

    2. The link doesn't work.
      Can you try another way. This photo will be very interesting.