Monday, August 19, 2013

1915 Rigshe Yehuda by Rabbi Yehuda Zundel Coblenz (Koblentz) - Interesting combination of Prenumeranten רגשי יהודה - יהודה זונדל קובלנץ

Title page of Rigshe Yehuda
In 1915 Rabbi Yehuda Zundel Coblenz published his Rigshe Yehuda. Skimming through his Prenumeranten (pre-subscriber) lists, I discovered some noted people who are listed, including Rabbi Meir Bar-Ilan, Max Reisin, J. D. Eisenstein, Rev. Tzvi Hirsch Masliansky and J. L. Magnes along with many other American Rabbis of the time. Pretty diverse selection, including all streams of Judaism. In addition, Ephraim Deinard, who in general hated nearly everyone who ever wrote anything, has nothing but praise to say about him in Kohelet America and wishes that the author produce more such works.
Kohelet America's entry on Rigshe Yehuda

Prenumeranten Lists for Rigshe Yehuda
By looking at the few details we know of his life, we can have a glimpse into what type of Rabbi was a likable and popular Rabbi in this era in American History.

 Rabbi Yehuda Zundel Coblenz was born on 15 April 1858 in Riga. His father was Rabbi Meshulam Feivish and his mother was Fruma Hinda, need Cohen (verso of title in Rigshe Yehuda).  By 9 January 1887 he was married and living in Ponevez (today Panevezys), Lithuania, where his oldest son (and future rabbi), Adolph, was born. In about 1888, at the same time that his parents and siblings emigrated to America, Sigmund moved his family to Frankfurt am Main in Germany. His wife died in Frankfurt between 1898 and 1903, and in 1903 he emigrated with five of his children to America, where their entry was sponsored by his father, Rabbi Meshulam Fivel (Philip) Koblentz. By 1910 he and four of his children were living at 194 South 2nd Street in Brooklyn. By 1923 he was living at 1076 Kelly Street in the Bronx. When Risghe Yehuda was published in 1915, he was Rabbi of Hevra Kadisha in Brooklyn, NY. He pass away on 3 Shevat, 1923.

His Sermons are filled with a wide knowledge of Talmud, Medrashim and Tanach and show as well his great worldly knowledge. Socrates, Ptolemy, Freud, Schopenhauer, a Harvard Professor etc all appear in his lectures. When demonstrating great Rabbis of the day, he uses Krochmal, Shadal and Rival as examples (page 25). He addressed the Mizrachi Confrence in Altona, Germany in 1902. One Sermon in his book is in response to Police Commissioner Bingham's remark in 1909 that 50% of New York's criminals are Jews. Another lecture was given in 1914 on the visit to NY of Rabbi Meir Hildesheimer and Rabbi Ahron Walkin.

His Drushim show a brilliant ability to adapt teachings of H"azal to modern day and age problems, including a brilliant analysis of the revulsion of Western Europeans to the masses of Jews converting to Christianity. An Avid Zionist, he also was active in the fight against Reform Jewry and his sermons are sprinkled with urges to prevent assimilation.

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