This Day in History – 25 Iyar/June 2

In 5115/1335, 1,200 Jews of Toledo, Spain, were massacred during a Christian and Moslem mob attack on the Jewish section.


Yahrtzeiten

5614/1854, Harav Chaim of Kossov, zt”l, mechaber of Toras Chaim

5702/1942, Harav Yosef Patzinovsky, zt”l, mechaber of Pardes Yosef, Pri Yosef and Gan Yosef

5717/1957, Harav Chaim Chori, zt”l, Rav of Ghaba, Tunis, and mechaber of Matza Chaim


5647/1887, Harav Avraham Yosef Ash, zt”l, Rav and founder of Beis Medrash Hagadol on the Lower East Side

Harav Avraham Yosef Ash (Eisenshtater) was born in 5573/1813 in Semiatich, Poland, a suburb of Brisk, to a chassidic family. His father’s name was Reb Meir. It is unclear whether his father was the renowned posek and talmid of the Chasam Sofer, Harav Meir Ash.

In 5612/1852, he moved to the United States and settled on the Lower East Side. He was involved in two brief business ventures, first as a manufacturer of clothing and later as a wine merchant.

In 5619/1859 he helped establish Beth Hamedrash Hagadol on Grand Street (subsequently Norfolk Street) for Lithuanian immigrants of non-chassidic traditions, and was appointed its first Rav. Beth Hamedrash Hagadol would eventually become the main shul on the Lower East Side. For the first six years of his career, Rav Ash was not paid a salary.

In 5637/1877 he resigned as Rav due to his stormy relationship with the congregation. Opposition to him was compounded by his chassidic background. The resignation of Rav Ash left a Rabbinic void on the Lower East Side, causing a number of congregations to come together and form a new organization called United Hebrew Orthodox Congregations (UHOC). The UHOC realized the need for a Rabbinic authority in New York and decided to offer a European-style Rav the position of Chief Rabbi of New York. The position was offered to Harav Meir Leibush Weiser, the Malbim — who refused to accept it. Shortly thereafter the UHOC was dissolved. Eventually Rav Ash was reinstated as Rabbi and fulfilled the role of Rabbinic authority until his passing on 25 Iyar 5647/1887.

While Rav Ash wrote no sefarim, his responsa can be found among the writings of Harav Yechezkel Shraga Halberstam of Shinev, Harav Yaakov Ettlinger (Binyan Tzion), and Harav Chaim Zvi Mannheimer (disciple of the Chasam Sofer), among other works of the time. He was considered an authority in gittin and kashrus. No Orthodox congregation in the United States would accept a shochet without his certification.

Rav Ash was buried in the Machpeilah Cemetery in Ridgewood, Queens. A new tombstone was erected at his gravesite in 1995.

After the petirah of Rav Ash, Harav Yaakov Yosef, zt”l, was brought in from Europe to serve as Chief Rabbi of New York.

Zechuso yagen aleinu.

This biography was extracted from the directory of Gedolei Yisrael who are buried in the U.S. For more information, or if you can provide information, please contact B. Amsel at lizensk12@yahoo.com.


June 2

In 1924, Congress passed, and President Calvin Coolidge signed, a measure guaranteeing full American citizenship for all Native Americans born within U.S. territorial limits.

In 1946, Italy held a referendum which resulted in the Italian monarchy being abolished in favor of a republic.

In 1966, U.S. space probe Surveyor 1 landed on the moon and began transmitting detailed photographs of the lunar surface.