return to Home page Rabbi Israel Porath's Lamentation  
“The Second Destruction of Cleveland Orthodox Synagogues”

On March 28, 1945 Yiddishe Velt (Jewish World) published "The Second Destruction of Cleveland Orthodox Synagogues” by Rabbi Israel Porath, who in later years was regarded as the Dean of Cleveland's Orthodox rabbis.

in 2019 the Journal of the American Jewish Archives published Professor Ira Robinson's translation of Rabbi Porath's essay, followed by an extensive, well documented analysis of the times. (Ira Robinson PhD, is professor of Jewish Studies at Concordia University in Montreal.) 

We present the link to this essay for those interested in Rabbi Porath and his times, to offer links to our pages on Rabbi Porath that may be relevant, and to describe aspects of his personal situation when he wrote his picture of the state of Cleveland's Orthodox Jewish community.

Arnold Berger  June 12, 2020 

Professor Ira Robinson's essay on the American Jewish Archives website

A copy on this website

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About Rabbi Porath when he wrote this essay

Rabbi Israel Porath (1886 - 1974), who was born and educated in Jerusalem, led three Orthodox congregations in Cleveland:

  • 1925 -1939  Oheb Zedek
  • 1939 -1945  N'vai Zedek
  • 1946 -1974  Heights Jewish Center

Note the 1945 - 1946 one year gap in service. Israel Porath wrote his essay early in 1945 when he was 59 years old and there was no pulpit for him in Cleveland.

Oheb Zedek, the Orthodox congregation which had brought him to Cleveland in 1925, in 1939 replaced him with a younger American-born, American-trained rabbi.

N'vai Zedek, his next pulpit, was in the Kinsman area, which in the 1940s experienced rapid racial change. The "white flight" that accompanied such changes left a much weaker membership. The congregation, which had so proudly paid off its mortgage five years earlier, could no longer afford the services of a full-time rabbi.

Rabbi Porath accepted the leadership of a Yeshiva in Brooklyn. NY. The Porath grandchildren say that his wife and youngest children remained here. He was facing the sad prospect of life in a strange city, far from his wife and family.

Happily for Rabbi Porath, his family, and Jewish Cleveland, within a year he returned to accept a position as rabbi of Heights Jewish Center. It included a house on Superior Road in Cleveland Heights, across the street from the "shul", where he would live until his death in 1974.

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