President John Fitzgerald Kennedy was assassinated on
Friday November 22, 1963 and buried in Arlington National
Cemetery on Monday November 25. The Temple planned a memorial
service for him in the Temple Sanctuary. It would be held on the
morning of Sunday, December 1.
On Thursday November 28 - Thanksgiving Day - Abba Hillel Silver
was at his home in Shaker Heights. He may have been working on his eulogy for the president. Early
that afternoon, while
sitting down to dinner with his family, he became ill. His sons
Daniel and Raphael rushed him to the hospital where Abba Hillel
Silver died before 4 pm.
The photo at the
showing Silver and Kennedy at a meeting, was taken in 1963.
Thus, when the members of the congregation met at The Temple
on Sunday morning, December 1, 1963, it was not to honor their fallen president,
but to say farewell to the man who had been their rabbi for 46
years. They were joined by a former governor, a senator, a
representative of the State of Israel, the leading tenor of the
Metropolitan Opera and so many others who filled the sanctuary,
the auditorium and even stood on the street outside.
The photo at the right (source:
Cleveland Temple Memorial) shows pallbearers carrying the bronze sealed casket out of the
Ansel Road door of The Temple. His body would be interred at
Mayfield Cemetery in Cleveland Heights.
It has been reported that the eulogy Abba Hillel Silver wrote for President
John Kennedy was read at the funeral service. Not so, based both
on my memory and the printed program, a copy of which is shown
For my recollection of the service,
The burial at Mayfield Cemetery
was private. Rabbi Leon Feuer, who had been Silver's first
assistant rabbi, led the graveside service. View the
Abba Hillel Silver gravesite at Mayfield
Leonard S. Labowitch, the funeral director, in a
article he wrote for an industry magazine, provides a close (and
new to the web) view of the arrangements for the funeral. For
the first page,
(Sorry, the conclusion of the article is not available, nor
is the name of the publication known.)