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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 left 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 below.


For my recollection of the service, click here.

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 Cemetery

Leonard S. Labowitch, the funeral director, in a article he wrote for the magazine of the Jewish Funeral Directors Association, provides a close (and new to the web) view of the arrangements for the funeral. Only the first page is available. To view it, click here.


Rabbi Leon Feuer

Rabbi of the Collingwood Avenue Temple (Shomer Emunim) in Toledo, Ohio, Feuer, born in 1903, grew up in Cleveland and was inspired by Silver to become a rabbi. In 1927, just ordained, he became The Temple's first Assistant Rabbi, leaving after seven years for his own pulpit in Toledo. In the 1940's, when Silver was most active in Zionist leadership, Feuer was his able lieutenant and went on to become Vice President of the Zionist Organization of America. His 20 page "Abba Hillel Silver: A Personal Memoir" was published in the November 1967 issue of the Journal of the American Jewish Archives. read this pdf document

Rabbi Arthur J. Lelyveld

Rabbi of Reform congregation Anshe Chesed - Fairmount Temple. Cleveland's oldest synagogue. An active Zionist and an advocate for social justice, the following year he worked in Mississippi and was beaten in Hattiesburg.  He served Fairmount Temple from 1958 until his retirement in 1986.  more ....

Senator Frank Lausche

Senator from Ohio. Cleveland-born son of Slovenian Catholic parents, a lawyer and a Democrat, his extraordinary political career included service as a judge in Municipal Court, then Common Pleas Court, Mayor of Cleveland, two terms as Governor of Ohio and two terms in the US Senate.  more ....

Dr. Emanuel Neumann

President of the World Union of General Zionists, he came to the funeral from Israel. A boyhood friend, he became a lawyer and spent his life in Zionist affairs, working closely with Silver. Co-founder of Keren Hayesod, the main institution for financing the Zionist Organization's activities in Israel. more ....

Rabbi Solomon B. Freehof

Rabbi of Pittsburgh's Rodef Shalom congregation. He and Silver were the same age, had arrived in the US the same year (1903), and were ordained at HUC the same year (1915). Silver's oldest, closest friend in the rabbinate, he and Silver would participate in each other's celebrations of milestone events. Most recently Freehof had written an eloquent essay in A Time of Harvest more ....   

Rabbi Milton Matz

The Temple's Associate Rabbi. He earned a PhD in Psychology and left the rabbinate for a career in psychology. He started the nation's first interfaith clinical education program for clergy at Case Western Reserve University, and with his wife Ann did much work in bereavement counseling.  more ....

Richard Tucker

Leading tenor of the Metropolitan Opera. American-born (as Rubin Ticker) son of Bessarabian immigrants. Before making a career in opera he had been chazan (cantor) at the Brooklyn Jewish Center.  more ....   More on El Moley Rachamin

A few weeks after the funeral The Temple sent a funeral program to its membership. We show its four pages below.
Thanks to The Temple - Tifereth Israel and Susan Koletsky for these materials.

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