May 14, 1917
— Letter of
This letter from Abba Hillel Silver, written to the trustees of Leshem
Shomayim on May 14, 1917 was a
formality as he had accepted the position at the Temple in Cleveland in April, with
the knowledge of the board of trustees.
Congregation Leshem Shomayim
ABBA HILLEL SILVER, RABBI
Wheeling, W. Va. May 14, 1917
To the Board of Trustees of
Congregation Leshem Shomayim
It is with a deep sense of regret that I now
place in your hands my resignation as Rabbi of Congregation
Leshem Shomayim to take effect July 1, 1917. A greater opportunity for service in my chosen vocation has been offered
to me and prompted by the ambition of youth and the hope of
greater usefulness in a larger field of endeavor I have
resolved to accept it.
Permit me to assure you, my dear friends, that
your splendid cooperation and your willingness and readiness
to assist me in all my labors among you was a real inspiration
to me. I cannot adequately express to you, and through you,
to the members of Leshem Shomayim, my deep appreciation for
the whole-hearted devotion, regard and consideration which you
and they have at all times manifested for me. My sincere
is that I have merited the confidence which you have placed in
me and that my efforts of two years in behalf of Judaism and
Jewry in Wheeling have been blessed with some measure of
A. H. Silver (s)
To see a copy of the actual
letter, click here.
June 10, 1917
— Wheeling I.O.B.B.
Silver had been active in the
I.O.B.B. (International Order of B'nai B'rith) lodge in Wheeling.
He had visited other lodges in the area and in Cleveland. On June 10, 1917 the Lodge and
the rabbi said their farewells. As reported:
Silver in his farewell address to the lodge spoke
feelingly. He told of his happy association here and
the many dear friends he regretted to leave, but
said that the Cleveland call gave him a large field.
Rabbi Silver is one of the youngest rabbis in this
country. He was graduated at the Jewish college in
Cincinnati two years ago and came here a few months
later. He is one of the most learned, eloquent and
impressive speakers of the city, and has taken an
unusually active part in all uplift and charitable
For the full text, visit the
Ohio County Library
Wheeling Register, June 11, 1917.
Shomayim says "Good Bye, Good Luck, God Bless You!"
Despite his strenuous
civic activity and many speaking engagements, Abba Hillel
Silver developed close relationships with his congregants.
how important they were to him and that his
visits to Wheeling over the years were always joyous occasions.
On June 20, 1917 Leshem Shomayim
gave Abba Hillel Silver a "send off" to remember. It
entailed much expense: a hotel ballroom, orchestra, catered
dinner, and more. It was truly a demonstration of their devotion and affection. Almost
every member attended. Many participated in the night's
entertainment. One might expect such a farewell for a rabbi
retiring after many years of service, not for a 24 year old
who had been part of their lives for only two years.
The archives of Leshem
Shomayim include a printed program for their 1917 gala
farewell dinner. It
is folded as if it had been put in a jacket pocket, signed
and is slightly stained, showing it had been used at the
celebration. Most of its pages are displayed below.
The program's theme is
that their temple had "finished" the education of
a newly-ordained rabbi so he could leap
from Wheeling to Cleveland. To read it and the
newspaper account of the evening
will give a sense of the congregation's mixed feelings of
pride and loss.
The last page of the program listed the committees that had helped organize the evening. The Entertainment Committee included Miss Virginia Horkheimer,
the 22 year old daughter of
a former president of the congregation. More than five years later,
on January 2, 1923, Abba
Hillel Silver, then 30 years old, returned to Wheeling to marry
Virginia. (Virginia Silver died in 1984.)
June 21, 1917 — Newspaper account of
Leshem Shomayim's tribute
The next day's Wheeling Intelligencer
devoted a full column to this event, with a two
column headline. The story begins:
expression of love and respect that his people of
Eoff Street Temple have for him, a delightful
farewell entertainment was given in honor of Rabbi
A. H. Silver last night ...
full text of this
glowing account of the farewell celebration can be found on the History
web pages of the
Ohio County Public Library in Wheeling.
Wheeling Intelligencer, June 21, 1917.
Abba Hillel Silver then left
Wheeling and traveled
back to New York City to be with his family and friends for a month, and then to move to
He would be replaced at
Leshem Shomayim by Louis D. Gross, a 1909 graduate of H.U.C who had
been asked to come to Wheeling in
1915 and had declined. (Gross would be gone a year later,
replaced by another new H.U.C. graduate.)