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   WHEELING:    Leaving for Cleveland
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May 14, 1917 Letter of Resignation

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

Wheeling, W. Va. May 14, 1917

To the Board of Trustees of
    Congregation Leshem Shomayim

My dear friends:

             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 hope 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 success.


                           A. H. Silver (s)

To see a copy of the actual letter, click here.

June 10, 1917  Wheeling I.O.B.B. Lodge says farewell

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:

Rabbi 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 work."

For the full text, visit the Ohio County Library history pages.


Wheeling Register, June 11, 1917.

June 20, 1917
Leshem 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. Raphael (describes 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 Program

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.

See endnote: the celebration.

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:

"As an 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 ...

The 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 Cleveland.

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.)

End of Wheeling pages

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