Rabbi Jacob Maze, Leader of Russian Jewry, Dead

Rabbi Jacob Maze, Rabbi of the Jewish community of Moscow and one of the outstanding leaders of Russian Jewry in the last quarter of a century, died yesterday at midnight at the age of 65.

Rabbi Maze was born in 1860 in the state of Mogileff. He was graduated from the University of Moscow in 1886, having taken a degree in jurisprudence.

He began his public activities as a contributor to the Hebrew daily paper, “Ha’meilitz”. He was the founder of the first Zionist group in Russia in 1881 and helped to form the Chovevei Sephath Eiver. In 1893 he became Rabbi of the Jewish communoty of Moscow, which position he held until his death.

Besides his Rabbinical and communal activities, he was prominent in Russian civic life after the Revolution. In 1917 he was elected as a delegate to the Russian Constituent Assembly under the Kerensky Government.

Rabbi Maze, although known for his ardent Zionism and devotion to Jewish ideals, was respected by all parties and even by the Communists. A short time ago Rabbi Maze contracted a severe illness which caused the loss of his eyesight. Realizing that he would die soon he began work on his memoirs, which contain valuable documents throwing light on the history and sufferings of Russian Jewry during the last fifty years.

Rabbi Maze was a scholar of note, a brilliant writer and a powerful orator. He rendered great service to the cause of the Jewish honor during the Beilis trial in Kieff in 1912, where he was called as an expert.

Dr. Arnold Margolin, chief attorney for the defense in the Beilis trial, and later Supreme Court Justice of Ukrainia, who is now in New York, learning of the death of Rabbi Maze stated:

“I recall as if it were today, the moment when Rabbi Maze appeared before the Kieff court in the Beilis trial. Compartively slight in stature, he offered a sharp contrast to the thick-set, unprepossessing Shmakov, and to the powerful figure of Zamislovsky, with his malicious and spiteful smile, who were seated on the benches reserved for the accusers of Beilis. Maze had scarcely begun to speak when the entire audience in the court-room, holding its breath, began to follow with rapt attention every word of this extraordinary lecture on the Jewish religion. Only his thoughtful, expressive eyes betrayed the profound indignation which was stirring within him as he denounced this contemptible charge brought against the Jewish religion. In everything else, in his manner of dress, in his general appearance, in his gestures, he preserved an almost classical calm, an academic dispassionateness, and very soon not a trace was left of the ritual charge so elaborately built by the prosecution.

“This was truly a fight of the Jewish David against Goliath, and David came out victorious.

“The Jewry of the world will never forget this brilliant and vigorous defense of its honor and dignity by Rabbi Maze at the Beilis trial. May his ashes rest in peace.”

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