Search JTA's historical archive dating back to 1923

Death of Chief Rabbi Ezekiel Lipshitz President of Union of Polish Rabbis

March 23, 1932
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Chief Rabbi Ezekiel Lipshitz, the Chief Rabbi of Malisch, and for many years President of the Union of Rabbis in Poland, died to-day at his home in Kalisch.

Rabbi Lipshitz, who was 70 years of age, was a renowned scholar, and was held in great respect by Jews and non-Jews alike throughout Poland.

In the interests of Polish Jewry, Rabbi Lipshitz several times visited the United States of America and other countries, and although he was a member of the Agudath Israel, which has not entered the Jewish Agency for Palestine, he himself became a member of the Council of the Jewish Agency when it was formed in 1929, in the same way as did another prominent Agudist, Rabbi Leo Jung, the leader of the Agudath Israel in the United States of America.

At the last Conference of the Union of Rabbis in Poland held in January of this year, Rabbi Lipshitz as President was in the chair, and he delivered the report to the Conference on the situation of the Jews of Poland. He was reelected by the Conference as President of the Union, jointly with Deputy Rabbi Levin, one of the Agudist members of the Polish Parliment.


When Chief Rabbi Lipshitz was in the United States of America in 1926, he was received by President Coolidge at White House, being introduced by the Polish Ambassador at Washington, M. Ciechanowski, who acted as his interpreter. In his address to the President, Rabbi Lipshitz said: I have arrived in the United States as a representatives of the Federation of Orthodox Rabbis of Poland. I feel happy to be able to express in the name of the Rabbinate of Poland and of the entire Jewish Community of Poland to you, as the head of the greatest Republic in the world, their deep feelings of sincere appreciation and gratitude to the American people, and particularly to the Jews of America, who are represented by the Joint Distribution Committee, which has done so much for our brethren in Poland in the time of their great need after the world-war, and which still continues its great work at this time when we are again experiencing a severe financial crisis.

Chief Rabbi Lipshitz also attended during his stay in America the Conference of the American Union of Orthodox Rabbis, and addressed the Conference on the difficult position of Polish Jewry.

In the course of his address to the President of the United States in 1926, Chief Rabbi Lipshitz appealed to him on behalf of the hundreds of wives and children of residents in the United States, who are in Poland, unable, because of the American immigration restriction laws, to join their husbands and fathers, and asked that they should be allowed to come in as non-quota immigrants.

On his return to Poland, Chief Rabbi Lipshitz reported to a special session of the Union of Polish Rabbis on his visit to the United States. He was certain, he said, that the Jews of America would take into full consideration the needs of the Jews of Poland in connection with the raising of the new relief funds in America. He had also been given a personal interview with President Coolidge, and had submitted to him the petition of the Polish Union of Rabbis for permission for the 800 Jewish women in Poland whose husbands are in America, and are declarants for United States citizenship, to enter the country to join their husbands outside the ordinary immigration quota, so that the present disastrous separation of families should cease. He was confident, he said, that the United States Government would do something to remedy this state of affairs.

(It has not yet been done. As recently as a week ago representatives of the Hias, the American Jewish Committee, the American Jewish Congress, the B’nai B’rith, the National Council of Jewish Women and the Order B’rith Abraham appeared before the Congress Immigration Committee to plead for the facilities to admit the wives and children of American residents outside the quota to reunite families at present separated by the law. The Congress Immigration Committee decided only last Thursday to support in Congress a measure which would include wives and children of aliens resident in the United States as non-quota immigrants, in order to unite families).


When the Council of the Jewish Agency held its constituent meeting in August 1929, Chief Rabbi Lipshitz was the first speaker, being called upon immediately after Dr. Weizmann’s inaugural address and the formal greetings of the representatives of the League of Nations, the Swiss Government and the Jews of Switzerland. The work of upbuilding in the Holy Land, he said on that occasion, ceases now to be the affair of a party, and is to become the cause of the entire Jewish people. If I speak here of a representation of the whole people of Israel, it is because I am firmly confident that through the Agency the path will be smoothed and the door opened wide for the adhesion also of those groups who are still absent from our midst. We must admit that the groups of whom we are speaking are actually much older in their love and longing for Eretz Israel than many others; that from religious motives they have till now believed that they must suppress their longing for Erets Israel, because to them religion is not a private matter, but the real vital nerve of the Jewish national life, and because they see in the cultural work which is being fostered by certain Zionist circles a menace to the continuance of traditional Judaism in the Holy Land. In how far the conception of these circles is right, this is not the time nor the place to discuss. I myself belong to no party, but all the more do I feel justified in making these few general remarks. It is hard to build up a country, but still harder to ensure its continued existence. When speaking with enthusiasm of the land of Israel one must above all think of the people of Israel. For the land can only be holy for the people, and when one speaks of ensuring the existence of the country, only the existence of the people can be meant. The fact that the Jewish people, despite its two thousand years of martyrdom still exists, while far greater and more powerful peoples have long since disappeared, that fact is incomprehensible on any human calculation. Nevertheless, we who believe do not wonder at it. We believe that Israel

exists by virtue of the Divine decree which promises it eternal life. In view of these reflections, he concluded, one cannot lightly disregard the misgivings entertained by the orthodox circles I have mentioned. The Jewish Agency, however, can and should find means to dispel these misgivings and to supply the bridge by which these brethren of ours can cross over to us. One God, one people and one spirit shall be our watchword. Only by complete unity can the sun rise fully on our vision and the word of the Prophets be accomplished.


Speaking at the Conference of the Union of Polish Rabbis in January of this year, Chief Rabbi Lipshitz dwelt on the tragic position of the Jews in Poland. Economically, the situation is unbearable, he said. The Compulsory Sunday Closing Law is largely responsible for that, because it has hit the great majority of Jews who are Sabbath-observant. I appeal to the Government, he said, to modify the law, because we are convinced that if it does it will benefit not only the Jewish people, but also the Polish State in which we live.

The Rabbis of Poland, Chief Rabbi Lipshitz concluded, are united in this Union not in a professional organisation to defend their professional and personal interests, but our programme is the sacred Torah and the building up of Jewish life on the firm foundations of the Jewish faith.

Recommended from JTA