Monsey Memories: Rabbi Abraham Israelitan

Monsey Memories: Rabbi Abraham Israelitan

Yitzy Fried

We have profiled the Congregation Sons of Israel in Nyack, Rockland County, in the past, and today, we write about an early leader of the congregation: Rabbi Abraham Israelitan, who served at its helm in the 1930s.

R’ Avraham was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in the year 1910. His parents were Isaac (a merchant in Philadelphia) and Lena (Margolis) Israelitan.

He studied at the Jewish Theological Seminary, and he obtained a degree from the University of Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Sometime after 1935, he became the rabbi of Songs of Israel of Nyack, and he was a very active figure in Rockland County.

By 1940, Rabbi Israelitan was back in Philadelphia, appointed as the rabbi of Temple Beth El in Sunbury, Pennsylvania. The Daily Item writes about his installation in November of 1940. “Rabbi Israelitan comes to Sunbury from Rockland County, New York, where he served as the spiritual leader of Congregation Sons of Israel of Nyack. He was the vice president of the Rockland County Peace Association and Jewish chaplain of the Rockland State Hospital for the mentally ill.

Upon his passing in the year 1987 in the Tacony section of Philadelphia, we read the following in the Philadelphia Inquirer: Rabbi Abraham H. Israelitan, 77, spiritual leader of Temple Menorah, 4301 Tyson Avenue, died yesterday at the Northern Division of Albert Einstein Medical Center. He lived in the Tacony section.

“A Philadelphia native, Rabbi Israelitan was a graduate of Tulsa University and the Jewish Theological Seminary. He came to Temple Menorah after World War II and served the congregation for 39 years. He was the author of a textbook for junior and senior high school students entitled Israel Speaks for Democracy. He also put together a published calendar with a quote from a prominent person each day of the year.

“Rabbi Israelitan was a member of the Board of Rabbis of Greater Philadelphia and the Rabbinical Assembly. He was a chaplain of the Graduate Hospital and a member of the Zionist Organization. Services will be held on Sunday at Temple Menorah.”

Rabbi Israelitan was buried in King David Memorial Park in Philadelphia following a lifetime in the clergy, leading congregations in the United States. 

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