Monsey Memories: Rabbi Joseph Marcus of Haverstraw

Monsey Memories: Rabbi Joseph Marcus of Haverstraw

The Sons of Jacob Congregation in Haverstraw is said to be Rockland’s oldest shul. It had as its Rov Rabbi Elimelech Adlin, who perished in the infamous Haverstraw landslide of 1906, as reported by Rockland Daily here.

A subsequent Rov—in the year 1940—was Rabbi Joseph Marcus, who served this community for a number of years. Not much is known about Rabbi Marcus’ early life, but a later newspaper article tells us that he learned in Mesivta Torah Vodaath. Rabbi Marcus came to Sons of Jacob following a rabbinic career in a number of American cities. 

In 1924, he was hired as the first Rabbi of the Beth Israel congregation in Vineland, New Jersey, and spent many years there. He even returned to the community as a guest even after taking the position in Haverstraw. He also had a short stint as a rabbi in Pennsylvania. By 1939, he was already in Haverstraw, and his 1942 WWII draft card tell us that he was the rabbi of the synagogue on Clove Avenue. 

Aside from his work as the rabbi of Sons of Israel, Rabbi Marcus served as the chaplain of the Jewish children at the Letchworth Village for the developmentally disabled, as we read in the Village Views in 1939: Rabbi Joseph Marcus, of New York City, who has been appointed to the staff ast the Songs of Jacob synagogue, Haverstraw, has rented an apartment in the Hyman Doris building on First Street where he and his family will reside. Rabbi Marcus is taking an active interest in the children of the Hebrew faith in Letchworth. 

Following his time in Haverstraw, Rabbi Marcus made his way to Boston, where he was the librarian of the Hebrew Teachers College. In 1950, we find an item in a local paper which reads, “Librarian to Give Talk at Center. Modern Israeli literature will be the subject of a talk to be given tonight at the Jewish Community Center by Rabbi Joseph Marcus, chief librarian at the Hebrew Teachers College in Boston, as the third program in a series of four sponsored by the center’s Jewish Cultural Committee…   

For Rosh Hashanah of 1951, we find that Rabbi Marcus officiated the services for Jewish servicemen under the auspices of the Agudas Harabanim. 

At one point, Rabbi and Mrs. Marcus made Aliyah to Eretz Yisroel, living out their years in Yerushalayim where Rabbi Marcus was niftar in the year 1974 following an illustrious Rabbinic career.

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