April 5, 2021
The Rav Hakolel or Chief Rabbi of New York City, was the title held by Rabbi Jacob Joseph (1841-1902). A student of the Volozhin Yeshiva and later of Rav Yisrael Salanter, he enjoyed a successful rabbinic career in Lithuania which culminated with his appointment to be the Maggid of Vilna. In 1888 he was invited to become the chief rabbi of a federation of synagogues in Manhattan's Lower East Side. Although it wasn't a very successful venture, behind it lies the story of a great rabbinical leader.
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