David Tevele Schiff, Chief Rabbi of the United Kingdom

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David Tevele Schiff, Chief Rabbi of the United Kingdom

Death: December 19, 1791 (69)
London, England
Place of Burial: Alderney Road (Globe Rd) Jewish Cemetery, London, England
Immediate Family:

Son of Zalman David Schiff, zum grünen Schild and Röschen Schiff
Husband of Breinle Schiff
Father of Sara Cohen and Moshe Schiff
Brother of Rabbi Meir Schiff KaZ; Jentle Adler; Mosche Schiff and Ester Adler

Occupation: Chief Rabbi of London
Managed by: Randy Schoenberg
Last Updated:

About David Tevele Schiff, Chief Rabbi of the United Kingdom


Chief Rabbi David Tevele Schiff (Hebrew: דוד טעבלי שיף‎; died December 17, 1791) was the chief rabbi of the United Kingdom and the rabbi of the Great Synagogue of London from 1765 until his death.

He was son of Solomon Schiff, member of a famous and learned family from Frankfurt am Main. His mother was Roesche, daughter of the quarrelsome Reb Aberle London. Tevele Schiff was educated in the schools of Rabbis Jacob Poper and Jacob Joshua Falk. He served as maggid in Vienna. He also was head of the Beth Midrash in Worms, and later dayan in Frankfurt.

After Hart Lyon left London in 1764 it was agreed that his successor should be appointed and maintained by the Great Synagogue and the Hambro' Synagogue jointly. However, they could not agree on a single name. The Great Synagogue appointed Rabbi Schiff on February 24, 1765, while the Hambro' Synagogue appointed Rabbi Israel Meshullam Zalman (who became known in England as Meshullam Solomon).

Each Rabbi claimed authority over the whole Kingdom. The problem was resolved only after a split within the community at Portsmouth. Although a dissident group of the Portsmouth Jewish population established a rival congregation recognising the authority of Meshullam Solomon, the main community formally accepted the authority of Rabbi Schiff. When in 1766 the Rabbi of the Great Synagogue began to be known by the title "The Chief Rabbi", and Meshullam Solomon returned to Hamburg in 1780, all communities accepted Tevele Schiff's authority.

Schiff carried on a detailed correspondence with his brother the Rabbi of Copenhagen, which casts an interesting light on Jewish social life in Georgian London. The economic depression following the end of the American War of Independence led to frequent calls for the reduction of his salary. In addition to this, after Rabbi Meshullam Solomon left London, Rabbi Schiff was expected to do the work of the Hambro' Synagogue as well. Overworked and underpaid, he tried unsuccessfully to obtain appointments at Rotterdam and Würzburg in 1781 and 1782 respectively.

He died on December 17, 1791, after having occupied the Rabbinate for twenty-seven years. His wife, Breinle Sinzheim, had died many years before, shortly after his appointment to London, leaving him an only son, Moses. He was in the old burial-ground in Mile End, in immediate proximity to Rabbi Aaron Hart and the founders of the congregation. His son, Moses Schiff, perpetuated his memory by arranging for the publication of his responsa, sermons, and expositions, under the title Lashon Zahav, which means the "Golden tongue".


Alderman, Geoffrey (1998). Modern British Jewry. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-1982-0759-X.

Taylor, Derek (2007). British chief rabbis, 1664-2006. Vallentine Mitchell. ISBN 0-8530-3610-1.

Shmuel, Feiner; Chaya Naor (2003). The Jewish Enlightenment. University of Pennsylvania Press. ISBN 0-8122-3755-2.

Endelman, Todd M. (2002). The Jews of Britain, 1656 to 2000. University of California Press. ISBN 0-5202-2720-4.

Katz, David S. (1997). The Jews in the History of England, 1485-1850. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-1982-0667-4.

Past Chief Rabbis

The History of the Great Synagogue

Chief Rabbi David Tevele Schiff (Hebrew: דוד טעבלי שיף‎) (died December 17, 1791; or, in the Hebrew calendar, 26 Kislev 5551) was the chief rabbi of Great Britain and the rabbi of the Great Synagogue of London from 1765 until his death.

Rabbi Schiff was a disciple of Rabbi Joshua Falk, author of the Classic Commentary on the Talmud "Pene Yehoshua". He was a contemporary of Rabbi Yechezkel Sega"l Landau, Prague's Chief Rabbi and author of the fundamental Responsae "Noda B'Yhuda". His most famous disciple was the holy Rabbi Nosson Adler of Frankfurt-am-Main, famous for his Kabbalistic teachings.

Rabbi Schiff's resting place is at Britain's first Ashkenazic cemetery since the expulsion of Jewry in medieval times. It is situated at 27 Alderney Road, London E1 4EG, in London's East End.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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David Tevele Schiff, Chief Rabbi of the United Kingdom's Timeline

December 19, 1791
Age 69
London, England
December 20, 1791
Age 69
Alderney Road (Globe Rd) Jewish Cemetery, London, England
Hanover, Lower Saxony, Germany