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  • Isaac Natan Lipschitz, A.B.D. Abaújszántó, Hungary (c.1791 - 1874)
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  • Ammiel Hirsch
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  • HaGaon Rabbi Judah Bachrach, 1st A.B.D. Sejny (1775 - 1846)
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  • R' Shalom Yechezkel Shraga Rubin-Halberstam, Admor Chechinov-New York (1913 - 1986)
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Geni Rabbis List

Rabbis are Judaism's scholars, teachers, and religious leaders.

Please add Geni profiles of those employed as rabbis to this occupation project. In addition, you may wish to add them to one of the related history oriented projects -- or start your own sub project. Please also list and add a bolded hyperlink to Geni profiles of rabbis considered especially "notable" in that section.

From the Jewish Virtual Library:

The word rabbi originates from the Hebrew meaning "teacher."

The term has evolved over Jewish history to include many roles and meanings. Today it usually refers to those who have received rabbinical ordination and are educated in matters of halacha (Jewish law). They are the ones knowledgeable enough to answer halachic questions. Many countries have a chief rabbi that they rely on to settle halachic disputes within their Jewish communities.

The state gives rabbis the permission to perform weddings. Technically, you don't need one; however, it's important to have a rabbi to make sure that the complicated marriage ceremony is done properly. Valid witnesses are needed to make the marriage official. The criteria constituting a valid witness differ among the movements. In Israel, a rabbi is needed for the secular legality of the wedding. The purpose of a rabbi is like that of using a judge or a lawyer in civil matters to ensure that the law is complied with. This differs from the non­-Jewish concept of a minister having some necessary mystical connection with God that is required to make the ceremony valid.

The term rabbi was first used in reference to the rabbis of the Sanhedrin during the first century C.E. Throughout the medieval period the term referred to the common man, while the term "harav" implied scholarship.

Similar to modern times, many of those with rabbinical ordination in the talmudic period pursued other forms of livelihood unrelated to that of a rabbi. Today, although not common, some rabbis are simultaneously doctors, lawyers, psychologists, etc. By the 12th century, however, the job of rabbi had become, for most, a full-time occupation.

Also similar to modern times, the rabbis of talmudic times had many obligations. They were supposed to determine the Jewish calendar, serve as a judge in the rabbinical court, help ensure a form of social welfare in the community, and try to increase religious observance.

The rabbis of talmudic times were the sole authority on the Oral Torah. (This was before Oral Torah was written, and no one had the opportunity to study the law for themselves). The rabbi was also revered as being a figure closer to God than anyone else in the community. He was thought to have the ability to curse and bless individuals. A rabbi has no actual power under Jewish law. While Catholic priests are often used as intermediaries between man and God, rabbis are nothing more than regular people who may be officially recognized through a process of ordination, or informally by virtue of the respect they have earned for their knowledge and righteousness.

Among the Sephardim (in particular the Spanish and Portuguese Jews) "hakham" is the official title of the local rabbi, but it is not known how old the title is. Solomon ben Aderet addresses some of his responsa to people with "le-hakham Rabbi . . ." (Responsa, Nos. 79, 395), others again with "la-rab Rabbi . . .", but it is possible that "le-hakham" simply means "to the wise."

In Muslim countries, a rabbi was often called a ḥākhām because al-rab in Arabic was one of the names of God and may have caused offense due to misunderstanding. Thus the chief rabbi of the Ottoman Empire was called the Hakham Bashi (Hahambaşı حاخامباشی).

Today the role of a rabbi mirrors, in many ways, that of a Protestant minister. He/she serves the community as an educator, social worker, preacher, and conducts prayer services. The rabbi is not required to lead prayer services - as any knowledgeable congregant can carry out the service. Catholic priests can give absolution for sins, rabbis can't (unless you're asking forgiveness for something you've done against the rabbi personally).

The Conservative, Reconstructionist and Reform movements now grant women s'micha, with the Reform movement leading the way since 1972. (The word s'micha - refers to the "laying on of hands" - the process whereby, one rabbi or rabbinic court, stood by and for the process and education of a student in their training and learning of tradition, culminating in a student being called Rabbi). The Orthodox (more traditional world) do not ordain women as rabbis, as they follow the stricter interpretation in the Talmud prohibiting women from serving as witnesses, judges or leading prayer.

affiliated projects

Notable Rabbis - Spiritual and Community Leaders (selected profiles list)


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