Carnegie Rabbis

Rabbi Rudolphe Weiss

When this conversation started, I thought it would a simple one. But it has yielded some very interesting comments and I realized I should have posted it here on the blog so that everyone could see and comment.

This dialogue started with a request from Lynn Donovan asking who were the rabbis when she was a member here between 1958 to 1965. Since my source of historical data, Stan Roth, is no longer with us I sent out an email asking for information. Let me post the responses here and you all can continue the conversation directly.

From Brenda Miller I received the following:
“my husband Larry (Izzy Miller Furniture) and I were married in 1960. Rabbi Rudolph Weiss was the Rabbi who officiated and was the rabbi until 1965. He may have been here longer than that but I do know after he went elsewhere we interviewed a number of rabbi’s, but I don’t remember any being hired. I started teaching Sunday School around 1966 and the only person I recall taking charge was Stan Roth.Hope this helps. I was the one who went to the rabbi’s from Beth El and Temple Emanuel to see if we could start sending our children to one of their Religious school’s. We were taken in by Temple Emanuel, they gave membership to the families who had children in religious school. Some of the families joined on their own after their children were Confirmed. During the High Holidays we hired student rabbi’s to conduct services.”

From Roger Wilk,
“I believe the Rabbi at the time you refer to was Rabbi Rudolph Weiss. I will try and find a document that states that, but since I lived there at that time and Morris was President until 1963 I believe I am correct.”

From Morry Miller,
“Rabbi Rudolph Weiss was a holocost survivor and bore a numbered arm tatoo. Prior to Rabbi Weiss was Rabbi Helfgot. My brother Larry and I had our Bar Mitzvah in the Shule in December of 1949. The Party was held in the downstairs social hall.”

Lynn adds a follow-up question,
“Do you know why Rabbi Weiss left and where he went?

The photo of Rabbi Weiss is from the Shul’s 1953 Jubilee book. At some point I will scan in the entire book and post a link.

In the meantime, please feel free to add your answers/questions/comments below.

13 Comments

Filed under History

13 Responses to Carnegie Rabbis

  1. Lynn Donovan

    Does anyone know what years Rabbi Weiss was at the shilling and where he went when he left?

  2. Carla Brandon

    What was Rabbi Weiss’ wife’s name? Is he still alive?

  3. Gerrie Isaacs Ketler

    Ra bbi Weiss went to Pompano, Fl. after he left Carnegie. I believe his wife’s
    name was Irene. I don”t now if they are living at present. There was a Rabbi Racz who followed for a short time. He had somewhat of a racy past!

    Gerrie Isaacs Ketler

  4. harry zemon

    RUDOLPH WEISS WAS THE RABBI AT THAT TIME-LATE FIFTIES TO ’65-WIFE’S NAME WAS IRENE-2 CHILDREN HARRY AND JEFFREY-RUMOUR WAS HE LEFT BECAUSE HIS CREDENTIALS WERE BEING QUESTIONED

  5. Paul Lederstein

    Rabbi Weiss was the one that officiated my bar Mitzvah in 1958. He left our Shul for a higher salary. He later came back to Carnegie and tried to have members write letters to his Shul in Florida to let him go so that he could come back to Carnegie. He only wanted the letters for his own sake to ask his own Shul members for a higher salary. He used one for the other. I DO remember this happening. He came and met with my whole family and the Harris family too in McDonald. Harry Zemon was correct about the credentials being in question.

  6. rick

    Note: Roger Wilk adds the following comments:
    As Morry Miller noted Rabbi Weiss was a victim of the Nazi atrocities. His first wife and several children were killed by
    by the Nazi hordes. After surviving in a concentration camp Rabbi Weiss was released and spent some time in a DP camp.
    He then came to Carnegie to be our Rabbi. He spoke little english and we spoke no hebrew. I can tell you that hebrew school was quite an adventure.
    Within a short time he mastered english to the point where he was more
    qualified in the language than native born Americans. He married a wonderful women, Irene and had two boys.
    He left Carnegie because the congregation was too small to permit him to earn a living. The most important part of his being our Rabbi was he instilled a love of being Jewish and belonging to a synagogue. We should all be indebted for the effort he gave to our community.
    PS. He went to Florida and served as a Rabbi in several places and died. He was buried in Israel sometime in the late 90’s.

  7. Jeffrey Bernstein

    Rabbi Weiss departed before 1965. Rabbi Racz, who was also a holocaust survivor, officiated at my Bar Mitzvah in June of 1964.

  8. Lynn Kalla-Donovan

    To Jerry or anyone what can you tell me about Rabbi Racz’s Racy Past. You can phone me at 936 647 9166. Thank you Lynn Kalla-Donovan.

  9. Adlai Neubauer

    I just returned from visiting a friend who lives in Forest Hills on Newport Rd. just off of Ardmore. While visiting her, we discovered that there is an old Jewish cemetery up the street from her house. She didn’t even realize that it was there because she’d never had any reason to go the extra two blocks up the hill! I am wondering if this cemetery is associated with your synagogue? I was unable to find any reference to it on your website.
    If there is a connection between this cemetery and your synagogue, do you know of anywhere that more information can be found about this cemetery, or who has access to it, as the gates were locked.
    If this cemetery is in fact associated with your synagogue, I am curious why it is located relatively far away from Carnegie in Forest Hills?

  10. Rick D'Loss

    Adlai,
    There are at least two cemeteries in that location, Ahavath Achim and Agudath Achim. And there may be one more as well. These cemeteries are associated with congregations in the Mon Valley, specifically in Rankin, Braddock, and Homestead. I am not familiar enough with the history of the Mon Valley shuls to tell you further. That particular Ahavath Achim cemetery is not associated with our shul in Carnegie. That name was a common name for shuls, and in fact there were 3 shuls in the County named Ahavath Achim. The third one was in McKees Rocks and it closed in the 1970’s. The cemetery for the McKees Rocks shul is still in use (in Kennedy Twp.), i.e., there are still burials taking place there even though the shul itself is long closed. Our shul maintains an informal relationship with that cemetery since they are the Ahavath Achim Cemetery without a congregation and we are the Ahavath Achim Congregation without a cemetery.

    The cemeteries in Forest Hills used to be maintained by Milton Zelkowitz, who was also our high holiday cantor in Carnegie for about 10 years. Milt passed a few years ago and I believe that his son Louis now tends after the cemeteries. We buried Milt in the very cemetery that he tended. Louis lives in Squirrel Hill and would be an excellent source of information.

  11. Dave Bertenthal

    The cemetery in Forest Hills are really two cemeteries. They are known as the Braddock Cemetery and Sixth Street cemetery to me. They coexist now and still have buriels Milt and now his son Louis Zelkowitz were in charge of maintaining the cemetery. My maternal grandparents are buried in the Braddock Cemetery. Ira Frank, a cousin, can be contacted for more information (412-281-4064). Ira is also president ofour downtown synagogue.

  12. Steven H. Hirsch

    Rabbi Weiss officiated at my Bar Mitzvah on March 17, 1962.
    I was the only non-adult member of the shul’s choir, and even directed it at one point, when Dr. William Poel left that position.

    Rabbi Rudolphe Weiss and Irene Weiss’ son, Harry, had the contact information posted below as of 2007. Harry was with the Indian Health Service in Sacramento, CA.

    Harry Weiss, Contract Specialist, Phone 916.930.3927, Fax 916.930.3952, Email harry.weiss@mail.ihs.gov

    His younger brother, Jeffrey, can be reached as follows:

    Jeffrey Weiss, CPA
    Partner, Goldstein Schechter Koch
    2121 Ponce De Leon Blvd
    11th Floor
    Coral Gables, FL 33134Phone:305.442.2200 ext. 223
    Email: jeff.weiss@gskcpas.com
    Jeffrey Weiss is a Tax Partner with almost 30 years of experience and has expertise in tax compliance, IRS and state examinations, research, small business issues, retirement, estate and income tax planning. Jeffrey has a Bachelor degree from Tel Aviv University in Israel, and an M.B.A. from the University of Pittsburgh. He has authored articles and lectured at seminars on related tax topics. He holds membership in the AICPA and FICPA, Beta Gamma Sigma and belongs to the Estate Planning Council of Greater Miami. He also serves as an officer on the executive board of the Young Israel of Greater Miami.

    I was not privy to the issues concerning Rabbi Weiss’ credentials, but I did know that one of the reasons he and his family relocated to Florida was for his health. Sometime in 1985 or 1986, I visited with him and Irene in Sunrise, FL. He was retired by that time and was suffering from painful scleroderma.

    My family joined Ahavath Achim in 1960, and because I was musically trained and vocally gifted, Rabbi Weiss tutored me in cantillation and liturgy to the point that I served as a boy-soprano cantorial soloist between the ages of 12 – 14. I remember assisting during the High Holy Days when a Mr. Caruso was our chazzan.

    I accompanied the Weiss family on a three-week road trip to Pompano Beach, FL, in the spring of 1962, my first time away from my own family for that long a period. Rabbi Weiss asked to take me so that he could offer his potential new congregants an example of what he could do with regard to training young people for service in the synagogue, and I did quite a bit of singing when we were there. I also caught my first king mackerel and saw my first coconut palm. It was quite an adventure for me, and introduced me to the Jim Crow south. I remember my shock at seeing two water fountains at a gas station: one for whites and one for “coloreds”.

    I do remember that after Rabbi Weiss and his family left for Pompano Beach, Rabbi Zoltan Racz became his successor, and the rumor I heard about his departure is best left for private emails. I was only 15 at the time.

  13. Paula Perry

    Rabbi Weiss officiated at my Bat Mitzvah in 1972 and my confirmation (can’t remember the year) at B’nai Israel Synagogue in Pensacola, Florida. He also officiated at my older brother Bar Mitzvah–I’m thinking 1966?

    Paula Perry

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