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SALANT, SAMUEL:

Chief rabbi of the Ashkenazic congregations in Jerusalem; born Jan. 2, 1816, at Byelostok, Russia. Samuel married the daughter of Sundl of Salant and assumed the name "Salant." At an early age his lungs became affected, and he was advised to seek a warm climate. This induced him in 1840 to go with his wife and his son Benjamin Beinish to Jerusalem. At Constantinople he met and gained the friendship of Sir Moses Montefiore, then on his way to defend the Damascus Jews who had been falsely accused of ritual murders. Salant arrived in Jerusalem in 1841, and rejoined Sundl of Salant, his father-in-law, and about 500 Ashkenazim, who had preceded him. From 1848 to 1851 Salant, as a "meshullaḥ" (see Ḥaluḳḳah), visited the principal cities of Lithuania and Poland. He reorganized the Wilna congregation ("Kolel") so successfully that its ḥaluḳḳah contributions were nearly doubled. In 1860 he went to Germany, to Amsterdam, and to London, and on his return succeeded in inducing the trustees who had charge of the ḥaluḳḳah to divide the contributions equally between the Sephardim and Ashkenazim. Salant also collected donations for the building of the synagogue Bet Ya'aḳob in Jerusalem. In 1878 he succeeded Meïr Auerbach as chief rabbi of the Ashkenazim.

Samuel Salant.

In 1888 Salant's eyesight began to fail, and a few years later he became blind; but this did not impair his usefulness and activity in Jewish affairs. In 1900, however, he requested an assistant; and accordingly Rabbi Elijah David Rabbinowitz-Theomim of Russia was selected for the position.

Salant is an eminent Talmudist, but not an author of any consequence. He has excellent executive ability, as is shown in his leadership in the Jewish community. He is the head of the "wa'ad ha-kelali" (central committee) of the Ashkenazic ḥaluḳ-ḳah in Palestine, to which all contributions are addressed. He has won the sympathy and confidence of the outside world by his moderation and by his toleration toward all classes of Jews. Salant as chief rabbi of the Ashkenazim and Jacob Saul Alyashar as chief rabbi of the Sephardim maintain friendly intercourse, and generally act in harmony in matters concerning the welfare of the community at large.

Bibliography:
  • Sokolow, Sefer Zikkaron, pp. 181-184, Warsaw, 1890.
J. J. D. E.
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