Kabbalist and Communal Leader: Rabbi Yudel Rosenberg and the Canadian Jewish Community

Ira Robinson


The social, economic and religious pressures encountered by
Eastern European Jews who emigrated to North America have
been well documented. But focus on these areas has mostly failed
to take into account the relationship between Orthodox Judaism
and the process of adaptation to the New World. At the turn of
the century, Orthodox rabbis, immigrants themselves, actively
wrestled with the competing demands of Orthodox tradition and
modern society. One such rabbi, Judah (Yudel) Rosenberg,
brought with him to Canada a background combining both
traditional Hasidism and secular learning. Rosenberg sought to
draw the people closer to tradition by making it more accessible
to them. Mysticism, especially, he viewed as the key to the
preservation and regeneration of Judaism amongst a population
that found it easier to make excuses than to follow the letter of
religious law.

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