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Rabbi Henry Pereira Mendes

Rabbi Henry Pereira Mendes

Male 1852 - 1937  (85 years)

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  • Name Henry Pereira Mendes 
    Prefix Rabbi 
    Born 13 Apr 1852  Birmingham, England Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Gender Male 
    Biography Born on April 13, 1852, H. Pereira Mendes came from a long line of Sephardic rabbis, including his father, Abraham Pereira Mendes, and his maternal grandfather, David Aaron de Sola. Mendes was born and raised in England. At the age of twelve he began his studies at London's Northwick College, a religious school founded and directed by his father. From 1870 through 1872, while continuing his studies at Northwick, Mendes also attended London's University College.
    In 1873, Mendes began his ministry at the newly-formed Sephardic congregation in Manchester, England. In 1877, he was called to the United States to serve as preacher in New York City's Congregation Shearith Israel, where he was to remain the rest of his life. Apart from serving Shearith Israel as preacher, hazzan and pastor, Mendes was involved in a vast array of other activities. He received a medical degree from New York University in 1884 and he was awarded an honorary degree from Jewish Theological Seminary in 1902 and one from the Jewish Institute of Religion in 1937.
    Rabbi Mendes was instrumental in the organization of many communal projects in New York, such as the Montefiore Hospital, the Institute for the Improved Instruction of Deaf-Mutes, the New York Guild for the Jewish Blind and the New York Kehillah. Mendes also participated in the founding and support of numerous national Jewish Organizations and institutions, such as the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations, the Jewish Theological Seminary and the Board of Delegates of American Israelites. In addition, Mendes worked closely with other Sephardic congregations in the United States, helping to bring some into existence and to rejuvenate others.
    Mendes was one of the first American Zionists. He was among the founders of the Zionist Organization of America and he served as vice-president of the Federation of American Zionists. Until his death, he worked to promote the religious ideals of Zionism.
    Rabbi Mendes was also a writer. His books include religious books for children and adults, prayer books, poetry and plays.
    Henry Pereira Mendes died October 21, 1937 in New York City. He was survived by his wife, Rosalie Piza Mendes, and his two sons, A. Piza Mendes and Samuel Pereira Mendes.

    Henry Pereira Mendes
    Rev. Dr. Henry Pereira Mendes

    H. Pereira Mendes (unknown date).
    Congregation Shearith Israel
    New York City, New York, United States
    Jacques Judah Lyons
    David de Sola Pool
    Personal details
    April 13, 1852
    Birmingham, United Kingdom
    October 21, 1937
    Mount Vernon, New York
    Abraham Pereira Mendes, Eliza de Sola
    Rosalie Rebecca Piza
    Abraham Piza Mendes, Heber Piza Mendes, Samuel Pereira Mendes
     • Rabbi
    Alma mater
    Northwick College (Rabbinics); University College, London; New York University (M.D.)
    Henry Pereira Mendes (13 April 1852 – 21 October 1937),[1] was an American rabbi who was born in Birmingham, England and died in New York City.
    Family history and education
    Henry Pereira Mendes was born into an old Spanish & Portuguese rabbinic family. His father Abraham Pereira Mendes was Rabbi in Birmingham, England, as well as in Jamaica and the Touro Synagogue in Newport, Rhode Island. His grandfather David Aaron de Sola was the Rabbi at Bevis Marks Synagogue in London, and his great-grandfather Raphael Meldola was the Chief Sephardic Rabbi of London.
    He was educated at Northwick College (rabbinics), at University College (London). In Addition, he studied and graduated from the medical school of New York University, taking the degree of M.D. (1884). The degree of D.D. was conferred upon him by the Jewish Theological Seminary of America (1904).
    On October 15, 1890, Henry married Rosalie Rebecca Piza, daughter of Samuel and Rachel Piza of St. Thomas, Danish West Indies.
    Rabbinic career
    In 1874, Rev. Mendes became Minister of the newly formed Sephardic congregation in Manchester, England.
    In 1877, he was called to the Congregation Shearith Israel of New York where he served for 60 years until his death in 1937. As his successor, Rabbi David de Sola Pool, describes it: "The Rev. Jacques Judah Lyons, the venerable hazan of the congregation, was failing in health, and he passed away on August 13, when Dr. Mendes had been installed for only two and a half months. It was no easy task for the young preacher from abroad to fill the void created by the death of Mr. Lyons, who was bound to the congregation by almost forty years....But Dr. Mendes loyally continued the traditions....It is impossible to record the untiring affectionate personal service which Dr. Mendes at all times gave to the members of his congregation in joy and in inspiration to the bride and bridegroom under the canopy, and a stay of strength to those stricken by bereavement. He was a spiritual father to two generations in his congregation. However occupied or weary he might be, no call ever found him other than ready to respond.”[2]
    In addition, to synagogue duties, Rev. Mendes served as professor of homiletics at Yeshiva Isaac Elchanan from 1917 to 1920.
    Musical Contributions
    Rev. Mendes also made musical contributions to the congregation. As Jewish music scholar Neil W. Levin explains: "Mendes also composed settings for the hazzan and choir of Shearith Israel, judiciously retaining the stylistic continuity of the Amsterdam Sephardi musical tradition and preserving its unique aura and melodic character, and some of these settings earned a place in the congregation’s permanent standard repertoire. Such is the case with his setting of uv’nukho yomar, sung to this day at the conclusion of the Torah service after the Torah scrolls have been replaced in the ark, and his setting of Psalm 23."
    On March 5, 1892, he was shot in the abdomen at his home by a beggar named Jose Mizrachee, narrowly escaping with his life. Years later, at the man's passing, Dr. Mendes paid for his funeral and ensuring a proper Jewish burial.
    Organizational activities
    During his long career, Dr. Mendes participated in the establishment of a number of organizations for the betterment of both Jews and non-Jews:
    • New York Board of Ministers - In 1881, he was one of the founders of the New York Board of Ministers and acted as its secretary from its foundation up to 1901 when he became president.
    • Jewish Theological Seminary - In 1886, Rev. Mendes joined Sabato Morais in helping to establish the Jewish Theological Seminary, of which he became secretary of the advisory board and professor of history. On the death of Dr. Morais, he became acting president of the faculty until the appointment of Solomon Schechter in 1902.
    • Montefiore Home - In 1884, the centennial of the birth of Sir Moses Montefiore, Rev. Mendes moved his congregation to convene the leading Jews of New York to mark the event by some practical work. The outcome was the Montefiore Home for Chronic Invalids, established in the same year.
    • Guild for Crippled Children - In 1896, he was made vice-president of the Guild for Crippled Children, and in 1901 established the Jewish branch of that guild.
    • Orthodox Union - He promoted the formation of the Union of Orthodox Congregations of the United States and Canada (1897) and was subsequently elected its president.
    • Young Women's Hebrew Association - He was also one of the founders of the Young Women's Hebrew Association of New York (1902).
    Rev. Mendes was an ardent voice in the striving for a Jewish homeland. He was asked by Theodore Herzl to spread the Zionist cause in America and became one of the founders of the Federation of American Zionists, serving as Vice-President. He was also a member of the Actions Committee of Vienna (1898–99). Following are some of his writings on the issue:
    • "The Solution of Zionism," The North American Review, 1 Aug 1895
    • "Zionism," The North American Review, 1 Jan 1897
    • "The Zionist Conference in Basle, Notes and Comments," The North American Review, 1 Nov 1898
    • "The Hague Conference and Palestine," The North American Review, 7 Sept 1906
    • "The Rejuvenation of the Jew," The North American Review, 1 Jan 1897
    Books and articles
    Rev. Mendes authored books on a wide range of topics: Judaism, history, current affairs, and even fiction -- always with an ethical message. In addition, he was a prolific contributor to various journals. Together with his brother Frederick de Sola Mendes and others, he was one of the founders of "The American Hebrew" (1879). He wrote as well for the North American Review. Following is a partial list of his writings:
    • Union Primer and Reading Book (1882)
    • Jewish History, Ethically Presented (1895)
    • The Jewish Religion, Ethically Presented (1904)
    • Jewish Daily Life, Ethically Presented (1917)
    • Bar-Mitzvah for Boyhood, Youth and Manhood
    History and Current Affairs
    • "The Lifting of the Veil: Introductory Lecture on Jewish History and Literature," 1898
    • "Looking Ahead: 20th Century Happenings" (1899)
    • The Earl of Beaconsfield, Keys to the Famous Characters (1904)
    • Esther and Harbonah (a play in three acts)
    • In Old Egypt: A Story about the Bible but not in the Bible
    • Judas Maccabaeus: A Chanuka play for Sunday school children, 1898
    References and further reading
    •  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Singer, Isidore; et al., eds. (1901–1906). "Mendes". Jewish Encyclopedia. New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company.
    • de Sola Pool, David, H. Pereira Mendes: A Biography, 1938.
    1 "Henry Pereira Mendes Papers". The Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives. Retrieved 10 April 2017.
    2 Levine, Yitzchok (11 September 2013). "Reverend Henry Pereira Mendes: Orthodox Stalwart (Part I) | Everyday Jewish Living | OU Life". Orthodox Union Life. Retrieved 19 December 2017.
    • "The Religious Vision of Rev. Dr. Henry Pereira Mendes" by Rabbi Marc D. Angel
    • "Reverent Henry Pereira Mendes: Orthodox Stalwart" by Dr. Yitzchok Levine
    External links
    • Works by Henry Pereira Mendes at Faded Page (Canada)  [1
    Hebrew Birth 24 Nis 5612 
    Immigration 1877  New York, NY, USA Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Residence 1877-1937  New York, NY, USA Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Hebrew Death 16 Che 5698 
    Occupation Rabbi of Spanish and Portuguese Congregation 
    Residence Birmingham, England Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Died 21 Oct 1937  New York, NY, USA Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Person ID I14215  Blank Family
    Last Modified 23 Dec 2018 

    Father Rabbi Abraham Pereira Mendes,   b. 9 Feb 1825, Kingston, Jamaica Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 18 Apr 1893, New York, NY, USA Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 68 years) 
    Mother Eliza de Sola,   d. Yes - date unknown 
    Family ID F10167  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family Rosalie Rebecca Piza,   b. 7 Jun 1868, St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, Danish West Indies Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 19 Feb 1953, New York, NY, USA Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 84 years) 
    Married 15 Oct 1890 
     1. Abraham Piza Mendes,   b. New York, NY, USA Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Yes - date unknown
     2. Samuel Pereira Mendes,   b. New York, NY, USA Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Yes - date unknown
     3. Heber Piza Mendes
    Last Modified 23 Dec 2018 
    Family ID F10165  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Event Map
    Link to Google MapsBorn - 13 Apr 1852 - Birmingham, England Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsImmigration - 1877 - New York, NY, USA Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsResidence - 1877-1937 - New York, NY, USA Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsResidence - - Birmingham, England Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsDied - 21 Oct 1937 - New York, NY, USA Link to Google Earth
     = Link to Google Earth 
    Pin Legend  : Address       : Location       : City/Town       : County/Shire       : State/Province       : Country       : Not Set

  • Photos
    Rabbi Henry Pereira Mendes
    Rabbi Henry Pereira Mendes
    Rabbi Henry Pereira Mendes

    Passport Application of Henry Mendes in 1920
    Passport Application of Henry Mendes in 1920

  • Sources 
    1. [S490] American Jewish Archives, Henry Pereira Mendes Papers.

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