Rabbi Abraham Blum: Third Rabbi of Congregation B’nai B’rith, Los Angeles

Rabbi Abraham Blum

Abraham Blum, the 3rd Rabbi of Congregation B’nai B’rith in His Later Years

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Rabbi Abraham Blum was born in Gutzenheim, near Strasbourg, in Alsace in 1843 – when the province was under French rule.

He received his Rabbinic training at the Rabbical School at Niederbronn, where he graduated at the age of 17.

 

Rabbi Blum arrived in the United States in 1866.

He served synagogues in Ohio and Galveston, Texas before coming to Los Angeles in 1889 to the pulpit of Congregation B’nai B’rith, (now Wilshire Boulevard Temple).

He served in Galveston for 14 years, and while there, received a Medical Degree from a local college.

 

Los Angeles Years

During his time in Los Angeles the city was going through a serious economic downturn which affected the synagogue as well as relations between the Rabbi and its Board of Directors.

To help matters, the Rebbitzin, Hanna Henrigues Blum, took on the chores of the Synagogue’s School Principal – the first Rebbitzin to be envolved in the workings of the Temple.

She built the Sunday School attendence up to 132 children.

 

Rabbi Blum re-activated the Associated Charities of Los Angeles – originally organized by Rabbi Schreibner before him. Times were difficult again in Los Angeles.

The 2nd Building of Congregation B’nai B’rith Where Rabbi Blum Served

 

Rabbi Blum is also credited with performing the first conversion to Judaism in Los Angeles – that of Edward Kinney.

 

The Synagogue continued its drift torward more Reform services and some “Orthodox” members finally left – placing a bigger strain on the finances of the synagoue.

The Board was forced to discontinue the chior and let go its organist.

Rabbi Blum fueled Board discontent when they discovered he had applied for a part-time job as a French teacher at the Los Angeles High School.

In 1884 the Rabbi and the Board agreed that he should leave “gracefully” after one more year. However, after the next High Holy Days, Rabbi Blum refused to leave so he was dismissed in 1885.

 

Leaving California, Rabbi Blum moved to New York City where he made a good name for himself.

He became the Rabbi of both Bellview and Lebonon Hospitals, Head of the Board of Jewish Ministers, and most important, the First Jewish Chaplain of the New York Police Department from 1911 to 1921.

Recently on the 100th anniversary of the NYPD Jewish Chaplaincy, Rabbi Abraham Blum was honored as the “Founder of the NYPD Jewish Chapaincy” in a special event at 1 Police Plaza. Western States Jewish History helped with both information and photographs that were part of that special day.

 

Real Estate

The Blums also invested in real estate – acquiring a 1/2 block on 77th street in Manhattan.

 

Fraternal

Rabbi Blum was a member of Orange Lodge #224 of B’nai B’rith and served as its Vice-President.

 

Family

Abraham Blum married Hanna Henrigues in Galveston TX in 1871

They had two sons: Jacques and Ralph.

 

Rabbi Abraham Blum passed away in 1921 – the 3rd Rabbi of Los Angeles and the first Jewish Chaplian of the New York City Police Department.

 

More information can be found in the following issues of Western States Jewish History:

  • Blum, Rabbi Abraham; Rabbi Abraham Blum: From Alsace to New York by Way of Texas and California; Part 1; Western States; Clar, Reva & Kramer, William M.; 12/1
  • Blum, Rabbi Abraham; Rabbi Abraham Blum: From Alsace to New York by Way of Texas and California; Part 2; Western States; Clar, Reva & Kramer, William M.; 12/2
  • Blum, Rabbi Abraham; Rabbi Abraham Blum: From Alsace to New York by Way of Texas and California; Part 3; San Francisco; Clar, Reva & Kramer, William M.; 12/3

 

More Early Los Angeles Jewish Pioneers

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