Elias Abraham Rosenberg, Jewish Astrologer and Hebrew & Torah Teacher to the Hawaiian King

Elias Abraham Rosenberg

 — AKA “Holy Moses” Rosenberg — 

Values Codes H – E – L

  

Elias Abraham Rosenberg was born in Russia in 1810.

 

Along the way . . .

Elias Rosenberg lived in England and Australia before moving to San Francisco, around 1880.

From 1880-1884, he worked as a peddler. He also sold lottery tickets — illegally.

 

Hawaii

In January 1887, Rosenberg traveled to Honolulu, Hawaii.

There, he became the Official Astrologer to King David Kalakaua.

He also taught Bible and Hebrew to King Kalakaua.

 

In June of 1887, Rosenberg’s “predictions” of trouble for the king came true, as Kalakaua was ousted from power after presenting Rosenberg with a gold medal and silver cup.

A week later, Elias Rosenberg quickly returned to San Francisco.

 

Family

Elias Rosenberg married for the first time in 1828.

In 1885, Rosenberg married his second wife, Merriam Hyer.

He had 4 children: Rachel, from his first marriage, and Adolph, Sarah Rebecca and Mark from his second marriage.

 

Elias Rosenberg died in July 1887.

He is buried at Hills of Eternity Cemetery in Colma, California, just south of San Francisco.

Elias Rosenberg's Grave, Colma CA

Elias Rosenberg’s Grave, Colma CA

Legacy

Elias Rosenberg’s Torah Scroll and Yad

During his 1887 stay in Honolulu, Rosenberg gifted the King Kalakaua the sefer Torah (Torah scroll) and yad (reading pointer) that he had brought with him to the islands.

The yad was inscribed:

“This is the pointer vowed by R. Elias Abraham Rosenberg in the year 5645.”

The Kalakaua Yad

The Kalakaua Yad

King David Kalakaua died in 1891, and his widow, Queen Dowager Kapiolani, died in 1899.

She left all her property – including the Torah and yad – to her nephews, Prince David Kawananakoa and Prince Jonah Kuhio Kalanianaole.

Around 1900, the Torah scroll was used during High Holiday services by Rabbi R. I. Coffee’s congregation in Honolulu.

The Kalakaua Torah Scroll

The Kalakaua Torah Scroll

In 1908, Prince Kawanankoa died, leaving all of his effects to Princess Abigail Campbell Kawananakoa.

Throughout her lifetime, Abigail lent the Torah Scroll and yad to the Honolulu Jewish Community for Holy Day use.

In 1959, a Mrs. Katherine Johnson gave the yad to Rabbi Roy A. Rosenberg (no relation to Elias), the Rabbi of Temple Emanu-El in Honolulu.

In 1960, Rabbi Rosenberg used the yad in the ceremony to dedicate the Temple Emanu-El building.

The Torah Scroll had disappeared when Princess Abigail Kawananakoa died in 1945.

In 1972, it reappeared and, with the yad, became a fixture in the synagogue.

Temple Emanu-El of Hawaii

Temple Emanu-El of Hawaii

Sources

Samantha Silver is curator of this Elias Rosenberg exhibit.

Photo credits for the Yad and Torah: Bernard H. Levinson Hawaii Jewish Archives, Honolulu, HI

Thanks also to Larry Steinberg, archivist for the Hawaii Jewish Archivesfor both additional information as well as the photograph of Elias Rosenberg’s gravesite.