Rabbi Henry Gershon Vidaver: Orator and Patriot of San Francisco

Rabbi Henry Vidaver

Rabbi Henry Vidaver WS 13/1903

Rabbi Henry Vidaver
WS 13/1903

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Henry Vidaver was born in Warsaw, Poland.

Rabbi Henry Vidaver served as the spiritual leader of Congrega­tion B’nai Jeshurun of New York, from 1865 to 1873. That synagogue was New York’s first Ashkenazi Congregation, having been founded in 1825.


San Francisco

In 1873, Rabbi Vidaver came to San Francisco to serve at Congregation Sherith Israel.

He made an enviable record in California, and was reputed to have been the outstanding pulpit orator in the San Francisco of his day.

One commentator, Gustav Danziger, wrote in 1895 that Rabbi Henry Vidaver “excelled in learning of all the Rabbis that have ever been in San Francisco, past or present.”

In addition, Vidaver was easily the city’s handsomest Rabbi.



Rabbi Vidaver WS 13/1902

Rabbi Vidaver
WS 13/1902

Rabbi Vidaver was in great demand as a lecturer and was frequently called upon to travel to nearby communities to address Jewish and non-Jewish groups.

Rabbi Vidaver became a great patriot of his adopted country, and advised his people not only to appreciate America, but to become “thoroughly identified with this, our glorious land of freedom.”


Henry Vidaver died in 1882 and was interred in the Row of Honor at Hills of Eternity, Colma. California just South of San Francisco.






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

  • Vidaver, Henry; American Career of Rabbi Henry Vidaver; San Francisco; Margolies, Morris B.; 16/1
  • Vidaver, Rabbi Henry, Pioneer Jews of San Francisco, Part Two, M-Z, Norton Stern, 41/2

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