Rabbis of the Anshe Emeth Congregation

Although remote, Pine Bluff was privileged to attract quality rabbis from 1867 to the mid-1980s.

Rabbi Jacob BlochRabbi S. Howard Schwartz

Years of Service
Jacob Bloch 1867
Anshe Emeth's first rabbi was Jacob Bloch. Bloch first tried to supplement his income by opening a private school and he advertised in a local paper:

Reverand Jacob Bloch desires to inform the public that he will give instruction in any elementary or higher branches (of education) and especially in the German language. Every effor made to give satisfaction. Terms: moderate. Residence: In the house formerly occupied by Cpt Wm. P. Steven.

That effort was apparently not successful because he then turned to teaching with the city schoold system. At a December 1870 high school cornerstone ceremony, he was part of "a grand procession that included city officials and brass bands." The parade was led by Col. J. W. Bocage and included Bloch's students. The high scool on the North side of West Sith Street between Laurel and Beech. "First on the order of march from the city schools was 'Reverand Jacob bloch (Preceptor) and Pupils.'"

On 8 December 1870 the Press ran a notice:

NIGHT SCHOOL:By request of many citizens, I will open immediately a Night School at which all branches will be taught especially German and English. for particulars, apply to Rev. Jacob Bloch.

(also see book for 110th Anniversary)
Moses Flugel 1871
Rabbi Flugel was a German immigrant with a heavy accent and was described as having "deficient delivery". However he was thought to be "one of the finest classical scholars in the country".

He arrived from Quincy, Illinois on 10 September 1872 and the Press said he would deliver "the first of a series of lectures at the Synagogue on Friday evening at 7 1/2 O'Clock." "The new Rabbi was well liked from the beginning" Services were held Fridays at 7:30PM and Saturdays at 9:00AM. Fluegel felt 'all Hebrews are expected to attend divine service whether members of the congregation or not." On the Friday after Thanksgiving in 1872, Rabbi Fluegel's sermon was titled "One God and One Humanity" and the crowd was overflowing.
(also see book for 110th Anniversary)
Meyer Greenblatt 1876-1885 Rabbi Greenblatt was an "enthusiastic elocutionist". He was a talented musician who strengthen the Anshe Emeth's music program with talented congregants: Professor Eugene Ellinger (then Pine Bluff's most accomplished musician) organist Birdie Weiler, May Blumenthal and Mrs. Sam Franklin; and Rabbi Greenblatt even brought some gentiles into the choir.

Rabbi Greenblatt contracted typhoid fever and died while serving; he's the only rabbi to have been buried in Pine Bluff. The ISJL.org website lists him as 'Maier Greenblatt (1849-1885). He left a widow and three sons. Greenblatt had fled his birth country of Germany "to this country due to religious prejudices and feuds."

Rabbi Greenblatt was dearly beloved by the congregation and "A Tribute of Respect to the momory of Rabbi M. Greenblatt, 12-27-85", signed by Gabe Meyer, David Ascheffenberg, A.S. Honnett, Adolph Meyer and D.M. Blumenthal was published in the Pine Bluff Commercial on December 31, 1885"

(also see book for 110th Anniversary)
Ferdianand Becker 1887-1898 A Sabbath School was begun during this time. Membership grew such during Rabbi Becker's tenure that a larger building was needed, and it wasn't finished until 1902.
Joseph Kornfield 1898-1904  Rabbi Kornfiled "married a local belle, Josephine Blumenthal". He was rabbi at the time the second Anshe Emeth temple opened.
Ephriam Frisch 1904-1912 Rabbi Frisch was a "noted spiritual leader". He was outspoken in the community and most interested in social justice.The Anshe Emeth women started a Ladies' Benevolent society (headed by Mrs. Sam Blumenthal) and Willing Workers, a charity.
Joseph Jasin 1912-1916 Rabbi Jasin contributed to the founding of the Pine Bluff Associated Charities, which became the Community Chest and then the United Way. He served as it's chairmen.
Raphael Goldenstein 1916-1919 Rabbi Goldenstein led a 1917 celebration. He produced Anshe Emeth''s history and established a Sabbath School Library Association.
Leonard Rothstein 1919-1923 There was a schism in the congregation in 1921 and Rabbi Rothstein wiped out the efforts started by Rabbi Goldenstein at geling the congregation. Rabbi Rothstein was radical. "He abolished the old pew system, which entailed dues for specific seatingand opened membership to women." He was outspoken as he denounced the Pine Bluff School Board for inviting a member of the Ku Klux Klan to speak at a school auditorium. Some members thought Rothstein was too extreme and in 1921, 58 members incorporated a new congregation (Temple Israel). Among this group were 'Anshe emeth's most outstanding members' including Simon Bloom, Henry Marx, Jake Stein, Henry Sonfield, Emanuel Buckingham "Buck" Bloom, Mrs. Herbert blumenthal, Mrs. Ike Leitner, Henry Lewine, M.L. Reinberber and Abe Soltz.
Full disclosure: brothers Simon Bloom and E.B. Bloom were my great uncles and Simon Bloom was Pine bluff's first Jewish mayor, serving from 1913 to 1919. In at least one case (the Gabe Meyer family) husband and wife went with different congregations. As in the case of Rabbi Frisch, Rabbi Rothstein had a problem with the Pine bluff citizenry and left complaining of "narrowness and blindness of the communiy at large'.
Louis Brav *   Rabbi Brav was rabbi at Temple Israel even though the congregation had a permanent house of worship.
Mayer Lippman   Rabbi Lippman had a short time at Anshe Emeth.
Morris Clark 1927-1949 Rabbi Clark had the longest tenure of any of Anshe Emeth's rabbis. He did much work with the Arkansas Jewish Assembly.
Henry Sandman   Rabbi Sandman served at the time of Anshe Emeth's 85th anniversary in 1952.
Solomon Herbst   According to legend, Rabbi Herbst stood on his head to teach children Hebrew.
Hyman Solomon    
Herbert J. Weiss    
Solomon Kaplan    
S. Howard Schwartz 1966-1967 Rabbi Schwartz officiated at Anshe Emeth's Centenial celebration in March 1967. Howard Schwartz was a student rabbi who flew to Pine Bluff from Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati twice a month. Rabbi Schwartz was ordained in 1969 and he served also congregations in Muncie, IN; Memphis, TN; Dix Hills, NY; Utica, NY; and Corpus Christi, TX. He left the rabbinite in 1977 and later became an Army Chaplin. Only to return as rabbi for about three year in Kissimmee, Fl. and DeLand, Fl.
Robert Alper 1967-1968 Rabbi Alper had a short stay in Pine Bluff as he later became a stand-up comedian.
Alvin Silverman    
Leslie Sertes 1970-mid 1980s Rabbi Sertes was the congregation's last full-time rabbi and he was present for the congregations 110th anniversary in 1977. Rabbi Sertes moved around quite a bit so his period of service at Pine Bluff was not contiguous.



My primary source for this page was a book, A Corner of the Tapestry by Carolyn Gray LeMaster, 1994 University of Arkansas Press.
Additional sources were Anshe Emeth anniversary books prepared for the 85th (in 1952), 100th (in 1967) and 110th (in 1977) congregation celebrations.