Rabbi Isaiah Wohlgemuth was a legendary teacher who pioneered the teaching of Jewish prayer with his outstanding Beurei HaTefillah course at Maimonides School in Boston, Massachusetts. In this updated and expanded edition, the reader can now share in the knowledge that Rabbi Wohlgemuth lovingly transmitted to his students.
RABBI ISAIAH WOHLGEMUTH (1915 – 2008) was part of a “greatest generation” of post-World War II Jewish leadership who helped to rejuvenate an American Jewish community badly in need of educational direction. During his tenure at the Maimonides School in Boston, Massachusetts, Rabbi Wohlgemuth attracted generations of young people to the warmth of Torah. He was a gentle man and a beautiful teacher with a brilliant mind and a clear philosophy.
Rabbi Wohlgemuth was ordained at the Hildesheimer Rabbinical Seminary in Berlin. In 1935, he returned home to Kitzingen, in the district of Bavaria, where he became the youngest pulpit rabbi in Germany at the time. In 1938, his synagogue was among the thousands devastated on Kristallnacht. Rabbi Wohlgemuth was confined to Dachau, and after his release in 1939, he was able to escape to the United States. Shortly thereafter, he came to Boston where he embraced the ideals of Rav Joseph B. Soloveitchik in the teaching of Torah and Yiddishkeit. It was also here that he met his wife Bertha Oberndoerfer. They were married in 1943. Rabbi Wohlgemuth developed a close relationship with Rav Soloveitchik, founder of the Maimonides School, who took a particular interest in Rabbi Wohlgemuth’s tefillah course and insisted that no student graduate without it.
Rabbi Isaiah Wohlgemuth was, above all, a master teacher whom few could match and who was able to instill a love of learning in all his students. He cared and empathized with each of his students and they reciprocated with their admiration and respect.
Rabbi Wohlgemuth’s classroom and this book are his legacy to us.
ABOUT THE EDITORS
Asher Reichert received semicha from Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary. He and his wife, Rashie, live in Israel with most of their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Eliyahu Krakowski is Associate Editor of OU Press.