|Birth: ||Jan. 20, 1908|
|Death: ||Jun. 2, 1971|
St. Louis County
Rabbi Epstein served Congregation Shaare Zedek, St. Louis, Missouri for over 35 years (1934-1969). This would be his only pulpit. He is listed along with other rabbis who served St. Louis congregations. The full list can be found at SAINT LOUIS RABBIS.
A RABBI FOR GENERATIONS
from The First Hundred Years
by Jody S. Feldman
Reproduced with permission
He didn't stand very tall, but his presence loomed larger than any in the sanctuary. Inevitably, during a lull in the service, whatever service, there'd come time when congregants would begin some social whispering. The whispers would become widespread murmurs. And he'd stand, staring with a deafening silence that quieted the room. Then in his clear, distinct voice, he'd continue the service. Later, those same scolding eyes would hold a twinkle, his voice would tell a joke, and his face would offer a ready smile for everyone. Especially children.
Rabbi Ephraim Epstein was almost still a child himself in 1934, the year he received his ordination from Yeshiva University of New York City, married Miss Louise Gorodinsky and was installed as spiritual leader of Shaare Zedek Synagogue.
This Rabbi Epstein had a great and lofty tradition and a magnificent heritage to uphold. As the 16th generation of an unbroken line of rabvbis on his maternal side, he was also a direct descendant, on his paternal side.=, of the Ga0n Rabbi Ezekiel Landau, the chief Rabbi of Prague during the reign of Empress Maria Theresa in rhe 1760's. More recently, the footprints of his reverend father, the late Chaim Fishel Epstein, who was the chief Rabbi of the Orthodox Jewish community, were deeply imprinted, but Rabbi Ephraim Epstein filled them admirably and made impressions of his own.
He may not have founded our congregation, may have arrived nearly 30 years after our inception, but to many, Rabbi Epstein and Shaare Zedek will be inextricably entwined.
Together, through the years, Rabbi Epstein and Shaare Zedek experienced periods of financial recession, depression and progression. With growth and neighborhood shifts, there were times when the High Holy Days services had to be conducted at the YMHA, in private homes and in a tent, but the congregation's fervor and zeal remained steadfast, honoring the rabbi's sincerity, enthusiasm and dynamism.
Rabbi Epstein had vision as well. Because Shaare Zedek began as an Orthodox synagogue, women and men sat separately during services. When the time came to build our new sanctuary, the younger members of the congregation insisted they be allowed to sit together. They also wanted a microphone. With an eye toward the future, Rabbi Epstein agreed, though with a compromise. For those who still wanted the separation of the sexes, the men sat on the right of the synagogue, the women on the left and couples in the middle.
Rabbi Epstein was devoted to Jewish learning. When the head of our community's Jewish Education cut one of our programs, the rabbi fought for his teacher and demanded the program be reinstated. He was an advocate, a community leader, but most of all a teacher. How he loved Jewish history.
The one thing Rabbi Epstein was not, was a parent. He and Louise had no children. However, all his love and devotion was directed toward his congregants.
In his 30-plus years of service, Rabbi Epstein served some families of the synagogue for four generations, always with understanding. deep concern and close personal interest. His own faith and determination to face up to and overcome adversity stood as pillars of strength for those around him. Shaare Zedek was his first and only congregation. Together we grew wiser, stronger and able to face the future with confidence. END
The rabbi featured on this Find A Grave page is one of many included in a "Virtual Cemetery" of rabbis who've passed but who served on St. Louis pulpits during their rabbinate. The complete "Virtual Cemetery" list can be found at SAINT LOUIS RABBIS. Questions about this "Virtual Cemetery" project may be directed to:
Chaim Fishel Epstein (1874 - 1942)
Ethel Novidello Epstein (1880 - 1950)
Louise Gorodinsky Epstein (1913 - 1980)
Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery
St. Louis County
Plot: Section G, Lot 42, Grave 2W
Created by: Brent Stevens
Record added: Dec 23, 2011
Find A Grave Memorial# 82319363