We are saddened to announce the passing on Shabbat Parashat Balak (June 26, 2010) in Israel of Rabbi Dr. Moshe Carmilly-Weinberger, Professor Emeritus of Jewish Studies at Yeshiva University. He was born into an Orthodox family in Budapest on April 7, 1908 but spent his childhood in Transylvania, where he received both a traditional yeshiva and a secular education.  He studied from 1924 to 1934 at the Rabbinical Seminary in Budapest, where he received his rabbinic ordination.  He also received a Ph. D. at the Pazmany Peter University in Budapest with a dissertation on “The Social Condition of the Jews in the Talmud.”
In 1934, he assumed the post of Chief-Rabbi of the Neolog (conservative) community in Cluj-Kolozsvar. He married the former Sarah Guns, a direct descendant of Rabbi Akiva Eger.
With the worsening political situation in Europe, a steady stream of refugees began to pass through the area and Rabbi Weinberger was instrumental in extending whatever assistance was necessary to these unfortunates.  In the spring of 1944 the head of the Kolozsvar Judenrat asked him to cross the border into Romania and travel to Bucharest to plead on behalf of his fellow Jews.  He did so at great personal risk but arrived too late because the Jews of Northern Transylvania were speedily deported to Auschwitz and murdered (including his parents).  After hair-raising adventures, he arrived in Palestine in July of 1944.  Here, he engaged in educational work in several schools. In 1948, he served in the Foreign Ministry of the new state. From 1948 to 1950 he was Immigration Officer and Cultural Attache at the Israeli legation in Budapest. There he accomplished important tasks, among which were facilitating Jewish emigration to Israel, Zionist organizational work, and helping transfer the remains of Chanah Senesh H”YD to Israel. In the mid 1950s he acceded to a request by Dr. Samuel Belkin, then President of Yeshiva University, and joined the University’s Jewish studies faculty. Here he thrived and excelled as a teacher and a scholar for almost twenty years until his retirement in 1975.
He was instrumental in the establishment of the Fettman Chair in the History of the Jews in Central Europe and the Rosenfeld Research Project on the History of the Jews in Hungary and the Habsburg Empire at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. He also played an important role in the 1990 founding and ongoing direction of an institute for Hebrew and Jewish History at the Babes-Bolyai University in Cluj-Napoca, which was named in his honor. He was the recipient of medals and honorary awards and degrees from Yeshiva University, the Eotvos Lorand University (Budapest), the Babes-Bolyai University (Cluj-Napoca), the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, the Hebrew University, and the Jewish Theological Seminary.
He published over 250 articles and 15 books. He did pioneering work in the fields of Jewish history, Hebrew literature and art. Best known among his books are, “Sefer ve-Sayif: Hofesh ha-Bituy veha-Mahshavah etsel Am Yisra’el” (1966) (English version: “Censorship and Freedom of Expression in Jewish History” [1977]), “History of the Jews in Transylvania, 1623-1944” (1994, in Romanian, Hebrew translation, 2003), “Memorial Book for the Jews of Cluj-Kolozsvar” (which he edited, 1970) and “The Rabbinical Seminary of Budapest, 1877-1977” (edited by him, 1986).
Rabbi Dr. Moshe Carmilly-Weinberger was an outstanding communal leader and a gifted pedagogue, who succeeded in inspiring and motivating his students, many of whom maintained contact with him long after their student days. He was a committed and ardent Zionist throughout his life so that it is particularly fitting that he returned to spend his last days in Israel.
May his memory be for a blessing!

Submitted by Shulamith Z. Berger, Curator of Special Collections, Yeshiva University and Zvi Erenyi, Acquisitions Librarian, Gottesman Library, Yeshiva University.


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