Memory Lane: Rabbi Dovber Marton (II)
Bridging the old and the new
A name in one year
Last week we began to tell the story of Rabbi Dov Ber Marton, a child of a distinguished Hungarian family, who excelled in his Torah learning, as well as, l’havdil, his secular education. This made him a prime vehicle through which to influence a fledgling Jewish community in America.
His talents were immediately recognized by the Jews of New York, and within a short time, he was appointed as the Rav of Congregation Nachlas Tzvi Linas Hatzedek Bnei Menashe, which was located at 283 East 4th Street, on the Lower East Side of New York.
When Shaarei Zedek of Sea Gate Sisterhood (West 23rd Street and Mermaid Avenue) needed a new Rav, Rabbi Marton was chosen from among 30 candidates. His installation, in the spring of 1935, was attended by 1,500 people—including public officials, and the Czechoslovakian ambassador who said, “We are proud of you and your career, I extend to you in the name of the Republic hearty greetings.”
The young rabbi’s impact was immediate. Within a short time, the ranks of Shaarei Tzedek’s Talmud Torah swelled from 150 children to an astounding 450 (!). There are people around today who retain fond memories from their time there. In later years, Rabbi Yehuda Galinsky, and Mayer his son Rabbi Mallen Galinsky, z”l, stood at the helm of this congregation and Talmud Torah.
He also found ways to engage the youth in the activities and social life at the Shul.
Marriage in Boro Park
Harry Silverstein was a wealthy man from Boro Park, who was one of the founding members of the Shomrei Shabbos shul—which says a lot about the man; to be a part of an effort to go against the tide of chilul Shabbos which was so rampant back then.
Der Ortodoks reports on in late winter of 1937: “On Sunday, the 28th of February, found Shaarei Tzedek Sea Gate Sisterhood and Talmud Torah filled with 3000 important people of New York. They were gathered for the engagement of their spiritual leader, Rabbi Dov Marton, and Miss Sylvia Silverstein, the daughter of Mr. Harry (Aharon Tzvi) Silverstein of Boro Park.
“Harry belongs to the Jewish aristocracy of New York. He is known as a great askan and doer on behalf of the klal in many areas. One of the most prominent and well-known Boro Park balebatim, he is the president of the Chevra Shomrei Shabbos. His oldest son in law is Joel Margareten, the proprietor of the famed Horowitz-Margareten Matzoh Bakery.
On May 23, the wedding took place at Menorah Masonic Temple in Boro Park. Many important people attended, and yet more sent their good wishes by telegram—such as the Pressburger Rav and other Rabbanim from Europe, and l’havdil, Mayor La Guardia, and President Roosevelt. At 3 o’clock in the morning the wedding concluded with a mitzvah tantz.
It is unclear whether his marriage to a daughter of Boro Park contributed to next stage of his life—the reason that we are speaking of him today—his appointment as the full time Rav of Anshei Sfard of Boro Park.
In Elul of the year 1941, he writes in a letter to his former congregants in Sea Gate: “After being your faithful Rabbi for more than six years, the Almighty has privileged me in being called to the post of one of the most prestigious and most dignified congregations, the First S’frardishe Congregation of Boro Park.
“I love and admire the people of Coney Island, but in assuming my new duties I must necessarily bid you farewell. I want to assure you however, that although I am leaving your community, my heart and friendship still remains with those noble and fine members of Coney Island, who for the years I spent with you have been a source of inspiration and guidance, and whose friendship I will always cherish.”
To be continued…
All photos credit of Yeshiva University Archives; Rabbi Bernard Marton papers.