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Rabbi Rafael Grossman, Strengthened Jewish Life In The South, Dies At 84

(JTA) — Rabbi Rafael Grossman, who founded and expanded Jewish institutions in the American South, has died.

Grossman died April 12 in Jerusalem. He was 84.

He served as a pulpit rabbi at Baron Hirsch Congregation, an Orthodox synagogue in Memphis, Tennessee, for nearly three decades, according to an announcement from the congregation. Grossman was the first rabbi from outside the New York City area to serve as president of the Rabbinical Council of America, the main professional association of Modern Orthodox rabbis.

He founded the first Orthodox overnight summer camp in the South, Camp Darom in Georgia, as well as the first Jewish day school in San Antonio, Texas, and a local region of NCSY, the Orthodox youth group. In addition to Memphis, he held pulpits in San Antonio, New York City and New Jersey, where he also founded a day school. He wrote two books, one on studying Torah and the other on coping with the experience of losing his eldest daughter.

Grossman also served as chairman of the Religious Zionists of America.

“Rabbi Grossman was a rabbinic giant who had influence on the local, national and international scene,” the congregational announcement said. “For 28 years, he served member families and the wider Memphis Jewish community with great honor and achievements.”

He is survived by his wife, four children and 21 grandchildren.


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