In doing genealogical research I found records for family members from Lithuania whose profession was listed as "Rabbi Elector".

What was this profession?

Was it a legitimate part of Judaism, or just "made up" to satisfy the authorities at the time?

  • 2
    This seems more appropriate for history.stackexchange.com or perhaps genealogy.stackexchange.com.
    – mevaqesh
    Feb 22 '17 at 20:27
  • What language were these records in?
    – mevaqesh
    Feb 22 '17 at 20:28
  • @mevaqesh: I was seeing them in translation, so English. Original must have been Lithuanian. And I considered another StackExchange, yet this seems so relevant here....
    – Ask613
    Feb 22 '17 at 20:56
  • It is perhaps borderline in topic. "Questions about the Hebrew language or about history or news of the Jewish people, Jewish individuals, or the State of Israel, except as related to Judaism, are off-topic."
    – mevaqesh
    Feb 22 '17 at 21:10
  • 1
    Related: mindspring.com/~peggyf/pusalotas/html/rabbi_electors.html. I am getting the impression from some googling that this was a rabbis recognised by the government. He had to speak Russian, and / or have other characteristics.
    – mevaqesh
    Feb 22 '17 at 21:19

According to this message on JewishGen, a state rabbi was a requirement in Russia. To hold the position, candidates had to known Russian. The state rabbi or "Kazeny Ravin" in Russian had bureaucratic duties:

"he had to register births, marriages and deaths, keep these vital registers and issue birth, death and marriage certificates."

Each town with a Jewish population had to elect a state rabbi. The people who participated in these elections were called Rabbi's Electors. These electors were comprised of the heads of the households in the town along with the board of directors of the local shul (see here, pg. 181, n. 195).

Note: If I'm not mistaken, Rabbi Prof. Shnayer Leiman once said that Rabbi Yudel Rosenberg, author of the famous (or infamous?) Nifla'ot Hamaharal (the main source for the myth of the Maharal's golem) had at some point in his life studied Russian so he could be elected as a state rabbi.

  • 1
    In Hungary there was a similar position: the "bookkeeper" rabbi, who managed the registers. Usually they got a decent allowance from the state, so it was a sought after position. Nov 21 '21 at 17:46
  • @Kazibácsi, well, you know what they say about Jews and money... :P
    – Harel13
    Nov 21 '21 at 18:29

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