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The Rabbi Samuel Mendelsohn Manuscripts Collection

Identifier: SC-MS-058

Scope and Contents

This collection contains two hundred and fourteen sermons, lectures, essays and several letters written by Dr. Mendelsohn.


  • 1871-1969


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research use.

Copyright Statement

Copyright retained by the authors of items in these papers, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.

Biographical Note

Samuel Mendelsohn (1850-1922) rabbi, author, and Jewish scholar was born in Shillelen, Kovono, Russia on March 31, 1850 to Fiewel and Jetta M. Mendelsohn. He was educated at the rabbinical college in Wilna, the rabbinic school in Berlin and graduated from Maimonides College, Philadelphia, PA in 1873. In 1883 he received the honorary doctor of laws degree from the University of North Carolina.

His first rabbinic post was the Hebrew Congregation Beth-El in Norfolk, Virginia, where he served from 1873 to 1876. One of his teachers, Dr. Marcus Jastrow (1829-1903), influenced him to come to Wilmington to lead the fledgling congregation, Mishcan Yisrael on February 29, 1876. Mishcan Yisrael, later Temple of Israel, is the oldest Jewish congregation in the state. Dr. Mendelsohn served the congregation and the community for forty-seven years.

A prolific author and recognized Jewish scholar, Mendelsohn published several pamphlets and a large number of articles on subjects of general Jewish interest and Talmudical research. His works have appeared in Ha-zofeh, Jewish Messenger, Jewish Record, South Atlantic Magazine, American Israelite, Revue Des Etudes Juives, and Open Court. He is best known among Jewish scholars for three works, The Criminal Jurisprudence of the Ancient Hebrews; compiled from the Talmud and other Rabbinical writings, and compared with Roman and English penal jurisprudence (1891), his translation of the biblical book of Haggai, and an index of biblical citations for Jastrow’s A Dictionary of the Tragumin, the Talmud Babli, and Yerushalmi, and the Midraschic Literature (1903). Dr. Mendelsohn was also a collaborator in the completion of the Jewish Encyclopedia.

Rabbi Mendelsohn was very active in fraternal and charitable organizations. He was a member of the Cornelius Harnett Council, Royal Arcanum and served as secretary for the group for 35 years; grand chaplain of the Grand Lodge of North Carolina; Odd Fellows; Fraternal Mystic Circle; and the North State Lodge, Independent Order of B’nai B’rith; Director, Associated Charities of Wilmington; and supreme president of U. S. Benevolent Fraternity.

In June, 1922 Mendelsohn was elected rabbi emeritus of Temple of Israel due to failing health. Hailed as the Dean of the Wilmington Clergy, Rabbi Medndelson died on September 30, 1922.

Note written by Lana Donaldson Taylor


1850 March 30
Mendelsohn born in Shillelen, province of Kovono, Russia to Fiewel and Jetta M. Mendelsohn.
1872 November 21
Mishkan Yisrael founded in Wilmington, NC.
Mendelsohn graduated from Maimonides College, Philadelphia, PA.
Mendelsohn served as the rabbi for Congregation Beth el, Norfolk VA.
1875 March
Ground breaking for Temple of Israel, Wilmington, NC.
1875 June 15
Cornerstone laid for Temple of Israel.
Mendelsohn served as rabbi for Temple of Israel, Wilmington NC.
1876 May 12
Temple of Israel dedicated.
1878 June 9
Temple of Israel affiliated with the Union of American Hebrew Congregations.
1879 May 11
Mendelsohn married Esther Jastrow, niece of his mentor, Dr. Marcus Jastrow, in Wilmington, NC.
1880 December 8
Dr. Charles Jastrow Mendelsohn (1880-1939), noted author and cryptographer, born to Samuel and Esther.
Mendelsohn receives an honorary degree of doctor of law from the University of North Carolina.
The Criminal Jurisprudence of the Ancient Hebrews, published by M. Curlander, Baltimore, MD, one of Mendelsohn’s best known scholarly works.
Mendelsohn compiled the Index of Scriptural Citations for Dr. Marcus Jastrow’s (1829-1903) A Dictionary of the Targumin, the Talmud Babli, and Yerushalmi, and the Midraschic Literature.
Published Die Funkition der Rulsadern und der Kreislauf des Blutes in altrabbinicher Literature, Publisher G. Fischer.
1922 June
Elected Rabbi Emeritus, Temple of Israel, due to failing health.
1922 September 22
Rabbi Samuel Mendelsohn died in Wilmington, NC


1.67 Linear Feet (Contains 4 document boxes)



Acquisition Information

This collection was donated by the Museum of World Cultures and the Temple of Israel in 1989.

Digital Access

Portions of this collection have been digitized and/or are born-digital. For access to these digital materials, please browse the finding aid via the "Collection Organization" tab and select an individual file or item to see if it contains a linked digital record.

Processing Information

This collection was originally processed by Lana Donaldson Taylor in 1990. In 2015, this collection was rehoused with current archival standard materials by Maya Rodgers.

Rabbi Samuel Mendelsohn Manuscripts Collection
Partially Processed
Lana Donaldson Taylor
1990 April 9
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Randall Library Special Collections Repository