||Broadside announcing a gathering in honor of the Maimonides' 800th anniversary to be held on May 5, 1935 in the Blue Hill Avenue Shul, Roxbury. The assembly was to be addressed by R. Joseph Dov Soloveitchik with a performance by the New England Cantors Association.
R. Joseph Dov Soloveitchik (1903-93), U.S. talmudic scholar and religious philosopher, and scion of a preeminent Lithuanian rabbinical family. Soloveitchik was born in Pruzhan, Poland where his maternal grandfather, Elijah Feinstein, was the rabbi. Soloveitchik spent his early years in Hasloviz, Belorussia, where his father, Moses, served as rabbi. Until his early twenties, Soloveitchik devoted himself almost exclusively to the study of Talmud and halakhah. Under his father's tutelage, he mastered his grandfather's, R. Hayyim Soloveichik, method of talmudic study, with its insistence on incisive analysis, exact classification, critical independence, and emphasis on Maimonides' Mishneh Torah. In his late teens Soloveitchik received the equivalent of a high school education from private tutors, and at the age of 22 entered the University of Berlin. He majored in philosophy and was attracted to the neo-Kantian school. In 1931 he received his doctorate for his dissertation on Hermann Cohen's epistemology and metaphysics. That same year he married Tonya Lewit (d. 1967), herself the recipient of a doctorate in education from Jena University, who ably assisted him in all his endeavors. In 1932 they emigrated to the United States. A few months after his arrival, Soloveitchik became rabbi of the Orthodox Jewish community of Boston, the city which remained his home. He founded the first Jewish day school in New England, the Maimonides School, and also conducted postgraduate talmudic classes for young scholars who gathered around him. With the influx of European yeshivah students during the late 1930s, this advanced talmudic institute was organized on a more formal basis as the Hekhal Rabenu Hayim Halevi and Yeshivath Torath Israel. However, this new school was disbanded in 1941 when Soloveitchik succeeded his father as professor of Talmud at the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary of Yeshiva University. For many years he also lectured at the university's Bernard Revel Graduate School, where he served as professor of Jewish philosophy. In these positions Soloveitchik became the spiritual mentor of the majority of the American-trained Orthodox rabbis, and for decades inspired students to follow his teachings. From 1952 Soloveitchik also exerted a decisive influence on Orthodoxy in his capacity as chairman of the Halakhah Commission of the Rabbinical Council of America. He also identified himself with the Religious Zionists of America (Mizrachi), and was the organization's honorary president since 1946.