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Rabbi Avroham Yosef Ash

December 25th, 2007 · 34 Comments

Rabbi Avroham Yosef Ash

אברהם יוסף ב"ר מאיר

Founding Rabbi, Bais Hamedrash HaGadol of Norfolk Street

Date of Death: Thu. May 19, 1887 - Iyar 25 5647

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Cemetery: ,

Cemetery Details
8211 Cypress Avenue
Ridgewood, NY 11385
United States

Phone: (718) 366-3748
Fax: (718) 366-8471
Contact: Antonio Jones


Cemetery Map:


Directions to Kever: The actual kever sits on the grounds of the Machpelah Cemetery located in Ridgewood, Queens, however, access from Union Field Cemetery is recommended. Location: (From Union Field), Main Road, right on Path J past the trees into Machpelah Cemetery about fifteen feet to the right, look for candle box), See Map below.

Biographical Notes:

Photo Caption: Rav Avroham Yosef Ash

Photo Credit: Orthodox Judaism in America, Sherman

Photo Credit: New York Times

Photo Source: History of the Jews in America, Peter Wiernik, Credit: IFJCAH
Note: In the highlighted section is the name of the 12 original members of the Bais Medrash HaGadol.

Photo Caption: Malka Bracha Garfunkel, Credit: Hoopskirts and Huppas, Milton M. Gottesman
Malka Bracha’s son Baruch Mordechai (better know as BM or Benjamin Marcus) married Rav Ash’s daughter Miriam. He later went into the hoopskirt business with his father-in-law.  Sadly, Miriam passed away soon after the marriage leaving behind a daughter.

Photo Caption: Baruch Mordechai Garfunkel, d. 1911, Credit: Jacob Lehrfeld

Bio Information:
Rav Ash was from the first Eastern European style Rabbanim to organize and lead a congregation in New York City. Eventually, his fame and authority spread across the country. No Orthodox congregation in the United States would accept a shoichet (ritual slaughterer) without his certification.
Map To The Kever Of Rav Ash From Union Field Cemetery:

Rebbetzin Ash is buried further down the hill near the main road of the Machpelah Cemetery.

Photo Credit: Asher Lowy, Lakewood, NJ

Credit: Shmuel Amsel, Brooklyn, NY

Credit: Shmuel Amsel, Brooklyn, NY

Credit: Shmuel Amsel, Brooklyn, NY

Credit: Shmuel Amsel, Brooklyn, NY

Tags: New York · Pre 1900 · Queens / L.I., NY · Union Field Cemetery - Queens

34 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Grand Rebbe // May 19, 2009 at 11:59 am

    Today is his yartziet.

  • 2 Chief Rabbi // May 19, 2009 at 12:05 pm

    Was he related to Rav Meir Eisenstadt the Panim Me’irot or Rav Meir Eisenstaedter the Imre Esh? Both were know as the Maharam Ash.

  • 3 YaakovShalom // Jul 10, 2009 at 2:01 pm

    Rav Ash was the Rav who started the Beis Hamedrash Hagadol on the Lower East Side.
    His daughter Miriam married somebody named Boruch Mordechai Garfunkel. They had one child and then Miriam was niftar. Boruch Mordechai ended up remarrying somebody from Charleston South Carolina and moved to Savannah Ga. to become one of the pillars of the Community. His Great Great Grandchildren Bli Ayin Hara till this day are frum and are still pillars of the community.

  • 4 Reb Elya // Oct 26, 2009 at 7:57 pm

    I was recently at the lower East Side. The Shul doesn’t look like it’s in such good condition. I heard they’re trying to restore it.

  • 5 Shmelke Taub // Jul 15, 2010 at 3:08 pm

    Reb Elya, the shul is now a landmark, i heard that they hope to receive some gov. funding to restore it.

  • 6 Reb Elya // Jul 16, 2010 at 4:14 pm

    Yes, but I’m pretty sure you can’t go inside. I think that they are afraid of it collapsing.

  • 7 DPopper // Aug 31, 2010 at 7:46 pm

    Rabbi Ash’s son-in-law, Boruch Modechai Garfunkel married Betty Volaski from Charleston. They had nine children of which 7 survived into adulthood. Four of their children married and only three had children. Nathan and Lina Adler a brother and sister from Baltimore (immigrated from Kitzingen) married Charles and Rachel “Tapp” Garfunkel (also a brother and sister). Thus most of Boruch Mordechai’s descendants are the grandchildren and great-grandchildren of Charles and Lina Garfunkel of Savannah and Nathan and Tapp Adler from Baltimore. Almost all of their descendants are still frum and found in communities all over the country.

  • 8 Shmelke Taub // Sep 1, 2010 at 3:08 pm

    Dear DPopper, your information might be vital for me. Please email me at
    Thanks a lot.

  • 9 farshlufen // Sep 1, 2010 at 8:20 pm

    D popper, I don’t get it, how did his son in law marry …. was it a second marriage?

    P.S. are you related to the david-davidson family?

  • 10 DPopper // Sep 3, 2010 at 6:01 pm

    Yes his son-in-law, Boruch Modechai Garfunkel, did remarry Betty Volaski after the death of Rabbi Ash’s daughter. They lived in Savannah, Ga. where they raised their family. There is a book written by Milton Gottesman which was published by the American Jewish Historical Society in New York titled “Hoopskirts and Huppas – A Chronicle of the Early Years of the Garfunkel-Trager Family in America 1856-1920” which provides some details of the family history. I do not believe that I am related to the david-davidson family. I am a great-grandchild of Boruch Modechai Garfunkel.

  • 11 david j. halberstam // Jun 26, 2011 at 1:43 pm

    Are there any blood descendents alive today of Rabbi Ash?

  • 12 D Popper // Oct 25, 2011 at 8:10 am

    Check for Hannah Garfunkel born 1860. She was the daughter born to Rabbi Ash’s daughter, Miriam Ash. She married Isaac Raphael and had 6 children. I assume that there are living descendants today. I don’t know anything about Rabbi Ash’s other grandchildren.

  • 13 Farshlufen // Apr 26, 2012 at 4:36 pm

    As per this newspaper dating Thursday May 19 1887 he passed away on Sunday May 15 1887 this converts to 21 Iyar 5747, ועוד הלא כ”ה אייר תרמ”ז לא הי’ חל בשבת.

    “Rabbi Ash, who died in New York
    on Sunday, was the recognized
    (authority on the Talmud and genor- I
    ally regarded as the foremost Hebrew j
    theologian in this country.”

  • 14 Farshlufen // Apr 26, 2012 at 5:01 pm

    כנראה הטעות הוא של י.ד. אייזענשטיין והוא כתב
    May 6 1888
    and this converts to 25 Iyar 5788
    But from the NYT Article From Tuesday May 10 1887 it is clear that Eisenstein is mistaking in the year, and they wrote that the funeral was on May 9th which was 15 Iyar.

  • 15 Farshlufen // Apr 26, 2012 at 5:42 pm

  • 16 Farshlufen // May 3, 2012 at 5:53 pm

    From the NY Herald Tuesday May 10 1887

    Rabbi Abraham Joseph Ash, one of the earliest
    Settlers of Polish Jews in this country, and one of
    the most prominent in American-Jewish history, died
    yesterday at his residence, No. 54 1/2 Ludlow street
    aged sixty-six years. He was born in Senjatisch,
    Poland, came to this country thirty-six years ago,
    and became one of the most remarkable Jews the
    century has produced in this country, being esteemed
    and authority upon ritualistic and dietary
    laws both here and in Europe. Coming to this country
    thirty-six years ago with no capital or friends.
    he was compelled in order to gain a living to
    shoulder a box filled with glass panes, which
    he fitted. Into broken windows. Being always
    studious he diligently applied himself after his
    wearying day’s work of walking the streets In search
    of jobs to the Talmud and other religious books
    within his reach. When he came to this country he
    did not forget the early teaching he had received at
    the old synagogue in his native land, and almost his
    first act after his arrival was to gather a
    few of his countrymen and form a congregation
    to keep alive the ancient Jewish
    faith. Through the Kindness of a friend
    who donated $2000 they incorporated themselves
    under the name of Beth Bamedrash, locating their
    place of worship la Elm street, where Rabbi Ash
    gave his services without reward. Increasing members
    compelled them to move from place to place,
    until they at last secured the Episcopal church at the
    corner of Norfolk and Broome streets, where now a
    large and wealthy congregation worships. For
    many years no one could kill animals for food for
    the Jews in the country without a certificate from
    Rabhi Ash.
    The funeral will take place to-day at two o’clock.
    The Rev. H. P. Mendes, of the Nineteenth Street
    Synagogue, will officiate.”

  • 17 Keren Weiner // Nov 26, 2012 at 2:18 pm

    I’m attempting to translate Rabbi Ash’s cemetery stone, and unfortunately, my Hebrew is limited and I can read Hebrew with vowels. Would anyone have time to translate it? I was especially curious about the bottom line because underneath Rabbi Ash’s name it says he is the son of Meyer, but at the bottom it reads, I think, Yechiel (Yoda?) ben Sara Shleima?. As you can see, any advice would be appreciated.
    With much gratitude,
    Keren Weiner
    Pittsfield, Massachusetts

  • 18 asher // Nov 26, 2012 at 7:18 pm

    The bottom line translates to “this new marker was erected in 1994 by Yechiel Yuda ben Sara Bluma”

  • 19 Keren Weiner // Nov 28, 2012 at 7:08 pm

    Thank you. That is very helpful.

  • 20 asher // Feb 5, 2013 at 12:35 am
    Correspondence to Harav Ash z”l, from Harav Yaccov Etlinger z”l (baal Aruch L’ner) in regards to converting a church (originally a residents complex) to Synagogue – assuming this question was pertaining the Norfolk St location (probably so).

  • 21 asher lowy // Feb 8, 2015 at 10:37 pm

    Portrait of Rav Ash

  • 22 Y.A. Horovitz // Feb 15, 2015 at 2:06 pm

    The question to the Oruch Laner [who is Matir Bedocjhak] was also sent to the rov of Levuv Rav Yosef Shaul Natanson [Shoel Umeshiv 3,3, – 72] by Rav Yudel Mitelman [who was Matir because it was protestant] at that time rav Aronson from NY fought against it [see: Matei Moshe4]
    By the way the rsponsa in Binyan Zion part 1 siman 5 is also to rav Ash [see Binyan Zion Dvar Yerushalaim edition part 3 siman 92 ]

  • 23 Abraham Ash // Jun 25, 2015 at 12:19 pm

    My name is Abraham Ash and my brothers name is Joseph Ash. We are triplets the third is a girl Violet.

    It is an honor to share our name with Rav Abraham Joseph Ash

  • 24 Carlton Brooks // Sep 24, 2015 at 4:32 pm

    I am trying to connect with D Popper, please email me at

    Thank you

  • 25 Oran Zweiter // May 9, 2016 at 5:16 pm

    YA Horovitz- which Mateh Moshe are you referring to in comment 22? Is it available on Hebrewbooks?

  • 26 Motti Sofer // May 23, 2016 at 10:14 am

    The inscription says
    שהיה רב בביהמ”ד הגדול משנת תר”ך עד יומו האחרון
    This is not exactly true, or at least inaccurate. According to Eisenstein’s memoirs, Rav Asch at one point retired from his rabbinical position and ventured into business (he does not specify), as a result deficient sakary Beth HaMidrash Hagadol was paying him. He later returned to the position.

  • 27 Farshlufen // May 24, 2016 at 10:07 am

    Motti, to my knowledge Eisenshtadt’s account is also no accurate.

  • 28 ploni // May 31, 2016 at 9:56 am

    כה’ אייר תרמ”ז היה ביום ה’ בשבוע?
    The inscription on the kever says he was niftar on Shabbos 25 of Iyar?

  • 29 Ben Bee Zee // May 31, 2016 at 4:07 pm

    see discussion above, he died on
    ט”ו אייר תרמ”ז

  • 30 Motti Sofer // Jun 1, 2016 at 10:50 am

    There is are fair criticisms of Eisenstein’s accuracy, but in this case I don’t see any reason to doubt it. Eisenstien mentions this fact also in his article on the formation of Agudas Hakehilos.
    As stated explicitly on the bottom, this is not the original headston, but a replacement ca. 1995.
    In Landau’s “Rav Hakolel” there is an image of a different, badly eroded, barely legible headstone. I think it reasonable to suspect that the inscription was made up by the donor and 130 years after the fact.
    Would you think Eisenstein totally made up a story and stuck with it for decades for no apparent motive? I would find it more plausible that the replacer in 1995 made an innocent, though ignorant assumption.

  • 31 Yaakov // May 20, 2017 at 6:49 pm

    Yartzeit Tonight and Tomorrow.

  • 32 MW // Apr 30, 2018 at 2:55 am

    Sorry to have to do this, but I need to straighten out the facts regarding Rav Ash’s yahrzeit. A long time ago, I was at his grave, and carefully went over the remains of his original tombstone (I don’t know if it’s still there; I haven’t been to the grave in years). If I remember correctly, that stone indicated that he passed away on Shabbos, and it also had an unclear reference to either the 25th or the 28th of something (the way I remember, it was difficult to determine with certainty if the the 2nd letter was a “hay” or a “ches”; the stone was quite old, and it may even have been toppled over; I don’t recall for sure). The person who put up the new stone mistakenly interpreted that reference to mean the 25th of Iyar, which is simply impossible given that the 25th was not a Shabbos that year, and all the local newspapers already reported on Rav Ash’s death by the 16th of Iyar! Quite obviously, the reference on the stone was to the 28th day of the Omer, which was indeed a Shabbos that year, and was in fact 3 days before the newspaper articles reporting on his death. As to why the delay in the reporting & the funeral (which by the way, might actually have taken place on Monday the 9th, not Tuesday the 10th), I believe the original NY Times article made some mention of awaiting family members to arrive from other parts of the country (St. Louis perhaps?), which would explain everything, since they surely didn’t learn of his passing until late Motzei Shabbos or Sunday morning, and probably did not make it to New York until Monday (or perhaps Tuesday). So unless someone has a more authoritative version of events than what is evident from the newspaper articles and the old tombstone (at least the way I remember it), I think it’s safe to presume Rav Ash’s yahrzeit is actually the 13th of Iyar.

  • 33 Yaakov // May 29, 2019 at 6:21 pm

    Yartzeit Tonight!

  • 34 Yaakov // May 18, 2020 at 2:20 pm

    Yartzeit Tonight.

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