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Rabbi Tuvia (Tobias) Geffen

January 26th, 2009 · 9 Comments

Rabbi Tuvia Tobias Geffen

טוביה ב"ר יוסף

Chief Rabbi of the South

Date of Death: Tue. February 10, 1970 - Adar I 4 5730

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Cemetery:

Cemetery Details

Directions to Kever: Greenwood Cemetery in Atlanta, Georgia. Congregation Shearith Israel, Location: D 5, Section: B

Biographical Notes:

Geffen Tuvia
Photo Caption: Rav Tuvia Geffen, Credit: Jewish Currents, Accord, NY
Kosher Coke Bottle Cap
Photo Caption: Bottle cap bearing the kosher certification of Rav Tuvia Geffen, Credit: Traci Rylands, Atlanta, GA

Rav Geffen was born in 1870, in the Lithuanian city of Kaunas (Kovno). He immigrated to the United States in 1903 and became the rabbi of Congregation Ahavas Tzedek in New York City. A few years later he moved to Canton, Ohio and thereafter (1910) Atlanta, Georgia, where he served at Congregation Shearith Israel for close to 60 years. Once in Atlanta, the Rav organized the first Hebrew school which offered a daily Talmud class. A catalyst in the area of kashrus he standardized the regulation of kosher supervision in Atlanta under his central authority and was the leader of the Southern division of the Union of Orthodox Rabbis (Agudath HaRabonim). The Rav, who published many sefarim, is most remembered for his kashrus certification of Coca-Cola. Living in Atlanta near The Coca-Cola Company’s headquarters, he received many inquiries from Rabbanim across the United States whether or not Coca-Cola was kosher. He asked the company for a list of the beverage’s ingredients and was provided with the Coca-Cola formula, a closely-guarded trade secret. He found that one of the ingredients, glycerin, was produced from tallow of non-kosher beef. He convinced the company to substitute it for a vegetable-based glycerin. Satisfied that Coca-Cola’s ingredients were now all kosher, the Rav issued a response in 1935 that Coca-Cola was kosher. “With the help of God, I have been able to uncover a pragmatic solution according to which there would be no question nor any doubt concerning the ingredients of Coca Cola”, he wrote. “It is now possible for the most stringent Halachist to enjoy Coca Cola”.


Credit: Traci Rylands, Atlanta, GA

Credit: Traci Rylands, Atlanta, GA


Credit: Traci Rylands, Atlanta, GA

Tags: Atlanta, GA · Chief Rabbi · Georgia

9 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Naftali Dulin // Jan 26, 2009 at 9:22 pm

    Didn’t Rabbi Emanuel Feldman build the Jewish Community of Atlanta?

  • 2 Rabbi J Klein // Jan 26, 2009 at 9:30 pm

    He did, Rabbi Feldman came to Atlanta not long after Rav Geffen passed away. By that time, the Orthodox Jewish community, which was already on the decline towards the end of Rav Geffen’s life completely faded away. The story goes that leading up to his very first Yom Kippur in Atlanta, Rabbi Feldman thought he would not have a minyan.

  • 3 yaakov // Jan 27, 2009 at 6:39 am

    Heres some information and a pictue of the kever.
    I found this link:
    http://www.ourfamilystory.net/RabbiGeffen.html

  • 4 Zevy Fried // Jun 22, 2009 at 11:50 am

    Wow he was a Rav in America for 67 years, what happened to all his descendants? Did any of them stay in Atlanta?

  • 5 Norman L // Jun 23, 2009 at 4:57 pm

    Zevy:
    I believe he has a son (or grandson) living in Bet Shemesh.

  • 6 Gary M. // May 29, 2010 at 12:59 pm

    His son, Samuel, was rabbi of the Jewish Center of Forest Hills West in Queens, New York, for 40 years. He died March 15, 2002.

  • 7 dr. david geffen // Dec 16, 2012 at 5:59 pm

    I am one of the 18 grandchildren of
    HaRav Tuvia and Sara Hene Geffen
    3 granchildren are niftar. 6 grandchildren made aliyah and there
    are now 96 descendants in Israel.
    Professor Dov Levin of Jerusalem is
    a great nephew and a leading historian of Lithuanian Jewry. A
    great nephew of the Geffens, Bert
    Lewyn, survived in Berlin. After
    several years in DP camps, Bert
    brought to Atlanta in 1949. He and
    his wife have 5 chidren – 6 grandchildren. Marc Lewyn, Bert’s
    son, is chairman of endowment
    for Atlanta Jewish Federation.
    Rav Tuvia wrote approximately 4000 letters by hand by only on
    two known occasions kept copies.
    Family always hoping to hear about Rav Tuvia’s letters.

  • 8 Nechunya // Oct 23, 2014 at 10:20 pm

    Grave of his Rebetzin:
    http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=136453446

  • 9 Jew in Atlanta // Jul 1, 2015 at 12:44 pm

    @Rabbi J Klein, I am sorry but the information you provide is not correct. Rabbi Emanuel Feldman came to Atlanta in 1952. Rabbi Geffen was niftar in 1970. Even while Rav Geffen was still alive, frumkeit in Atlanta was on the way out (it is my understanding he was not too well at the time) and Rabbi Feldman revitalized the “dying” community.

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