Solomon Dworsky

Solomon Dworsky 11/11/1883-8/25/1955

Family- Wife: Dinah Kadish; children: Bernard, Sarah and Leon

Dworsky came to the United States in 1906, after training as a rabbi at the prestigious Mir Yeshiva in Byelorussia. He initially thought he would be a rabbi in the United States, but he decided against it when he saw a different model for the rabbi here than in Europe. So he worked for a friend in Wilmington, peddling goods. Later he owned a jewelry shop and a pawn-shop. But throughout his life he remained a pillar of the Orthodox tradition.

Dworsky obviously would work quickly when he made up his mind. He met his future wife while visiting his parents in Connecticut. He was up there for only 3 days, so he asked for her hand the first day he met her and then again on the third, his final day in the area. The last time did the trick and she accepted his marriage proposal.

The Dworskys arrived in Durham in the 1920s. Mr. "S.H.," as he was known, became very active in the Jewish community. Mostly he preferred a behind-the-scenes role, so as not to distract from the cause he wanted to push. He worked quietly to get things done, though he could be persuasive. During the Depression, the Hebrew Benevolent Society was started to help people survive the difficult times. Dworsky maintained the books. From 1937 to 1945 he served as president of Beth El Synagogue. His tenure was one of the last of the immigrant generation. He was succeeded by E. J. "Mutt" Evans, a U.S.-born Jew who served as mayor of Durham and pressed for a more contemporary version of American Judaism.

S.H. was respected for his understanding of Judaism. He spent hours discussing the Bible with customers in his pawnshop, wrote Jewish historian Leonard Rogoff. Others in the community often deferred to his knowledge. He often would study with others, and many a Jew in traveling through town would stop by to see Mr. S.H.

At home he was strictly observant, but like many other Jews, he could not afford to hire a manager to work on Shabbat. On Saturday, he would open the store, but allowed his clerks to handle transactions. He would not wrap or tear paper, or handle money.

Dworsky was a fervent Zionist and served on the national board of Mizrachi, a religious Zionist organization. His wife, Dinah, organized a women's chapter of Mizrachi in 1937.