Bernard C. Ehrenreich, 1876-1955

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Rabbi Bernard Calonius Ehrenreich (1876-1955)

A rabbi and scholar, Bernard Calonius Ehrenreich was born in Kis Szeben, Hungary on June 11, 1876 to an orthodox family. At the age of three Bernard, along with two other siblings, immigrated to the United States.

Educated as a child in the public school system, Ehrenreich had a flair for learning and a desire to continue his education. In 1900, he received both a bachelor's degree in philosophy from New York University as well as a rabbinical degree from the Jewish Theological Seminary . Known as an organizer throughout his years as a young scholar, Ehrenreich helped found the first Jewish college fraternity, Zeta Beta Tau (Zion Bemispat Tipadeh) in 1898. The fraternity served as a forum for the exchange of ideas and information and was committed to Zionist causes.

His first pulpit, in 1900, was in Atlantic City, New Jersey, at Congregation Beth Israel. Ehrenreich stayed there a year before moving on to Congregation Adath Jeshurun in Pennsylvania. He continued serving his congregations while furthering his education at the University of Pennsylvania. In 1902, he married Irma Bock, and together they had two children, Louis Sigmund and Rosemarie.

In 1906 Rabbi Ehrenreich took the pulpit of Congregation Kahl Montgomery in Montgomery, Alabama . Zionism and progressivism pervaded his thoughts and he performed his work with a keen interest and optimism.

Already known for his ability to bring together people, Rabbi Ehrenreich led the community in a wide range of activities. Among the organizations he was involved in were the Federation of American Zionists, Jewish Welfare Board, Montgomery Chamber of Commerce, Graduate Menorah Society and American Jewish Congress .

Although his civic duty and link to the community were prevalent in his many activities he never relinquished his commitment to the individual. His interaction with the soldiers of Camp Sheridan was a cornerstone in his life. The dedication and love that he gave to hundreds of boys in the camp is readily seen in the correspondence contained within the collection. These boys also helped Ehrenreich realize a much earlier dream, and he started Camp Kawaga in Wisconsin. This camp, started in 1915, became a summer camp for boys to enrich their lives and awaken their minds.

Rabbi Ehrenreich spent his life working toward the betterment of others. He strived for the ability to join people together and acknowledged the importance of the individual. Echoing throughout his sermons and teachings are messages of Zionism and reform. The people that Ehrenreich influenced is incalculable and when he died on March 11, 1955, he died a successful man having accomplished on one lifetime what many only dream.


Data was compiled from archival documents in the Papers of Rabbi Bernard C. Ehrenreich; Who's Who in American Jewry (1980) ; Jews of the South by S. Proctor, L. Schmier and M. Stern (pp. 45-63).

  • June 11, 1876: Born in Kis Szeben, Hungary, son of Henry Reuben and Hannah Ehrenreich
  • 1879: Immigrated to the United States
  • 1898: Founded Zeta Beta Tau (American Jewish Fraternal Organization)
  • 1900: Received a Bachelor's degree in Philosophy from New York University
  • Received a Rabbinical degree from Jewish Theological Seminary
  • 1900 - 1901 : Rabbi of Congregation Beth Israel, Atlantic City, NJ
  • 1901 - 1906 : Rabbi of Congregation Adath Jeshurun, Philadelphia, PA
  • 1902: Married Irma Bock
  • 1904: Louis Sigmund (son) is born
  • 1906: Rosemarie (daughter) is born
  • 1906 - 1921 : Rabbi of Congregation Kahl Montgomery, Montgomery, AL
  • 1915: Camp Kawaga opens
  • 1915 - 1951 : Director of Camp Kawaga
  • 1917: Elected to the American Jewish Congress
  • March 11, 1955: Died

Additional Offices/Honors/Organizations

Central Conference of American Rabbis. Member. Federation of American Zionist Federation. Recording Secretary. Graduate Menorah Society. Founder. International Order of B'nai B'rith. Member. Israeli Bond Drive, Montgomery, Alabama. Chair. Jewish Chautauqua Society. Member. Jewish Welfare Board, Camp Sheridan, Montgomery, AL. Welfare Worker (World War I). Masons. Member. Montgomery Chamber of Commerce. Vice-Chair. Romanian Anti-Semitism. Official Representative protesting at a convocation.

From the guide to the Bernard C. Ehrenreich Papers, undated, 1871-1971, (American Jewish Historical Society)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Bernard C. Ehrenreich Papers, undated, 1871-1971 American Jewish Historical Society
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Ehrenreich, Irma Bock person
associatedWith Federation of American Zionist corporateBody
associatedWith Intercollegiate Menorah Association corporateBody
associatedWith Kaplan, Mordecai M., 1881- person
associatedWith Obermayer, Leon J. person
associatedWith Wise, Stephen Samuel, 1874-1949 person
associatedWith Zeta Beta Tau Fraternity corporateBody
Place Name Admin Code Country
Montgomery (Ala.)
Stockton (Calif.)


Birth 1876

Death 1955

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