Local and National Leader: Adolphus Solomons (1826-1910)
Adolphus Solomons counseled local and national Jewish leaders on important issues of the day. An observant Sephardic Jew, he prayed at home, where he kept a Ner Tamid (eternal light) brought with him from New York’s Shearith Israel, the nation’s first congregation. Solomons’ bookstore supplied stationery to the House of Representatives during the Civil War.
As the Civil War got underway, Solomons played a pivotal role in convincing President Lincoln to allow Jews to become military chaplains. He served in the Washington, D.C., House of Delegates (1871) and on the Presidential Inauguration Committee for Ulysses S. Grant (1873). In 1876 he raised funds from New York financier Jacob Schiff for a synagogue building for a new congregation, Adas Israel. In 1881, he helped Clara Barton found the American Red Cross.
Solomons later returned to New York to administer the Baron de Hirsch Fund, an agency providing Jewish immigrants with vocational training and assistance.
We passed a pleasant Sabbath with Mr. Adolphus Solomons whose place of business [on] Pennsylvania Avenue is the resort of men of letters…he is one of the very few Israelites there who observe the Sabbath.
The Jewish Messenger, January 24, 1862