Samuel Widom was the rabbi (usually called reverend) of Homestead Hebrew Congregation Rodef Sholom from 1906-1924. His role was rabbi-cantor-shochet-teacher, though at times he only performed a subset of these functions due to his falling prestige in the synagogue towards the end of his life. He was not the first rabbi of HHCRS, but he was by far the longest serving.
He was born in Russia in the early 1870s and married Ida Hannah in the late 1890s. He had two daughters and a son before immigrating in the 1904-5 timeframe, bringing his wife and kids over around 1908. They went on to have two more kids in Homestead who grew up there and in Pittsburgh after his death.
It seems Rabbi Widom’s wife was the sister of Harry Glick! 1 It’s unclear who arrived first — the earliest mention of Harry Glick in the Homestead records is his buying high holidays seats in September 1905, but Harry’s son, Henry, is mentioned first on 12/4/1904, and the Glicks/Glucks were a fairly early family. So, it’s possible they pushed for the Homestead congregation to take on their brother-in-law.
Born: 1871-4, Russia
Died: October 11, 1924, Homestead
- Wife: Ida Hannah Suchawolsky b. 1871, Russia. Married May 25, 1896. Immigrated in 1904/8 with children. Naturalized in 1915. Died February 2, 1943.
- 5 children: Edith, b. 1899, Russia; Esther, b. 1901, Russia; Allan (Alex), b. 1904, Russia; Harry, b. 1909, PA; Louise, b. 1913, PA.
- Parents: Harry Widom and Chiuka Greenfield
- 1904: Immigrated to the U.S.
- 1906: Started at HHCRS in August (sources: first payment to him on 8/12/1906 for “Aug. wages”; 1922 Criterion “enviable record of sixteen years continued service in Homestead”)
- 1907: Rabbi-Cantor S. Widom, 8th Av. (source: American Jewish Yearbook)
- 1908-9: Listed in Homestead’s city directory as rabbi jointly with Louis Jacobs. Living at 513 Short. (Not mentioned in 1906-7 city directory.)
- 1910-11: Listed in Homestead’s city directory as sole rabbi. Living at 513 Short.
- 1910 census (taken 4/20): Samuel Widom 37 years of age. Immigrated 1905 from Russia; alien. 546 Dickson St., Homestead. Profession: Rabbi / synagogue. Lived with wife and four children ages 1-11.
- 1/24/1913: Earliest mention of him in The Jewish Criterion (p. 11, in connection with I.O.B.B. installation ceremony) (though children are mentioned earlier). He is mentioned often afterwards, including the 1914 synagogue rededication, though I didn’t include those tidbits in this timeline.
- 1916 city directory: Rev. Samuel, rabbi Rodof Sholom Congregation, 319 E. Seventh Ave. Listed alone.
- 1918 city directory: “
- Sep. 1918 WWI draft: Samuel Widom 45 years of age (b. 1/15/1874). 319 E. Seventh Ave. Priest / Rodef Shalom Hebrew Cong.
- 1919: Cantor S. Widam (source: American Jewish Yearbook)
- 1920 census (taken 1/5): Samuel Widom 49 years of age. Immigrated 1904 from Russia; naturalized 1915. 319 Seventh Ave., Homestead. Profession: Rabbi / synagogue. Lived with wife and four children ages 7-19, none of whom worked. (Edith married June 1919 to Laurence A. Metz in the Homestead synagogue with her father & Rabbi Ashinsky officiating.)
- 1921 city directory: Rev. Samuel, rabbi Rodof Sholom Congregation. 319 E. Seventh Ave. Listed with Ida, Esther (bookkeeper), Edith, Allen (student).
- 8/7/1922: Re-elected cantor (Criterion, 8/11/1922, p. 15)
REV S. WIDOM RE-ELECTED CANTOR OF HOMESTEAD
At a meeting of the Homestead Hebrew Congregation held at the Synagogue, Sunday, August Seventh, which was attended by a record-breaking attendance, almost the entire membership being present, the Rev. S. Widom was re-elected Cantor for the congregation by a majority unprecedented in the history of the Homestead Jewish community. Rev. S. Widom has an enviable record of sixteen years continued service in Homestead and the members of the community showed their appreciation of his faithful and efficient service by turning out in a body to re-elect him for the ensuing term.
- 9/24/1924: “Rev. and Mrs. Samuel Widom, of Homestead, Pa., wish their relatives and friends a happy and prosperous New Year.” (Criterion, p. 175)
- October 11, 1924 death certificate: Age: abt 52. Died in Homestead Hospital at 3:23 AM of carbolic acid poisoning (suicide). Lived at 317 E. Seventh. Son Allan was the informant.
- 10/17/1924: Obit in Criterion, p. 29 (he was not actually the first Jewish spiritual leader of Homestead; the community had rabbis going back to 1893)
Rev. Samuel Widom, aged 52 years, former cantor of the Rodef Shalom Synagogue of Homestead, died suddenly on Saturday, October Eleventh. He was one of the first Jewish settlers in Homestead and was the first Jewish spiritual leader in that community. He was an honorary member of the Homestead Lodge I.O.B.B., a member of the Independent Order B’rith Abraham and other organizations in Homestead and Pittsburgh.
His family afterwards
9/16/1925: “Mrs. Samuel Widom and family, of Homestead, Pa., wish their relatives and friends a happy and prosperous New Year.” (Criterion, p. 161)
- 10/2/1925: “In Memorium” ad in Criterion (at right).
- 1930 census (taken 5/4): Ida (57), Allan (26 / croil (?) enginer / constrution), Harry (21), Louise (17 / bookkeeper / automobiles) at 5727 Phillips Ave.
- 1937: A list of HHCRS synagogue members lists Mrs. S. Widom as an Honorary Members (living at 6329 Alderson)
- 2/2/1943: Ida died of arteriosclerosis (other conditions: apoplexy). Was living at 6329 Alderson St. Buried next to her husband. Eventually son Harry (d. 1951) and daughter Louise (d. 1997) would be buried near them, too.
- December 1945: Allan (age 41) married Miss Jeannette Laura Weinthal and continued on in Pittsburgh (source: Pittsburgh Press).
- Harry Widom is listed on an HHCRS yahrzeit plaque (now in Beth Shalom)
From the 3/6/1921 meeting minutes: “letters of condolence to Bros. Henry Glick and Sam Glick and to Sister Widom of Harry Glick who died….to the father, brother, and sister and wife in their great loss.” Given that other records give her last name as Suchawolsky, this is vexing. Also, I thought the Glicks were Hungarian, and she is clearly Russian. ↩