The Voting Rabbi: Tinted Toes, Temple, and The Times

In my last blog, “The Story of the Voting Rabbi,” I wondered who Rabbi Nathan Wolf was, that lone voter in New York’s 40th Precinct of the Tenth Assembly District in November 1934. Who was this man, this voter, this rabbi?

Apparently, he was a very busy citizen.

I found a blog, specifically Jen Taylor Friedman’s blog from HaSoferet.com, which spoke about Rabbi Wolf. He was quoted in the 1936 Milwaukee Journal article, “Tinted Toes Help Girls Get Higher Quality Husbands”:

The Marriage Brokers’ Association . . . reported Friday that tinted toe and fingernails are getting girls more and better husbands . . .  ”Every year there is more business,” announced Rabbi Nathan Wolf …”For example, the girls say ‘Do men like painted nails?’ I say ‘Listen, they want to marry a lady, a pretty one. So make yourself beautiful. Ruby, rose–they look nice. Color your nails if you want to. Even your toenails. It will be a surprise for him.’ . . . The association believes a girl should be beautiful, young in comparison to the man’s age, well-educated and have a dowry of some kind…

The rabbi seems to have had an open ‘round-the-clock temple, too:

He was apparently a bit creative when it came to raising a minyan: In a 1936 issue of the Jewish Floridian: “Midtown New York is being treated to the sight of a sandwich man advertising Yiskor and Kaddish services at the Temple and Centre of Times Square…The rabbi of the Temple is Dr. Nathan Wolf…” This is the Garment District in the 1930s, an area crammed full of Jewish immigrants working in garment manufacture. There were quite a lot of shuls in the area servicing the workers; I imagine that Rabbi Wolf’s “Always Open” temple was quite attractive to shift workers and so on who were trying to cram a bit of communal Judaism into their lives. Best guess is that his shul, like many others of the area, declined as the area ceased to be full of Jewish immigrants.

Moreover, in 1939, he published an encyclopedia of Jewish festivals and holidays.

And now, to return to the mid-term elections in November 1934.

The Chicago Tribune’s article (the one that started me on this research project), read thusly:

Conversely, the New York Times article reads a bit differently. The city’s cost is considerably less. The precinct number moves from the 49th to the 42nd. We see the addition of 100 spectators to the two policemen and four election officials. And we discover this is an annual event, and why he is the sole voter:


It’s difficult to discern which of the two newspaper stories are correct, and how much is embellished, based on missing information and conflicting data. That is, what is true, and what is not.

It sounds a lot like today’s news, doesn’t it?

©Susan Marie Molloy, and all works within.

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