Avraham Samuel Soltes

Rabbi Avraham Soltes (1917-1983) was a Reform Jewish rabbi, the Jewish chaplain at the United States Military Academy in West Point, an author and a leading figure in Jewish cultural affairs. He was born in New York City. He graduated from the City College of New York in 1937 and received a master's degree from Columbia University in 1938. After being ordained in 1942 by the Jewish Institute of Religion (now HUC-JIR), he served as chaplain at Cornell and McGill Universities and then was assistant rabbi at Congregation Rodeph Sholom in Manhattan from 1946 to 1949. He subsequently served as rabbi at Temple Sharey Tefilo in East Orange and Temple Emanuel in Great Neck. He began his service at West Point as a voluntary chaplain in 1963 and was made a permanent member of the staff in 1981. His interests also took him into commerce, and from 1969 to 1974, he was vice president for community affairs of the Glen Alden Corporation, which in 1972 was merged into the Rapid America Corporation. From 1974 to 1977, he was assistant to the president of Tel Aviv University. He was credited with a key role in the establishment of the New York medical division at the university. In 1981, Rabbi Soltes received the Jabotinsky Award from Prime Minister Menachim Begin for his service to Israel. From 1977 until his death Rabbi Soltes had been the spiritual leader of Congregation Beth Chavairuth of Bergen County, in Tenafly, N.J. He participated in many cultural and educational activities that interpreted Jewish art, music and literature. He was chairman of the National Jewish Music Council from 1963 to 1969 and a member of the board of the National Jewish Book Council from 1967 to 1972. Rabbi Soltes, a commentator on Jewish music for American listeners, was the host of a radio program, ''The Music of Israel,'' on WQXR from 1974-1983. Among his writings were Palestine in Poetry and Song of the Jewish Diaspora (Master's thesis HUC-JIR 1942) and Off The Willows: The Rebirth of Modern Jewish Music (1970).