Ben-Zion Bokser

Ben Zion-Bokser was born in Lubomi, Poland, and emigrated to the United States at the age of 13 in 1920. Bokser heard Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook speak in New York in 1924 and became an avid student and great proponent of his teachings. Bokser attended City College of New York (BA, 1928) and Rabbi Isaac Elhanan Theological Seminary (Yeshiva University), followed by the Jewish Theological Seminary of America (ordained, 1931) and Columbia University (PhD, 1935). He taught for many years as an Adjunct Professor of Political Science, Queens College, City University of New York. His first pulpit was Congregation Beth Israel in Vancouver. He served as the rabbi of Forest Hills Jewish Center in Queens, New York starting in 1933 and remained in that position for the balance of his career, more than fifty years. He served a two-year period as a United States Army chaplain during World War Two, stationed at Camp Miles Standish in Massachusetts. During WWII, he organized aid for Jewish soldiers. Bokser was an advocate of social justice, taking a position in favor of the construction of a housing project for the poor in the middle class community of Forest Hills. He fought against the death penalty in NY state.