Grave 18
     

Solomon Wolfe

1780 – 1866

Here lies 
[no translation yet of central portion]
 May his soul be bound up in the bond of life eternal

פנ
איש ישר...

ארבעים שנה היה …
הקדש ר שלמה …
זלמן ו זאב הלוי נפטר ביום ד ראש חדש
שבט והלך לעולמו בגבורות שמונים
שנה ... תנצבה


IN MEMORY OF
REVD SOLOMON WOLF
DIED ON THE FIRST DAY OF SHVAT
YEAR 5626
JANUARY 17TH 1866 AGED 87 YEARS
READER OF THE HEBREW
BATH CONGREGATION FOR 50 YEARS
MAY HIS SOUL REST IN PEACE


Solomon Wolfe was born in Prussia in 1780.  We know nothing about his early life, however by 1816 he was living in Bath, when he was named as a referee for a member of the Jewish community.  

We know from his headstone the he was the Reader (priest) of the first Bath Synagogue which opened in 1821 at 19 Kingsmead Square, although he is not recorded as such until the Bath Directory of 1833. A Reader was a priest appointed by the community, rather than a Rabbi, who was appointed by the Chief Rabbi. Bath was too small to justify a Rabbi.

During the 1820s Solomon was also initiated into the Freemasons firstly in 1821 in Bath and then in 1829 into the Lodge of Rectitude in Melksham.  
In 1836, he married Phoebe Lyon, the granddaughter of Abraham Wolfe, one of the founders of the Portsmouth Synagogue.   

Solomon was 56 years old when they married - was he perhaps the son of Phoebe's grandfather Abraham? Phoebe and Solomon had two daughters, Frances born in 1837 and Hannah born 1841 in Bath. 

Solomon could not make a living on his salary as reader so he supplemented his salary by working part of  the week at his general dealers shop at 2 Lower Borough Walls, helped by Phoebe and their two daughters.

In 1841 the new purpose-designed synagogue opened in Corn Street and Solomon continued as the Reader. He also acted as schochet (ritual slaughterer), probably the mohel (ritual circumciser) and was later the secretary of marriages from 1842. 

He became a  Freemason and in 1851 a naturalised British subject at the age of 71, and lived on at his home at 43 Walcot Street (now the YMCA) until his death at age 87. His headstone records the he was Reader to the congregation for 50 years.  
Solomon’s time in Bath was not without controversy as this extract from The Jews of Bath shows: in April 1855 the Bath Journal reported that the confused state of affairs of the congregation was to be looked into and a new schochet found. In May, nine men, seven with London addresses and one each in Birmingham and Plymouth appealed in the Jewish Chronicle for subscriptions on Wolfe's behalf. Wolfe himself wrote to explain why such steps had been taken. 

The Chief Rabbi had summoned him, in view of his age, for re-examination of shechita (ritual slaughter). Before attending on Adler he had been refused further maintenance by the Bath congregation. When Adler withdrew his authorization he was left with no means apart from a weekly salary of 12s 6d (60p) as Chazzan Sheni (Reader). As a comparison, the rabbi at Bristol in 1844 was living rent free at a weekly salary of 27s 6d (£2 13p) but the newly elected wardens at Bath had a chazzan and shochet to support, and numbers being very limited could allow Wolfe no higher salary. 

This unhappy episode ended, it was reported, in an amicable settlement made by the Chief Rabbi when visiting Bath three months later.
Census records
 1841  4 Church Street, St James  Bath
Name | Age
Birth
Relationship
Occupation
Solomon Wolfe 45
Foreign parts
Head
Reader at synagogue
Phoebe Wolfe 35
Outside Somerset
Wife
Wife
Frances Wolfe 4
Somerset
Son
Unstated
 1861  43 Walcot Street  Bath
Name | Age
Birth
Relationship
Occupation
Solomon Wolfe 75
Prussia
Head
Reader
Frances Wolfe 24
Bath
Daughter
Dress maker
Associated addresses
 1840-1846  2 Lower Borough Walls  Bath
Second hand clothes shop of Solomon and Phoebe Wolfe
Phoebe Wolfe 
Solomon Wolfe 
18
Solomon Wolfe
d1866