Rabbi Murad Maslaton, A Great Leader
Rabbi Murad Maslaton was the beloved rabbi for the Ahi
Ezer community, in Brooklyn, New York and Damascus, Syria. Born in
1876 in Damascus to Joseph and Rebecca Maslaton, Murad was one of seven
children, four boys and three girls. His brother Jacob Tarab Maslaton
was the Chief Rabbi of Damascus and Beirut.
Maslaton taught Hebrew and Arabic for two decades to Jewish boys and
girls at the French High School "Alliance Israelite." While
teaching, he also served as cantor for the Hebrat Adi Ezer
Congregation in Damascus, where his brother Jacob was the spiritual
By 1920 many Syrian Jews were leaving, or
had left, Damascus for America and the promise of a better future. In
the years following World War I, many more left Syria and settled in
New York's Lower East Side.
Unaccepted by their Ashkenazic brethren and unable to understand their
Yiddish and strange dialect of Hebrew, these Damascene Jews needed a spiritual leader.
Rabbi Murad Maslaton was
persuaded to come to America and lead the Hebrat Ahi Ezer Congregation
on the East Side. Under his leadership, the congregation grew and
flourished, moving to Bensonhurst into a private house on 64th Street
converted into a k'nis. By 1951, the congregation moved into a newly
constructed building complete with social hall and a magnificent
sanctuary on 71st Street.
Intent on educating the
children in the growing community, the rabbi began a Talmud Torah,
teaching from 50 to 100 children himself. He was so dedicated to
educating the children in Torah, he worked from morning until
night, winter and summer, Saturday afternoons and on Sundays as well.
to his son, Rabbi Sion Maslaton, of the Ahi Ezer Torah Center, his
father often missed meals unless his mother or one of his siblings brought food to the synagogue for him.
Murad Maslaton was kept busy learning Torah
or teaching it to others. After morning minyan, he would often discuss
commentary with those who remained. He did the same on Saturday
afternoons, as many came to hear him speak.
is also remembered for composing beautiful songs for bar mitzvahs and
weddings and other happy occasions. He wrote eulogies for the deceased
and shared in both happy and sad occasions for members of the
Many people came to him when they had
problems. The rabbi was very modest, sincere, and objective, not
favoring one side of a dispute or the other; always treating everyone
Rabbi Sion Maslaton tells this story of his
"A lot of people used to come to him with their
problems. He had a special reading for them and a lot them saw the
light. One time when my father was in Florida, a man asked him to
bless his tree because it was not bearing fruit. my father blessed
the tree and it began yielding fruit. Another time someone came and
said his son was two or three years old and couldn't talk. My father
blessed and he grew and he talks more than anyone."
On Shabbat and on holidays, Rabbi Maslaton always
insisted on sharing the meal with others, the first to invite visitors
or strangers who visited the shul. His wife welcomed visitors with open
arms, preparing enough tasty food for a king.
Rabbi Murad Maslaton also wrote many works, including an
interpretation of the Holy Bible with his brother Jacob.
The esteemed and dignified rabbi served Ahi Ezer
Congregation for 40 years, passing on in 1959. He is remembered by the
entire Ahi Ezer community and his seven children, three boys and four
Roffé is a career journalist and holds a masters in Jewish
Studies. She has researched numerous genealogies including the Kassin
and Labaton rabbinic dynasties and is considered an expert in Aleppan
Jewry. She is a member of Brooklyn's Syrian Jewish community and the
Jewish Genealogical Society, Inc. of New York. She may be contacted by