Gaster, Moses

Gaster, Moses gäsˈtər [key], 1856–1939, Romanian Jewish scholar and writer, b. Bucharest. Expelled (1885) from Romania for championing the Jewish cause, he went to England and was lecturer at Oxford (1886–91), principal of Judith Montefiore College (1890–96), and chief rabbi of the Sephardic communities in England (1887–1919). He was active in the Zionist movement. Among his works on theological, historical, and literary subjects are History of Rumanian Popular Literature (1883) and a new edition of the Sephardic prayer book (5 vol., 1901–6). He was also a noted folklorist; a selection of his essays appeared in Studies and Texts in Folklore, Magic, Medieval Romance (3 vol., 1925–28), which covered many other subjects with which he was concerned. His son Theodor Herzl Gaster, 1906–92, b. London, went to the United States and taught at Columbia, among other educational institutions. His works concerning Judaism, comparative religion, and folklore include Passover: Its History and Traditions (1949), Purim and Hanukkah in Custom and Tradition (1950), Thespis: Ritual, Myth, and Drama in the Ancient Near East (1950), Holy and Profane: Evolution of Jewish Folkways (1955), and Myth, Legend, and Custom in the Old Testament (1969).

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