Samuel Hirsch was an orthodox rabbi and educator who was the son of another San Francisco rabbi, Mayer Hirsch. Mayer Hirsch, leader of San Francisco’s congregation Anshe Sfard, was born in Lithuania and ordained a rabbi there when he was eighteen years old. After he immigrated to the United States, he first worked as a rabbi in Denver and then, when he was 33 years old, he came to San Francisco. Besides being a rabbi at the city’s Anshe Sfard, he also served as a rabbi at congregations B’nai David and Keneseth Israel. In addition, he became recognized as a leading authority in ancient Hebrew literature and Jewish philosophy. He and his wife, Sofie Rodinsky, who died in March 1960, had five sons and four daughters: Samuel, Morris, Max, Joe, Benjamin, Esther Hirsch, Rose Hirsch Goodstein, Rebecca Hirsch Schwartz, and Ida Hirsch Nasatir. Mayer Hirsch died August 3, 1946, at the age of 72 years. During World War II, President Roosevelt appointed Mayer’s oldest son, Samuel (July 31, 1902 – March 29, 1985), as a military chaplain for the combined military services throughout the western United States. During and after World War II, he also met many Jewish refugees at the San Francisco docks, provided their entry bonds, and helped them find shelter and food. As a vice-president of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (H.I.A.S.) in San Francisco, he greatly assisted the immigration of Jewish refugees to the United States, particularly those from Shanghai. Samuel, who was ordained a rabbi in private, served as a rabbi for various California synagogues, including Adath Yeshurun, in Stockton, and Chevra Thilim, in San Francisco, from 1966 to 1985. Samuel was also a member of Zionist organizations and promoted Jewish education as a member of the governing board of the Jewish Education Society; a founder of the Children’s Synagogue; and as a vice-principal and teacher at Central Hebrew School. He also worked as a rug merchant.
Collection consists of papers, photographs, and scrapbooks relating to the family of Samuel Hirsch of San Francisco. Among the papers are some of Samuel Hirsch's professional and organizational correspondence; papers, clippings and a memorial scrapbook relating to Rabbi Mayer Hirsch; some papers of Ida Hirsch Nasatir; a considerable number of photographs of the Hirsch family (including some portraits of Rabbi Hirsch and some photographs of him preparing sacramental wine during Prohibition); a few images of the Central Hebrew School; one photograph of an unidentified boxer (with the inscription, "To My Nephew Sam Hirsch"); and one oversize photograph of the first Lag B'Omer picnic of the San Francisco Hebrew Schools at Oak Cove in San Mateo (circa late 1920s). The collection also includes three scrapbooks of clippings and documents relating to the lives and accomplishments of Hirsch family members; graduation booklets of the Central Hebrew School (from 1935-1936 and 1938-1942); an 18th anniversary booklet from the Children's Synagogue in San Francisco; Congregation Chevra Thilim dedication and anniversary booklets (1946 and 1962); and a telegram from Rabbi Abraham Heschel in which he (i.e., Heschel) requested assistance for a Shanghai Jewish family arriving in San Francisco (1948).