De Sola, Alexander Abraham

Alexander Abraham De Sola, clergyman, professor, author, publisher (b at London, Eng 18 Sept 1825; d at New York, NY 5 June 1882). During his ministry to Montréal's Sephardic Jewish Congregation, Shearith Israel (1847-82), De Sola organized its educational, benevolent and fraternal life; taught Hebrew, rabbinical literature, oriental literature, Spanish and philology at McGill; and played an active part in the city's literary and scientific life.

A prolific author, editor and translator, and concerned chiefly with the contemporary debate on religion and science, De Sola's own writings included studies on Jewish history, cosmography and medicine. In 1858 McGill made him an honorary doctor of laws, the first Jewish minister to receive this honour in England or North America; in 1872 De Sola became the first British subject to open the US House of Representatives with prayer, a privilege that brought him wide acclaim.