Max Yospe - A Jewish Mormon Pioneer
By Clark Yospe 2015
My father was born in Chicago on July 25, 1924 to Isadore and Esther Mary Goldman Yospe. Both his parents were Jewish immigrants from Pinsk Russia [Belarus; = white Russia]. Isadore came to the United States prior to WW! to earn enough to send for his wife and young son. The war separated him from his family and communications broke down leaving him to wonder if they had survived. Prior to the United States entering into the war he earned their passage, only to have it stolen by those who said they would get it to the proper people so his family could join him.
The little town of Pinsk no longer exists. It is very close to Minsk. My grandfather came when they tried to draft him into the Russian Army. My grandmother, as I said, was left behind. We have a history of her living out a winter in the outdoors with my uncle, who was a small baby. She covered him with her hair to keep him warm and in the morning had to hack her hair out of the frozen ground. She sometimes existed stealing food from the Russian army. I am sure we all have no idea what these people went through.
After the war ended he discovered that his family was still alive and where they were, only by visiting a friend who had information from someone who had seen them and who had received a letter from them looking for Isadore and not knowing where he was.
Max was 12 years younger than his older brother and during his high school years the family moved out to Los Angles where he completed his senior year. Joining his brother during World War Two he was inducted into the Army and eventually stationed with the military police at Tooele Army Depot which is close to the little town of Tooele Utah.
Serving as a MP he also help as a guard for the German and Italian POWs that were also kept on base. His fluent training in Yiddish helped him communicate with many of the German prisoners.
Many years later Max's grandson, Jordan Yospe was serving a mission in Italy. While there he met an old Italian that recognized the name Yospe on Jordan's name badge. He asked Jordan if he was related to a guard that was serving at a little town in Utah. He told him how kind and understanding Max was.
While in Tooele, Max was introduced to the LDS Church and met many wonderful people there. One happened to be a beautiful usher in the local theater, Elaine Gillespie. The first time he set eyes on her he approached her in the theater and told her "I am going to marry you". Elaine thought he was crazy. At the time she was even engaged to a soldier who was stationed overseas. Elaine and he became friends and she introduced Max to the Mormon Church and gave him a copy of the Book of Mormon. He read it, prayed about it and received a burning testimony that it was true. That testimony grew
Max married Elaine and one year later they were sealed in the Salt Lake Temple. Max broke the news of his baptism to his parents, who disowned him. He continued to write to them and after several years received a letter from his father that said "blood is thicker than water, we love you sown." Esther Mary Goldman
Max left the Army only to take a job on the Tooele police force where he served for 4 1/2 years. He then transferred to the Salt Lake Police Force in 1951 finally retiring in 1983 only to continue serving as the Official police chaplain, a position he had at retirement. He left the Force as chaplain in 2002 with over 50 years of service.
When Max and Elaine moved to Salt Lake in 1951 they purchased a little new home in Glendale, a suburb of Salt Lake City. They lived there for a little over 18 years. During that time Max was called to serve as Bishop to the Cannon 4th Ward.
It was an interesting call since the Yospe family lived in the Cannon 8th Ward. The boundaries were right down the street on which they lived, Glenrose Drive. Accepting that calling is never easy, especially when people in the 4th Ward were wondering why someone had to be called to preside over them that was not even a member of their Ward.
Max was told that he was the first Jewish bishop called in the Latter Days. He held that title the rest of his life and no one every questioned the truth of that title. Max served as Bishop for over eight years. The members of the Ward soon loved their Jewish Bishop and he stayed close to so many that he served. He was often asked to speak in church, conduct someone's funeral or attend their children's weddings even after they moved from the area.
Max passed away in the Veteran's Nursing Home in Salt Lake at the age of 82 with complications from Alzheimer's disease. His funeral was attended by hundreds whom his life had touched. He was buried with full police honors and almost everyone of the Police Force that wasn't on duty was in attendance.
Max and Elaine had three children. Clark Yospe, Esther Lorraine Starkie, Sue Ann Ricks.