Born in Hungary in 1887, Isidore Kahan embarked on a successful rabbinic career, eventually taking a position as rabbi of Gorizia, Italy. His subsequent peregrinations reflect the rapidly changing fate of Italian Jewry between the world wars, as Ty Alhadeff writes:
In December 1928, the governor [of the isle of Rhodes, then under Italian rule], Mario Lago, established the Collegio Rabbinico. Mussolini personally intervened to ensure that funds [originally] directed to the [rabbinic] seminary in Rome went to Rhodes in order to spread Italianità, Italian culture, to the Italian colonies—even among Jews. Within months, Rabbi Kahan was recruited by the Italian government to be the administrator and head teacher of the Rhodes [rabbinic] seminary. . . .
The school educated approximately 25 to 30 students who came from Izmir, Aleppo, Beirut, Sarajevo, Cairo, and Ethiopia to study in this modern yeshiva. . . .
Kahan served in the Rhodes seminary until 1933, when he was hired as a pulpit rabbi in Rome, a position he held until 1939. However, as the tide in Europe turned, Kahan worked tirelessly to save his family from impending doom.
With the help of American Jewish contacts, Kahan fled to Seattle, where he became the rabbi of a Rhodesli synagogue.