Russ Maurer asked about somebody whose grave marker has the abbreviation
mem-vav-hay, for "morenu ha-rav," standing for "our teacher, the Rabbi". But
in the civil death record said he was a liquor seller, and there was no
mention of rabbi.
My answer is that we have to imagine ourselves in Europe and 100+ years ago,
not the 21st century and where we live now. Many rabbis in Europe had
occupations - a salary >from the synagogue, if there even was one at all, was
not sufficient income to live on. As for the particular occupation that a
rabbi might have had, that depended on his skills or perhaps his family's
business. (Or his wife's family's business.) If anything, Jews in Eastern
Europe were overrepresented in the liquor business, as has been mentioned
previous messages in this group.
Additionally, the particular notation mem-vav-hay on the grave marker should
not be taken literally, and was used for many learned men who were not
rabbis; to confirm he was a rabbi, there should be some additional evidence.
New York, N.Y.