Max Lilien­thal: The Mak­ing of the Amer­i­can Rabbinate

Bruce L. Ruben
  • Review
By – February 6, 2012
In this absorb­ing biog­ra­phy, author Bruce Ruben incor­po­rates the research and writ­ing that has accrued over the years per­tain­ing to one of the cen­tral icons of nine­teenth cen­tu­ry Reform Judaism. Dr. Max Lilien­thal was an aca­d­e­m­i­cal­ly and rab­bini­cal­ly trained Ortho­dox rab­bi who was charged with intro­duc­ing mod­ern Hebrew into the ultra-Ortho­dox shtetlech of the Pale of Set­tle­ment. Lilien­thal tried in vain to con­vince his core­li­gion­ists of the rel­e­vance of mod­ern­iza­tion but even­tu­al­ly saw that his future lay else­where. New­ly mar­ried and eager to teach the prin­ci­ples of Judaism, he moved to New York City in 1845 as Chief Rab­bi of three Ortho­dox con­gre­ga­tions. As the bur­geon­ing Jew­ish com­mu­ni­ty moved west­ward, so did Lilien­thal, who led an active rab­binic and ped­a­gog­ic life in Cincin­nati, Ohio as a Reform rab­bi. This schol­ar­ly work should be of inter­est to col­lege and uni­ver­si­ty stu­dents and is rec­om­mend­ed for aca­d­e­m­ic library col­lec­tions. Bib­li­og­ra­phy, index.
Mor­ton Merowitz holds degrees from Yeshi­va Uni­ver­si­ty, the Drop­sie Col­lege for Hebrew and Cog­nate Learn­ing, and the State Uni­ver­si­ty of New York at Buf­fa­lo. He was involved in Jew­ish edu­ca­tion for some ten years and cur­rent­ly reviews non-fic­tion lit­er­a­ture which may be of inter­est and rel­e­vance to stu­dents and teach­ers of Jew­ish studies.

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