Leffler, William J. 1929–

views updated

Leffler, William J. 1929–

(William J. Leffler, II)


Born November 24, 1929, in New York, NY; married November 25, 1954; wife's name Alana A. (died, October 23, 1991); married October 22, 1994; wife's name Kathryn R. (a realtor), children: (first marriage) Carrie Leffler Cocker, Edith Leffler Chernack, William J. III. Ethnicity: "White." Education: Dartmouth College, M.A., 1951; Hebrew Union College, M.H.L., 1959. Religion: Jewish. Hobbies and other interests: Libraries.


Home—Kennebunkport, ME. E-mail—[email protected].


Rabbi of Jewish congregations in Concord, NH, 1960-64, and Lexington, KY, 1964-86; Moneywater Advisors, financial planner in Lexington, 1986-94, and Kennebunkport, ME, 1994—. L.T. Graves Public Library, treasurer, 1996-2002. Military service: U.S. Air Force, 1951-54; became airman first class.


Rotary International.


(With Frank J. Johnson) Jews and Mormons: Two Houses of Israel, Ktav (Hoboken, NJ), 2000.

(With Paul H. Jones) The Structure of Religion: Judaism and Christianity, University Press of America (Lanham, MD), 2006.


William J. Leffler's primary career prior to retirement was that of a Reform rabbi. In the late 1940s and early 1950s, he happened to share a room at Dartmouth College with Frank J. Johnson, who later converted to Mormonism and became a high priest in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. After fifty years of friendship, the two decided to write a book together to enlarge the understanding of followers of each religion regarding the other. The result was Jews and Mormons: Two Houses of Israel.

Jews and Mormons consists of nine chapters. Leffler and Johnson each wrote four chapters explaining the bases and history of their faith and outlining some of the similarities and differences with the other's creed. The ninth and final chapter, which was written by both men, expands on the topic of similarities between the two faiths and discusses some of the historical misunderstandings between the two groups. Some highly charged topics, including the Mormon Church's previous practice of conducting proxy baptisms for Jews who were killed in the Holocaust and the Mormons' claim to be descended from the twelve tribes of Israel, are covered.

Leffler told CA: "The Structure of Religion: Judaism and Christianity compares the two religions based on a structural comparison. The book compares many of the manifestations of the two religions (not beliefs) that occur because of the specific differences in structure, even though the basic structure is the same."



Booklist, June 1, 2000, George Cohen, review of Jews and Mormons: Two Houses of Israel, p. 1804.

Library Journal, July, 2000, David Azzolina, review of Jews and Mormons, p. 101.

Publishers Weekly, July 10, 2000, review of Jews and Mormons, p. 61.