Adler, Joseph

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ADLER, JOSEPH (1878–1938), U.S. rabbi, scholar, and educationist. Adler was born in Kletzk, Lithuania, and immigrated to America in 1909 after failing in the wood-product industry. His extensive religious education – including stints in yeshivot in Nesvizh, Minsk, Mir, Slobodka, Kovno, and Aishishok as well as rabbinical ordination – probably provided him with little preparation for the cutthroat lumber business, but served him well in the New World. His studies were not confined solely to religious subjects, as he also acquired a familiarity with Russian and Hebrew literature. After arriving in New York City, Adler served as rabbi in a succession of Orthodox synagogues. He joined the Agudat ha-Rabbonim, an organization whose membership was limited to European-trained rabbis. Adler was also active in the religious Zionist movement, directing the Downtown Keren ha-Yesod and becoming an office bearer in the Mizrachi Organization of America. Concerned with the religious laxity of many of his fellow immigrants, he became one of the organizers of the Jewish Sabbath Alliance, an initiative aimed at fostering Sabbath observance within the New York Jewish community. Similar motives most likely inspired his participation in the development of the system of Orthodox religious education. Adler was appointed in 1923 by Shraga Feivel *Mendlowitz, a pioneer of religious day school education in America, as a Talmud teacher at Yeshivah Torah ve-Da'at in Brooklyn. While the school and its later imitators maintained a traditional focus and approach to textual study, Mendlowitz sought to produce a generation of religiously educated American Jews, not train future religious functionaries. In 1931, Adler became the Talmud teacher and principal of Mesivta Tipheret Jerusalem, a yeshivah on the Lower East Side for young men who wanted to combine yeshivah studies during the daytime with evening university classes. This yeshivah was part of an expanding network of religious schools that were established in the interwar and postwar periods by a resurgent Orthodox movement. He held this position until his death.


American Jewish Year Book, 41 (1939–1940); J. Sarna, American Judaism: A History (2004); M. Sherman, Orthodox Judaism in America: A Biographical Dictionary and Sourcebook (1996); Who's Who in American Jewry (1926).

[Adam Mendelsohn (2nd ed.)]