Adler, Morris

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ADLER, MORRIS (1906–1966), U.S. Conservative rabbi. Adler, son of a rabbi, was born in Slutzk, Russia, and was brought to the U.S. in 1913. After serving in Buffalo, n.y., Rabbi Adler accepted the pulpit of Shaare Zedek in Detroit, Mich. (1938), where, except for his chaplaincy (1943–46), he remained for the rest of his life. Under Rabbi Adler's leadership the congregation grew into one of the largest in the world, and he was considered by many to be the leading spokesman of the Detroit Jewish community. He was especially devoted to the field of adult Jewish education, on which he lectured and wrote extensively. A friend of labor leader Walter Reuther, Rabbi Adler served as chairman of the Public Review Board of the United Auto Workers (1957–66) and was a member of the Michigan Fair Election Practices Commission and the Labor-Management Citizens' Committee. He was a member of the Governor's Commission on Higher Education (1963–66). Positions he held in the Jewish world included chairmanship of the B'nai B'rith Adult Jewish Education Commission (1963–66) and various offices in the Rabbinical Assembly. He wrote Great Passages from the Torah (1947) for adult Jewish study, and World of the Talmud (1958). He also edited the Jewish Heritage Reader (with Lily Edelman, 1965).

He was killed during Sabbath services in his synagogue by a mentally ill youth. The day of his funeral was declared by Governor George Romney a day of mourning in the state of Michigan. A collection of his writings, compiled by his widow Goldie Adler and Lily Edelman, May I Have a Word With You, appeared in 1967. A second posthumous volume, The Voice Still Speaks: Message of Torah for Contemporary Man (ed. Jacob Chinitz), appeared in 1969.

[Alvin Kass]