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Baron, Joseph Louis


BARON, JOSEPH LOUIS (1894–1960), U.S. Reform rabbi and author. Baron was born in Vilna, Poland (then Lithuania), and immigrated with his family at the age of 13 to the United States, where they settled in New York City. He attended the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Yeshiva and Columbia University, where he earned his B.A. (1914) and M.A. (1916). While at Columbia, he also studied at the Jewish Theological Seminary, helped found the Zionist youth movement *Young Judaea (1910), served on the staff of the New York Board of Education, and contributed articles to several New York newspapers and magazines. In 1920, Baron was ordained at *Hebrew Union College, having interrupted his rabbinical studies to serve Temple Sholom of Chicago when the congregation's rabbi entered the U.S. Army Chaplaincy during World War i. He had also attended the University of Cincinnati, edited the Hebrew Union College Monthly, and organized both the Young Judaea Council of Cincinnati and the Jewish Center of Norwood, Ohio. He earned a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago in 1932.

In 1920, Baron became rabbi of Tri-City Temple Emanuel, which served the Jewish populations of Davenport, Iowa, and Moline and Rock Island, Illinois. During his six-year tenure, he established the Tri-City Jewish Charities, the Tri-City Scribe, the Ezra School, the Emanuel Religious School, the Davenport Lodge of B'nai B'rith, and the local Council of Jewish Youth Clubs. He also taught at an extension of the University of Iowa and helped found Congregation Judah of Cedar Rapids, Iowa. In the summers, Baron traveled to New York City to work in social service under Rabbi Stephen *Wise of the Free Synagogue.

Baron's second – and last – congregation was Temple Emanu-El (later Emanu-El B'ne Jeshurun) in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where he was to spend 35 years as a religious and civic leader (1926–51 as rabbi, 1951–60 as rabbi emeritus). Under his stewardship, the congregation grew to comprise a library, a museum, a modernized religious school, and auxiliary organizations. In the larger community, he was instrumental in establishing the Milwaukee Round Table of the National Conference of Christians and Jews, the Milwaukee Jewish Council, the Milwaukee Chapter of the American Jewish Committee, and the Yavneh School for Unaffiliated Jewish Children. In addition, he served on the boards of the Milwaukee Jewish Community Center, Federated Jewish Charities, and the Jewish Welfare Fund.

Statewide, Baron helped establish a number of synagogues and organizations. He also served on the Governor's Commission on Human Rights. On a national level, Baron was a member of the Board of Governors of Hebrew Union College (1937–40) and of the Joint ccar-uahc Commission on Religious Education (1926–27). In 1939, the Union of American Hebrew Congregations adopted his plan for a network of youth clubs that was to become, under the full-time guidance of Rabbi Samuel *Cook, the National Federation of Temple Youth (now called the North American Federation of Temple Youth).

Baron, who lectured on philosophy at State Teachers' College and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, as well as for the Jewish Chautauqua Society, also developed a reputation as a scholar. A frequent contributor to academic journals and encyclopedias, he was the author of four books: Death in Jewish Folk Religion (1932); In Quest of Integrity (1936); Candles in the Night (1940); and Stars and Sand (1943). He is best known, however, for researching, compiling, and editing the valuable compendium of Jewish wisdom from throughout the ages, A Treasury of Jewish Quotations (1956, 1985). With its vast collection of 18,000 quotations, it remains one of the greatest Jewish reference resources of the 20th century.

[Bezalel Gordon (2nd ed.)]

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