Braude, William Gordon

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BRAUDE, WILLIAM GORDON

BRAUDE, WILLIAM GORDON (1907–1988), U.S. Reform rabbi and scholar. Braude was born in Telz, Lithuania, the son and grandson of rabbis who were scholars at the famed Telz yeshivah. In 1920, they left Europe for New York and he was enrolled at Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Yeshiva. The family then moved to Denver, Colorado, where Braude became a public school student for the first time. In 1922 his father moved to Dayton, Ohio, where Braude developed an interest in the Reform rabbinate. A graduate of the University of Cincinnati (1929), he was ordained at Hebrew Union College in 1931. After a year in Rockford, Illinois, he served as rabbi of Temple Beth El, Providence, Rhode Island, from 1932. Throughout his career, Braude was a scholar-rabbi, writing, publishing, and teaching. While in Providence, he studied at Brown University. He was awarded his Ph.D. (1939). He joined the Brown faculty, first as a lecturer in Hebrew and later in biblical literature. He later taught at Yale, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and Leo Baeck College.

As a rabbi, Braude was one of the leaders of the right wing within the Reform movement and advocated a return to traditional practices and became known as one of the leading students of rabbinics in the Reform movement. He was a leading supporter of the Hebrew day school concept, reintroduced the head covering at his services, and argued for respect of the dietary laws and other observances. In 1965 he participated in the civil rights demonstration led by Martin Luther King in Montgomery, Alabama. A member of various scholarly bodies, he also served on many civic agencies and lectured widely. Braude wrote Jewish Proselyting in the First Five Centuries of the Common Era, the Age of the Tannaim and Amoraim (1940); a translation with critical notes of Midrash on Psalms (1959); Pesikta de Rav Kahana (1975), a translation with critical notes of the Pesikta Rabbati (1968); and Tanna debe Eliyyahu (1980). These books represent important contributions to the study of midrashic literature and are based on manuscripts and early printed editions. The synagogue library that bears his name contains more than 25,000 volumes.

[Jack Reimer /

Michael Berenbaum (2nd ed.)]