Martin, Bernard

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MARTIN, BERNARD (1928–1982), U.S. rabbi and educator. Martin was born in Seklence, Czechoslovakia, and educated in the U.S. He was ordained as a rabbi at Hebrew Union College in 1951, receiving his M.H.L. degree with highest honors. He pursued a combined career as pulpit rabbi and scholar, and received a doctorate in philosophy from the University of Illinois in 1960.

Martin served as rabbi of Sinai Temple in Champaign, Ill., from 1951 to 1957, with a leave of absence to serve as a chaplain in the U.S. army in Japan from 1953 to 1955. He was associate rabbi of Sinai Temple in Chicago from 1957 to 1961 and then senior rabbi of Mount Zion Temple in St. Paul, Minn., until 1966. He held a "centrist" position in the Reform rabbinate, welcoming increased use of Hebrew and ritual, while urging the formulation of "a statement of Jewish theological belief that will satisfy both the mind and heart of the groping and intellectually sophisticated contemporary Jew." Martin also served on the boards of Jewish and civic organizations in St. Paul, including the Jewish Fund and Council, Talmud Torah, Jewish Community Center, Council on Religion and Race, and Zionist District.

In 1966, Martin accepted a professorship at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, where he became chair of the department of religion in 1967 and Abba Hillel Silver Professor of Jewish Studies in 1968. He was active in the American Academy for Jewish Research, Academy for Jewish Philosophy, and American Academy of Religion, among others, and served from 1975 to 1981 as editor of the ccar Journal, published by the Central Conference of American Rabbis.

Martin's first book was The Existentialist Theology of Paul Tillich (1963). He then developed a specialty in the Russian Jewish existentialist Lev Shestov, editing Great Twentieth Century Jewish Philosophers (Shestov, Rosenzweig, Buber, 1969) and A Shestov Anthology (1970), and translating Shestov's Athens and Jerusalem (1966), Potestas Clavium (1968), and Speculation and Revelation (1982). Martin's works on Judaism include Prayer in Judaism (1968), Contemporary Reform Jewish Thought (ed., 1968), A History of Judaism (vol. 2: Europe and the New World, 1974), Movements and Issues in American Judaism (ed., 1978), and a historical novel on Shabbetai Zevi, That Man from Smyrna (1978). Martin translated and edited Yiddish works, including literary historian Israel Zinberg's magnum opus, A History of Jewish Literature (12 vols., 1972–78) and Dovid Bergelson's novel, When All is Said and Done (1977).


A. Soloff, "Bernard Martin," in: ccary, 92 (1982), 252–53.

[Mark L. Smith (2nd ed.)]

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Martin, Bernard

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