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Routtenberg, Max Jonah


ROUTTENBERG, MAX JONAH (1909–1987), U.S. Conservative rabbi and organizational executive. Routtenberg was born in Montreal, Quebec, and received a B.S. from New York University in 1930. In 1932, he was ordained at the *Jewish Theological Seminary, where he earned a D.H.L. in 1949. He became rabbi of Kesher Zion Synagogue in Reading, Pennsylvania (1932–48), where he created an educational center that helped establish Conservative Judaism in eastern Pennsylvania. He took a leave of absence during World War ii to serve as a senior chaplain in the U.S, Army in Europe.

In 1949, Routtenberg was appointed executive vice president of the *Rabbinical Assembly, where he worked to fill the growing demand for pulpit rabbis. From 1951 to 1954, he served as executive vice president of the Jewish Theological Seminary, as well as dean of the Cantors Institute and the Seminary College of Jewish Music. He also lectured on synagogue administration at the jts Teachers Institute (1950–52). In 1954, Routtenberg returned to the congregational rabbinate to serve Temple B'nai Sholom of Rockville Center, Long Island, where he remained until his retirement in 1972. At the same time, he was appointed chairman of the National Academy of Adult Jewish Studies (1955–60). Under his leadership, B'nai Sholom became a model synagogue center, complete with its own Institute of Adult Jewish Studies, Women's Institute, Judaica library and Lecture Forum.

In 1964, Routtenberg was elected president of the Rabbinical Assembly and led the Conservative movement's rabbinical association into the *Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations. Following his term of office (1964–66), he chaired the ra's Committee on Chaplaincy during the turbulent years of the Vietnam War, when jts students voted to reject the system of compulsory procurement of chaplains for the U.S. armed forces. In 1970, he was tapped to chair the Special Committee on Revitalization of the Law Committee, established in the wake of the resignation of most of the committee's members. Subsequently, he chaired the ra's Publications Committee (1972–82), the committee that revised the Rabbinical Assembly constitution in 1977 and the Liturgical Committee as it oversaw the issuance of a new siddur for Sabbath and Festivals, as well as Conservative Judaism's amended ketubbah. He was also program director for two television programs that depicted Judaism to the outside world: The Eternal Light, produced by the jts for nbc, and abc tv's Directions.

He also served on the Commission on the Jewish Chaplaincy of the *National Jewish Welfare Board, the Delegates Council of the *Synagogue Council of America, and the Internal Affairs Commission of the New York Board of Rabbis. Routtenberg wrote Seedtime and Harvest (1969), Decades of Decision (1973), and One in a Minyan and Other Stories (1977), a collection of short stories. His final work, undertaken with Max Gelb, was the English translation of Abraham Joshua Heschel's Torah Min ha-Shamayim be-Aspeklarya shel ha-Dorot (Heavenly Torah As Refracted Through the Generation) and was completed by Gordon Tucker and published in 2004.

[Bezalel Gordon (2nd ed.)]

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