Schaalman, Herman E.

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SCHAALMAN, HERMAN E. (1916– ), Reform rabbi. Schaalman was born in Munich, Germany, where his father – a veteran of World War i, having fought in the Battle of Verdun – was a professor of mathematics and physics and a cantor at an orphanage. His mother came from a rabbinic family. Herman was a graduate of the Maximillian Gymnasium (1935) and was but the second boy in the Liberal Gemeinde to read the entire sidrah for his bar mitzvah. He was taught Hebrew privately and entered the Liehranstalt fuer die Wissenschat des Judentums in 1935, when German universities were closed to Jewish students. Along with Alfred Wolfe and Guenther *Plaut and two other students, he was offered a scholarship to Hebrew Union College by its visionary president Julian *Morgenstern, who rescued five students and five scholars from Nazi Germany by bringing them to huc. Schaalman was a student at Hebrew Union College (1935–41) and was ordained in 1941. He studied at the University of Cincinnati, receiving both his B.A. and his M.A. (1937). He was also awarded an honorary degree of doctor of divinity from Hebrew Union College–Jewish Institute of Religion in 1966.

He served as rabbi of Temple Judah in Cedar Rapids, Iowa (1941–49), taught at nearby Coe College and Cornell College, and became director of the Chicago Federation of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations between 1949 and 1951. Under his leadership the Olin-Sang Ruby Union Institute was established and he was its first director. Olin-Sang-Ruby is a camp and retreat center that serves children and adults in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin. Despite his desperate need for the $15,000 down payment for a $63,000 purchase, Schaalman returned a $5,000 check he had received from a Chicago area gangster who had been affiliated with Al Capone and who ran a string of brothels. He received the funds elsewhere. As a regional director, he helped found four congregations in the Chicago area in the post-war boom. Schaalman came to Emanuel Congregation of Chicago in 1955. In 2006 it had more than 900 families as members.

Schaalman served on the board of directors of the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago. He served as chair of the Advisory Committee of the American Jewish Committee and was president of the Central Conference of American Rabbis (1981–83); he also served as chairman of the Ethics Committee, the Committee of Patrilineal Decent, and the Mixed Marriage Committee of the ccar.

Schaalman was active in Chicago civic and cultural activities and was an early pioneer in interfaith work. The Chicago Archdiocese awarded him a Larueante in Ecumenicisim in 1995.

He published articles primarily in the field of theology in various journals and was co-editor of a book, Preaching Biblical Texts. He continued to teach throughout his rabbinate. Schaalman held the Jewish Chautauqua Society resident lectureship at the Garrett Evangelical Theological Seminary, Evanston, and the Chicago Theological Seminary.

In recognition of a career devoted to the service of others, he was cited as one of the outstanding foreign-born citizens of Chicago by the Immigrants' Service League. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame of the Jewish Community Centers.

Schaalman was president of the Chicago Board of Rabbis and of the Jewish Council on Urban Affairs. He was a long-time member of the Education Committee of National Holocaust Council.

As he reached the much honored stage of four score years, the honors for the life he led started pouring in. In September 1999, the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago bestowed on him its award, the Julius Rosenwald Medallion. In June 2000, the Catholic Theological Union at Chicago conferred on him an honorary doctorate in ministry. In October 2000, the Chicago Theological Seminary selected Rabbi Schaalman to receive their prestigious Graham Taylor Award and announced the establishment of the Rabbi Herman E. Schaalman Chair in Jewish Studies in recognition of his enormous impact on theological students, pastors, rabbis, and academics through over 14 years of teaching in Jewish-Christian Studies. The Spertus Institute of Judaic Studies granted the rabbi an honorary doctorate in October 2001. In May 2002, Schaalman was the recipient of the highest award given by the state of Illinois, the Lincoln Medal.

In May 2004 he received an honorary doctorate from Garrett – Evangelical Theological Institute at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois.

In June 2004 he received the Luminary Senior Award from the City of Chicago and he was inducted into the 2004 Chicago Senior Citizens Hall of Fame.

In September 2004 the Chicago City Park District dedicated a park in the rabbi's honor.

[Michael Berenbaum (2nd ed.)]