Trachtenberg, Joshua

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TRACHTENBERG, JOSHUA (1904–1959), U.S. Reform rabbi and scholar. Trachtenberg, born in London, was taken to the U.S. in 1907. He received rabbinic ordination at Hebrew Union College (1936) and served Congregation Covenant of Peace, Easton, Pennsylvania (1930–51), and Bergen County Reform Temple, Teaneck, New Jersey (1953–59). During 1951–52 he worked on a survey of religious conditions in Israel, sponsored by the Central Conference of American Rabbis and the Union of American Hebrew Congregations. His report, displaying great depth of feeling, appeared in the Year Book (1952) of the Central Conference of American Rabbis. Trachtenberg was active both in the fields of scholarship and community work. In Easton he was president of the Jewish Community Council (1939–46); an ardent Zionist, he was identified with the Labor Zionist movement. His scholarly work was conducted despite the handicap of a serious eye defect. Jewish Magic and Superstition (1939, repr. 1961) was his Ph.D. dissertation at Columbia University. An outgrowth of this study was The Devil and the Jews (1943, repr. 1966), which examines the relationship of the medieval conception of antisemitism to the modern variety. Consider the Years (1944) is a history of the Easton Jewish community.


A.J. Zuckerman, in: ccary, 70 (1961), 180–1.

[Sefton D. Temkin]