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Wolf, Arnold Jacob


WOLF, ARNOLD JACOB (1924– ), U.S. Reform rabbi. Wolf was born in Chicago, Illinois, and received his B.A. from the University of Cincinnati in 1945. He chose to remain at Hebrew Union College rather than to move to New York's Jewish Theological Seminary when Abraham Joshua *Heschel left huc along with students such as Samuel Dressner and Richard L. Rubenstein. In 1948, he was ordained at *Hebrew Union College, which awarded him an honorary D.D. in 1973. Following ordination, he served as assistant rabbi of Emanuel Congregation in Chicago (1948–51; 1953–57), interrupting civilian life to serve as a chaplain in the U.S. Navy during the Korean War (1951–53). He was also the first director of the Summer Camp Institutes of the National Federation of Temple Youth (1948–51). In 1955, he became rabbi of Chicago's Congregation B'nai Joshua (1955–57), while launching his own television and radio programs broadcast over the Midwest affiliates of the cbs and abc networks. In 1957, he was founding rabbi of Congregation Solel, an experimental synagogue in the Chicago suburb of Highland Park (1957–72). He also taught at the University of Chicago Divinity School, Loyola Marymount University, and the College of Jewish Studies (now Spertus Institute).

In 1972, he decided to leave the pulpit, and Wolf was appointed Jewish chaplain at Yale University, where he also lectured in the philosophy department and served as a commissioner of the Board of Ethics of the city of New Haven. His years on campus were marked by a particularly Jewish brand of social activism: he was chairman of Breira, a group that aimed for shared responsibility by Israeli and Diaspora Jewry for Middle East peace (1973–75), opposed Israel's settlements policy, and sought to talk with the Palestinians. He was a founding contributing editor (with Eugene *Borowitz with whom he had been a fellow student at huc) of Sh'ma, A Journal of Jewish Responsibility. He was also the first official Jewish representative to attend a World Council of Churches Assembly (1975).

In 1980, Wolf returned to Chicago to become rabbi of Illinois' oldest Jewish congregation, Kehilath Anshei Maarav-Isaiah Israel, where he became emeritus in 2000. He resumed leadership roles in the community, becoming president of the Chicago Association of Reform Rabbis (1995–96). In 2002, he was named resident scholar at the Foundation for Jewish Studies in Washington, d.c.

Wolf, who served as theology editor of Judaism magazine from 1998, wrote more than 350 essays as well as four books: Challenge to Confirmands: An Introduction to Jewish Thinking (1963), Rediscovering Judaism: Reflections on a New Theology (1965), What Is Man? (1968), and Unfinished Rabbi (1998). He also co-edited (with Lawrence *Hoffman) Jewish Spiritual Journeys (1997).

[Bezalel Gordon (2nd ed.)]

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