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September 13: Cyrus Adler

September 12, 2016
Cyrus Adler, librarian at the Smithsonian Institution (1892-1905), chancellor of the Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS), and a founder of the American Jewish Committee, was born to German Jewish immigrants in Van Buren, Arkansas on this date in 1863. A professor of “Semitics” at Johns Hopkins University, he helped to found the Jewish Publication Society in 1888 and edited the American Jewish Yearbook from 1899-1905. Adler bridged the worlds of scholarship, organizational know-how, religion, philanthropy — and even diplomacy, as representative of the AJCommittee at the Paris Peace Conference in 1919. With Solomon Schechter, whom he recruited to head the JTS, Adler created the United Synagogue of America, Conservative Judaism’s umbrella organization. He also served as president of Dropsie College for over thirty years. He died at 76 in 1940, and his autobiography, I Have Considered the Days, was published posthumously. “Adler was a tireless worker and a scrupulous and constructive administrator. He was able to interpret the needs of traditional-minded Jews to the men of wealth in American Jewry. His style allowed little scope for public display of emotion, and this, combined with his aloofness from Zionism, limited his relations to those with whom he was closest in his observance of Judaism.” --Jewish Virtual Library