Abraham Horvitz (1894-1980), Papers.

  • Dates: 1911-1980
  • Size: .4 linear ft.
  • Number of Boxes: 1
  • Languages:
    • English
    • Hebrew
    • Yiddish
  • Location: Special Collections Reading Room, Jewish Theological Seminary Library.
  • Restrictions: Reproduction of fragile items is not permitted; consult the archivist about literary rights.
  • Gift Of: Judith Bernstein
  • Date: 1991
  • Related Collections: Records of Congregation Rodfei Sholom-Oir Chodesh

MCS, 6/16/94

Table of Contents:

A Note on Folder Headings

Individual folders are identified in the following way on the left side of each folder: Name of Collection, box #/folder#, as in Ben Zion Bokser Papers, 4/22. Please use this format in citations and when referring to files for any other reason.

Biographical Note

Rabbi Abraham Horvitz was born in Louisville, Kentucky in 1894, and received rabbinical ordination from The Jewish Theological Seminary in 1925. He earned bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Chicago, but his studies at Dropsie College for Hebrew learning in Philadelphia were interrupted when he volunteered for service in World War One.

At the end of the war, Horvitz won a government scholarship to the University of Poitiers, France, where he studied French literature for two years. Upon returning to the United States, Horvitz earned his Rabbinical degree from the Jewish Theological Seminary, graduating in 1925, and served as rabbi first at Chicago's Congregation Oir Chodesh (earning a PhD from the University of Chicago simultaneously) and then in Madison, Wisconsin, where beginning in 1934 he led Agudas Achim congregation.

In 1929, Rabbi Horvitz took a two and one half month tour of Europe to observe the conditions of Jewish communities there.

Upon the outbreak of World War Two, Rabbi Horvitz volunteered again for the army, where he served as a chaplain and advanced to the rank of major. Following the war, Rabbi Horvitz settled in the New York area, leading congregations in Staten Island and Far Rockaway, Queens. In 1966, Horvitz received the Distinguished Pulpit Rabbi Award from The Jewish Theological Seminary. He died in 1980.

A constant theme in the work of Rabbi Horvitz was patriotism. He expressed an adulation for Abraham Lincoln, and regularly stressed the consistency between being a good Jew and a good American. He encouraged both immigration and acculturation; during the 1930s, he attempted, with little success, to have the now-Christian long-lost relatives of European Jews sponsor their immigration to the United States.

Collection Description

Rabbi Horvitz's papers consist of sermons and other homiletic material, 1950s-1970s, biographical materials, correspondence, photographs, cassette tapes, and a memorial book put together by members of Horvitz's family. Some of the material is photocopied, while the rest is original.

Biographical materials consist of brief mentions in high school and college publications, as well as a short sketch written in 1968. There is a wide range of homiletic material in the collection, ranging from notes Horvitz prepared for sermons to essays on subjects such as America and patriotism that he wrote for congregational newsletters. There are photocopies of several newspaper clippings, including an extensive article on Horvitz's 1929 trip to Europe in the Chicago Southtown Economist. Also included are photocopies of a fair amount of correspondence, such as a letter (in Yiddish) from Horvitz to his father, wartime letters from Horvitz's son, and some very interesting letters with observations of late-war and postwar Europe from men whose chaplain Horvitz had been. Photographs in the collection date from World War II as well as from various earlier ceremonial occasions; there is also a picture of Horvitz meeting his daughter-in-law's uncle, Mr. Jacobowitz, the leader of Cracow's postwar Jewish community. The collection also includes such miscellany as a photocopy of a poster advertising High Holy Day services at Camp Chafee, Arkansas, 1943, and a file of Horvitz's honors and awards.

Horvitz's family compiled remembrances upon his death, including a bound memorial volume, all of which are in this collection. There are also tape recordings of a Horvitz sermon, and of his granddaughter's wedding, at which he officiated.

Box List

Box  Folder(s) Description 
1 1 Biographical materials, 1919; 1928; n.d.
 Correspondence, 1936-1980
 3 Homiletcal materials, 1927-1974; n.d.
 4 Honors and awards, 1928; 1966
 5 Memorial books, 1980
 6 Newspaper clippings, 1919-1980
 7 Photographs, 1911-1977
 8 Recordings, 1973-1978
 9 Miscellaneous, 1921; 1944