Routtenberg, Max (1909-1987), Papers.

  • Dates: 1920s-1980s
  • Size: 3 linear ft.
  • Number of Boxes and Packages: Three boxes; two packages
  • 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: Lilly Routtenberg
  • Date: May 23, 1991

TSH, 9/16/91

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 Max Jonah Routtenberg, born in Montreal in 1909, was ordained by the Jewish Theological Seminary of America in 1932; he earned a Doctor of Hebrew Letters at JTS in 1949. In 1932 Routtenberg took his first congregational pulpit at Kesher Zion Synagogue in Reading, Pennsylvania, and remained until 1948. Routtenberg left Kesher Zion during World War II to enlist as a chaplain in the United States Army. He was the army's senior chaplain at its United Kingdom base from 1942 to 1945.

From 1949 to 1951 Routtenberg served the Rabbinical Assembly as its executive vice-president, after which he was made executive vice-president of the Jewish Theological Seminary, a role he held from 1951 to 1954. In 1954 Routtenberg returned to congregational life to serve Temple B'nai Sholom, Rockville Center, Long Island, remaining until 1972.

During his service at Temple B'nai Sholom, Routtenberg assumed a variety of leadership roles within the national organizations of the Conservative movement. From 1960 to 1963 he was chairman of the Committee on Jewish Law and Standards. From 1964 to 1966 Routtenberg was president of the Rabbinical Assembly. Thereafter he served on many different Rabbinical Assembly committees.

Rabbi Routtenberg died in January, 1987.

Collection Description

The papers of Max Routtenberg consist primarily of his own writings created during his rabbinical career. Included in these writings are sermons and sermon notes, including those used for the exposition of Torah portions; sermon material used on High Holidays and festivals; sermon material on various moral and social topics, such as adversity, war, prosperity, and antisemitism; eulogies; and lectures and lecture notes, including those from a program known as "Friday Night Lectures" (1954-1962), Herzl Institute lectures (1960s), a lecture given at the Institute For Religious and Social Studies at JTS (1965), and various topical lectures on such subjects as conversion and intermarriage, Jewish law, and the prayer book.

Also included in these papers is material related to Routtenberg's career as an army chaplain. There is a scrapbook which is primarily devoted to military memorabilia and which dates from Routtenberg's service as a chaplain in the army's United Kingdom base during World War II. This scrapbook contains such items as photographs and newspaper clippings related to his enlistment; Routtenberg's farewell to his congregation (Kesher Zion - Reading, Pennsylvania); documentation of his travels throughout Europe; and a letter from Congregation Kesher Zion requesting that Routtenberg resume his role as their spiritual leader after the war. Also included among the records of his military career are Routtenberg's official military identification and his certificate of honorable discharge. There are also records documenting Routtenberg's service as a chaplain at Camp Myles Standish, Taunton, Massachusetts, where he was initially stationed for a time after his military enlistment.

Material related to Routtenberg's congregational rabbinical career is also included in this collection. Included are bulletins, newsletters, clippings, and other material from his two congregational pulpits: Kesher Zion, Reading, Pennsylvania (1932-1948) and B'nai Sholom - Rockville Center, Long Island (1954-1972).

Material documenting Rabbi Routtenberg's involvement in the Rabbinical Assembly is rather sparse. That which is present is chiefly correspondence relating to the operations of the Publications Committee, of which he was the chairman from 1972 to 1982. Also included is a transcript of Routtenberg's address to the Rabbinical Assembly in which he delineates his goals as its president.

Also among these papers is a small body of correspondence, including both general correspondence with friends and congregants, as well as professional correspondence with colleagues, The Jewish Theological Seminary, and the Rabbinical Assembly.

There are also two audio tapes in this collection. One tape contains lectures which Routtenberg delivered as part of a series known as "The Dissenters, " in which dissenting figures within Jewish history are discussed. On the other tape Routtenberg is engaged in a discussion of prayer and the prayerbook. Both tapes have been removed and are now part of the Ratner Center Sound Collection, numbers S114 and S115.

Series List

  • I. Writings, 1920s-1980s
  • II. Military Career, 1943-1953
  • III. Rabbinical Career, 1932-1982
  • IV. Correspondence, 1960s-1970s
  • V. Tapes, 1970

Box List

Box  Folder(s)  Description 
  I. Writings, 1920s-1980s, n.d.
1 1-2     Genesis, n.d.
 3-4     Exodus, 1960s-1970s, n.d.
 5-6     Leviticus, 1954, n.d.
 7     Numbers, 1954, n.d.
 8     Deuteronomy, 1954, n.d.
 9-11     Eulogies, 1970s-1980s; n.d.
 12-16     High Holidays, 1950s-1980s
 17     Festivals, 1941-1961; n.d.
 18-19     Passover, 1955, n.d.
 20     Succot and Shmini Azeret, 1941; 1954; n.d.
 21     Bibliographical Information, n.d.
 22-23     Social Issues, 1954; 1969; n.d.
 24-26     Miscellaneous, 1920s-1970s, n.d.
2 1-4     Friday Night Lectures, 1954-1962
 5-6     Herzl Institute, 1960s
 7     Institute for Religious and Social Studies, 1965
      General, 1920s-1980s, n.d.
 8     Books of the Bible, 1954-1955
 9-11     Conversion and Intermarriage, 1970s, n.d.
 12     Jewish Law, n.d.
 13     Jewish Theological Seminary, n.d.
 14     Prayerbook, 1980s, n.d.
 15-17     Miscellaneous, 1940s-1980s, n.d.
      Other Writings:
 18     Collected Anecdotes, n.d.
 19     On Mordecai Kaplan, 1980s, n.d.
 20     "Heaven in My Hand," n.d.
 21-22     Passover, 1930s-1970s, n.d.
 23-24     Prayer, 1920s-1940s, n.d.
 25     Published Articles, 1930s-1960s, n.d.
 26     Sabbath Morning Seminars, 1955-1965
 27     "The Sixth Inning," n.d.
  II. Military Career, 1943-1953, n.d.
Pkg. 1 Scrapbook, 1943-1945, n.d.
2 28 Military Records, 1944-1953
 29-31 Camp Myles Standish, 1943-1945, n.d.
  III. Rabbinical Career, 1932-1982, n.d.
 32     Kesher Zion, Reading, PA, 1932-1948, n.d.
Pkg. 2     Scrapbook, 1932-1948, n.d.
3 1-2     B'nai Sholom, Rockville Center, L.I., 1952-1979, n.d.
      Rabbinical Assembly:
 3-4     General, 1966-1980, n.d.
      Publications Committee, 1972-1982
 6     Clippings, 1960s-1980s, n.d.
 7     Post-1972 Activities, 1972-1980s, n.d.
 8     American Jewish Committee Meeting, 1975
 9     Temple Emmanu-El, Providence, RI, 1980, n.d.
  IV. Correspondence, 1960s-1977
 10 General, 1960s-1980s
 11 "One in a Minyan," 1972
 12 Professional, 1940s-1970s
 13 Personal, 1974-1977
  V. Tapes, 1970
S114 "The Dissenters," 1970
S115 On Prayer, 1970