Morris Silverman (1894-1972), Papers.

  • Dates: 1908-1986; n.d.
  • Size: .8 linear ft.
  • Number of Boxes: 2
  • Languages:
    • English
    • Hebrew
  • 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: Rabbi Hillel E. Silverman
  • Date: 1987
  • Related Collections: The Ratner Center's Jacob Agus papers contain additional information about the Prayer Book Commission.

MCS, 7/28/94

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 Morris Silverman led Emanuel Synagogue, the largest Conservative congregation in Connecticut, for thirty-eight years (1923-1961). He was born into an Orthodox household in Newburgh, New York in 1894. A 1916 Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Ohio State University, with a major in American history and minors in philosophy and religion, Silverman went on to earn a masters degree in American history at Columbia University in New York. In 1922 he received rabbinic ordination and a doctorate in Hebrew literature from The Jewish Theological Seminary. In 1923 he went to Hartford, Connecticut to serve as rabbi of Emanuel Synagogue.

During his tenure at Emanuel Synagogue, Rabbi Silverman was a prolific writer, publishing twelve prayer books and contributing to the Encyclopedia Judaica. He was also prominent in organizations of the Conservative movement, serving in various positions at the Rabbinical Assembly and the United Synagogue and on the Jewish Theological Seminary's Board of Overseers. For twenty-two years Rabbi Silverman served on the Connecticut Civil Rights Commission, acting as chairman for six of those years. In that role, he appeared several times before congressional committees, testifying about civil rights and integration.

Upon his retirement from Emanuel in 1961 Rabbi Silverman continued to be active in community affairs. In 1963, he went on a world tour, sponsored by the Department of State, to speak about civil rights in the United States. In 1971, Rabbi Silverman published Jews in Hartford, 1659-1970.

Collection Description

This small collection of Rabbi Morris Silverman's papers consists largely of photocopies of letters, clippings, typescripts of sermons, and other materials documenting his rabbinical career and, to a lesser extent, his personal life. Originals of the papers are held by Rabbi Silverman's son, Hillel Silverman, the donor of this collection. A few original photographs are included here.

Numerous items in the collection provide information about Rabbi Silverman's career as a whole. These include condolence letters and tributes written after his 1972 death, and various anniversary materials prepared to commemorate his wedding or his leadership of Emanuel Synagogue.

Rabbi Silverman's 1963 around the world trip is documented by newspaper articles reporting on his activities and talks - largely on civil rights - from the countries he visited. Personal materials in the collection include report cards from grade school dating back as far as 1908; additional newspaper articles about Rabbi Silverman's career; correspondence regarding his efforts to establish a center for the study of American Jewish History; and a 1986 reminiscence by Rabbi Hillel Silverman about his father. The collection also contains a file on honors won by Rabbi Silverman, such as the Medallion of the City of Hartford, traditionally awarded to citizens who gain international stature, and one documenting the naming of the synagogue at The Jewish Theological Seminary's American Student Center in Israel. Letters to Rabbi Silverman from famous personalities, such as David Ben-Gurion and Lyndon Johnson are included. The photographs consist mostly of portraits of Rabbi Silverman.

Of particular note are files of typescripts of Rabbi Silverman's sermons, undated, and clippings of newspaper articles reporting on the sermons, ca.1925-1930 (2/6,7). Also of note is correspondence, ca.1944-1947, between Rabbi Silverman and rabbis Israel Levinthal and Robert Gordis and some others concerning their work on the Sabbath and Festival Prayerbook which was edited by Silverman and published in 1946 by the Joint Prayerbook Commission of the United Synagogue and the Rabbinical Assembly (2/4). Some minutes of the Commission from the same period are included. One thick file (2/5) contains letters, 1953, written to Rabbi Silverman on the occasion of his thirtieth anniversary at Emanuel Synagogue.

Box List

Box  Folder(s)  Description  
1 1   Anniversaries, 1933-1969
   2 Anniversary, 30th, at Eamanuel Synagoge, 1953
   3 Around the world trip, 1963
   4 Birthday, 70th, 1972
   5-9 Condolence letters, 1972
   10 Death (announcements, memorials, obituaries), 1972
   11 Emanuel Synagoge, 1938-1970
   12 Eulogy by Rabbi Hillel Silverman, 1972
   13   Honors, 1964-1971
   14 Letters from distinguished personalities, 1933-1964
2 1 Miscellaneous (clippings, letters, printed material), 1963-1966; n.d.
   2 Personal material (school report cards, letters, clippings), 1908-1971; 1986
   3 Photographs, n.d.
   4 Prayerbook materials (including correspondence with Israel Levinthal and Robert Gordis, and minutes of the Prayerbook Commission), 1944-1947
   5 Prayerbook materials, testimonial letters, 1953
   6 Sermons, typescripts of , n.d.
   7 Sermons, clippings about, ca. 1925-1930