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Archive - Arzt, Max Rabbinical Papers

Identifier: ARC-1000-013

Scope and Contents Note

Arzt's papers, ca. 1919-1975, are divided into two parts. The first consists of manuscripts of Arzt's writings (Series I), largely sermons, dating from 1919, two years before his graduation from the Seminary, until his death in 1975. These were donated to the Ratner Center in 1987 by Rabbi Saul Teplitz. The rest of the papers (Series II-VIII), making up the bulk of the collection, consists of files Arzt amassed during his years as an administrator at the Seminary.

Arzt's writings consist of the following: sermons, 1919-1973 (since many writings are undated, all date ranges are approximate); speeches and lectures, 1955-1975, on Jewish topics delivered at synagogues, universities, over WOR radio, and at other forums; speeches delivered at Seminary commencements, convocations, and other events, 1921-1975; some Seminary teaching notes; an essay written for the Friedenwald Prize, 1921; a proposal for a Seminary ethics center, 1958 (which was later called the World Academy of Ethics, but did not come to fruition); an essay written for the Joint Prayer Book Commission; manuscripts of Joy and Remembrance; articles, book reviews, translations, and other writings.

The rest of the collection, the bulk, documents Arzt's activities as an administrator at the Seminary. Even though Arzt arrived at the Seminary in an administrative capacity in 1939, these files date largely from the 1950s until the 1970s. Records from the earlier period appear to be missing. Some additional files are also missing, as noted in the box list.

Included are two large groups of files, fundraising files (Series II), and general correspondence files (Series III), both 1950s-1970s. Both of these overwhelmingly document Arzt's activities as a fundraiser for the Seminary. These files largely contain correspondence with donors and between Arzt and other Seminary administrators concerning donations and the establishment of funds and scholarships. Despite the preponderance of material relating to fundraising in the correspondence files, material documenting Arzt's other activities at the Seminary does appear. Some files seem to function also as subject files, containing material about people in addition to (or instead of) correspondence with them. For instance, the correspondence file for Abraham Joshua Heschel contains material about Heschel and includes texts of some of his talks. The file for Max Kadushin contains correspondence concerning the publication of his book, A Conceptual Approach to the Mekilta.

Also included are deceased patrons files, 1964-1971 (Series VI), containing condolence letters and other correspondence written on the deaths of donors; files, 1959-1969, documenting a Passover fund which raised money for needy people in Israel at Passover (Series V); files documenting Arzt's part in arrangements for commencements and convocations at the Seminary, 1954-1973 (Series III); and subject files, 1950s-1970s (Series VII and VIII). Topics represented in the subject files are listed in the attached box list; some subject files were numbered and are organized by number (Series VIII).

Of particular note in the correspondence files (box 15, folders 20-22) is a group of thirty-eight letters, 1905-1913 (a few are undated) written by the Seminary's third president, Solomon Schechter (1847-1915) to a colleague and former student, Charles Isaiah Hoffman (1864-1945). A typescript of an address delivered by Schechter at the Seminary is also included. Some of these letters are in Schechter's handwriting; others are typed or are in the handwriting of his secretary, Joseph Abrahams. All are signed by Schechter. A few notes to Hoffman and his family from Schechter's wife Mathilde Schechter are included.

In the early 1970s David Hoffman, Charles Hoffman's son, sent these letters to Arzt. Arzt planned to publish them, and his notes on the letters, introduction to them, and correspondence with David Arzt - all included here - shed light on the letters and this project. Arzt had not published the letters by his death in 1975.

Schechter and Hoffman shared a close personal and collegial relationship, as the tone of these letters demonstrates. Included are discussions of Schechter's struggles with the Reform movement, goings-on at the Seminary, progress on Schechter's writings, and health and family matters.


  • Creation: 1919-1975


Languages or Scripts of Materials



Materials are available by appointment only. To make an appointment and request materials in advance, contact the Librarian in charge of archival materials at: 212.678.8973 or via E-mail:


Reproduction of fragile items is not permitted. The Schechter letters are fragile, please use the photocopies provided in the file, instead of the originals. Consult the Librarian about literary rights.


Rabbi Max Arzt was born in Poland in 1897 and came to the United States in 1900. After his ordination in 1921 at the Jewish Theological Seminary, Arzt served as rabbi at Temple Raphael, Stamford, Connecticut 1921-1924, then at Temple Israel, Scranton, Pennsylvania, 1924-1939.

In 1939, Arzt returned to the Jewish Theological Seminary to begin a second, long career as an administrator and faculty member. He headed the Seminary's Department of Field Services and Activities (a fundraising unit), became a vice-chancellor in 1951, and taught practical theology in the Seminary's rabbinical school.

Arzt was also active in the organizations of the Conservative movement. He was president of the Rabbinical Assembly, 1939-1940, and chairman, 1947-1952, of the Joint Prayer Book Commission of the Rabbinical Assembly and the United Synagogue.

Arzt wrote two books, Justice and Mercy: Commentary on the Liturgy of the New Year and the Day of Atonement (1963) and Joy and Remembrance: Commentary on the Sabbath Eve Liturgy (1979).

Max Arzt died in 1975.


21.25 Linear Feet (in 17 record center cartons.)

Collection Arrangement

I. Sermons and Other Writings, 1919-1975; n.d.

II. Jewish Theological Seminary Fundraising Files, 1950s-1970s

III. Commencement and Convocation Files, 1954-1973

IV. General Correspondence Files, 1950s-1970s

V. Passover Fund, 1959-1969

VI. Deceased Donors Files, ca.1964-1971

VII. Subject Files, ca.1955-1972

VIII. Numbered Subject Files, ca.1968-1972

Location Note

Materials are available (by appointment only) at The Special Collections Reading Room, The Library of the Jewish Theological Seminary, 3080 Broadway, New York, NY 10027. Phone: 212.678.8973 or via E-mail:

Source of Acquisition

Arzt's sermons and writings (Series I) are the gift of Rabbi Saul Teplitz, 1987. The remainder of the collection comes from the Seminary's own files.

Related Archival Materials Note

ARC.101 Solomon Schechter Family Papers, which are partially available in micro film (21 reels of film; the call number for the microfilm is "MIC ARC 1.")

Guide to the Max Arzt Rabbinical Papers
JB, Julie Miller, JS, YL.
September 2, 1993.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Funding for the retrospective conversion of the original finding aid documents to produce this guide using Archivists’ Toolkit was made possible by a grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC).

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections, The Library of The Jewish Theological Seminary Repository

3080 Broadway
New York N.Y. 10027 USA