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Archive - Hermann Adler Papers

Identifier: ARC-3


  • Creation: 1867-1912


Language and Scripts Used

English, Hebrew, Yiddish, German, and French.


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:


Box 3 is fragile and therefore restricted.


British chief rabbi from 1891 to 1911, son of Nathan Marcus Adler. Hermann Adler (30 May 1839–18 July 1911) was born in Hanover, Germany, but was taken to London as a child, when his father became British chief rabbi, and was educated there and on the continent. He received rabbinical ordination from S. J. Rapoport in Prague. In 1862 he became principal of Jews' College, and in 1864 minister of Bayswater Synagogue in the West End of London. After 1879 he deputized as delegate chief rabbi for his father who was ill, and was elected to succeed him in 1891. Adler followed and developed the tradition set by his father, combining Orthodoxy with organizational ability, as well as having a firm feeling for the dignity of his office. He was largely instrumental in securing general recognition of the chief rabbi as the main representative of English Jewry, taking his place alongside the heads of other religious communities on public occasions.

Opposed to the ideas of Theodor Herzl, Adler termed political Zionism an “egregious blunder," although he had previously visited Palestine and been active in the Hovevei Zion movement. His period of office coincided with the great Russo-Jewish influx into the British Isles. This created a large “foreign" element in the community, whose confidence he did not gain. Despite periods of friction, Adler succeeded in maintaining his position as chief rabbi of Anglo-Jewry as a whole, the Reform and Sephardi communities being satisfied to be formally represented by him on public occasions. In the relatively small Anglo-Jewish community of the second half of the 19th century, with its integration into non-Jewish society and its painfully achieved balance, Adler saw a sort of self-contained “National Jewish Church," led on the lay side by the head of the Rothschild family and on the ecclesiastical by the Adlers, as the Jewish equivalent of the Anglican or Catholic hierarchy; Hermann Adler even imitated the Anglican episcopal garb. Hence they were seriously perturbed by the influx of Eastern European refugee immigrants from 1882 onward, which disturbed the delicate balance of the community. Adler published historical and other studies and numerous sermons, as well as preliminary studies for an edition of the Ez Hayyim by the 13th century scholar Jacob b. Judah Hazzan of London. A selection of his sermons was published under the title Anglo-Jewish Memories (London, 1909). (Encyclopedia Judaica)


1.47 Linear Feet (in 2.5 document boxes and two flat boxes)

Collection Arrangement

Series 1. Personal Papers

Series 2. Writings and Notes

Series 3. Correspondence

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

Received with the Elkan N. Adler Library, purchased in 1923 from Elkan N. Adler.

Related Archival Materials Note

ARC 2 - Elkan Nathan Adler Papers
ARC 4 - Marcus Nathan Adler Papers
ARC 5 - Nathan Marcus Adler Papers
microfilm number: Mic. 8870 – Letters to Chief Rabbi Hermann Nathan Adler (19 leaves) MS 8879 Hermann Adler Correspondence

Also search the Library catalog for individually cataloged Adler manuscripts, including sermons.

Guide to the Hermann Adler Papers
July 2002.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
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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).
Edition statement
2nd Edition.

Repository Details

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

3080 Broadway
New York N.Y. 10027 USA