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Archive - Moses J.S. Abels Papers

Identifier: ARC-2020-03

Scope and Contents Note

This collection consists of correspondence and ephemera from the period 1944-1949. It is divided into two series: Correspondence and Ephemera.

The Correspondence series is arranged chronologically, other than one folder of greeting cards, thank-you notes, and condolence letters (mostly undated). Most correspondence relates to professional commitments, as well as documentation of Rabbi Abels’ health. Correspondents include prominent rabbis and scholars such as Louis Finkelstein, Samuel Goldenson, Robert Gordis, Arthur H. Neulander, Solomon Gandz, and Bernard Heller, as well as representatives from organizations including the Rabbinical Assembly, the American Jewish Historical Society, the Synagogue Council of America, the Jewish Theological Seminary, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, and the Jewish Reconstructionist Foundation. Of note is a draft for the program of National Family Week of the Synagogue Council of America which took place in May 1946; Rabbi Abels was a member of the Committee on Jewish Participation in this event.

The Ephemera series consists of a newspaper clipping, meeting flyers, and one pamphlet from the Committee for Relief of Jewish Refugees. The newspaper clipping details Rabbi Abels' career up to September 1943, on the occasion of his new role as the rabbi of Temple Emanuel in Passaic, New Jersey.


  • Creation: 1943-1949


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Biographical Note

Rabbi Moses J.S. Abels was a Conservative rabbi. Born Moses Abelsky in Lithuania in 1884 or 1887, he emigrated to New York in 1897. He attended City College and earned a Master of Arts from Columbia University before becoming ordained at the Jewish Theological Seminary in 1908. Rabbi Abels led congregations in cities including Altoona, Pennsylvania, and Wilmington, Delaware, before returning to New York City. He served as the rabbi of Temple Emanu-El of Borough Park and Temple Emanuel of Passaic, New Jersey, among other congregations, and he was frequently called upon to lead services for the High Holidays and other seasonal duties. Rabbi Abels died in 1959.

His daughter Marcella Cisney (born Marcella Ruth Abels) was a successful theater producer. Her papers, which include personal correspondence with Rabbi Abels, are located at the Billy Rose Theatre Division of the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts.


0.417 Linear Feet (1 oversize document case)

Location Note

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

Immediate Source of Acquisition Note

Materials were discovered at the Second Presbyterian Church at 6 West 96th Street, New York City, presumably in connection with High Holiday services hosted there for Congregation Brith Sholom in the 1940s-1950s. They were transferred by Nancy M. Hughes, Clerk of Session, in August 2020.

Processing Information Note

Materials were arranged and described by Elizabeth Kobert, Processing Archivist, in September 2020.

Some of the letters were sorted in chronological order and others were in alphabetical order. They were then arranged entirely by chronology and separated into one folder per year. Letters that were clipped or otherwise grouped together remain together, even if they span more than one year.

Newspaper clippings were encased in protective sleeves.


Genre / Form

Guide to the Moses J.S. Abels Papers
Elizabeth Kobert
October 7, 2020
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Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Repository Details

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

3080 Broadway
New York N.Y. 10027 USA