Page 146 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 40

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Hebrew Bible. The major products of this activity are embodied
in about a dozen books and monographs. In addition to these
larger works, several scores of papers have appeared in various
scholarly journals in the U.S., Great Britain and Israel.” It should
be noted that the treatment of subject matter in most of these
studies is comprehensive and all-inclusive and is not limited to any
particular interest such as history, linguistics, exegesis, etc.
On February 5th, 1928, Robert Gordis married Fannie Jacob­
son, member of a distinguished family of Judaic scholars and
writers. Dr. Gordis credits his wife with the clear vision that as a
biblical scholar he was “at home” only in an atmosphere of tradi­
tionalism in synthesis with objective inquiry. It was in the spring of
1930, at her urging, that he entered the Rabbinical School of the
Jewish Theological Seminary of America. It happened also about
this time that he almost succumbed to a respiratory ailment
brought on by exhaustion from working on three jobs and a heavy
load of studies. Thankfully, a basically robust constitution pulled
him through. He graduated from the Seminary in 1932 as “Rabbi
with Distinction,” earning the coveted prize in Talmud.
Dr. Gordis was invited in 1931 by Temple Beth-El of Rockaway
Park, N.Y., to serve as student rabbi. Not long thereafter, the
temporary position was made permanent. He headed that con­
gregation until his retirement in 1968. The association was fruit­
ful and mutually enriching throughout the years. The congrega­
tion appreciated their rabbi’s outstanding ability to preach, com­
municate authentic knowledge, inspire love for Judaism and aid
people in times of need. Gordis perceived the rabbinate as a
source of continual stimulation. His sermons and lectures re­
flected the broadest range of interests. Everything of concern to
society was grist for his mill. He taught Torah, and that meant
incorporating the insights of Judaism on issues like war and
peace, human rights, the crisis in morality, etc.
Simultaneously with his congregational responsibilities, Gordis
carried a load of academic work, constantly teaching, writing and
pursuing research of foremost scholarly quality. He has always
regarded the dual enterprise of pulpit preaching and teaching
Torah on an academic level as vital because “it endows schol­
arship with relevance and life with meaning”
(Proceedings of the