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Max Lilienthal

Rabbi Max Lilienthal (November 6, 1815 – April 6, 1882) was a German-born adviser for the reform of Jewish schools in Russia and later a rabbi and proponent of Reform Judaism in the United States. Lilienthal served as a rabbi for several years after his arrival in New York City in 1845, including at the Anshe Chesed Synagogue. He opened a Jewish school in 1850. In 1855, he moved to Cincinnati to become an editor of The American Israelite and serve as rabbi of Congregation Bene Israel. As a rabbi in Cincinnati, he promoted Reform Judaism. He wrote for several publications and was an advocate for both Jewish and secular schools, teaching at Hebrew Union College and serving on the Cincinnati board of education. Lilienthal was later an active supporter of the movement to abolish slavery in the United States, though a minority of American Jews, primarily those in the South, were themselves slaveholders and disagreed strongly with his position.


Prayer before the Tomb of George Washington at Mount Vernon by Rabbi Dr. Max Lilienthal (13 July 1876)

Contributed on: 18 Jun 2024 by Aharon N. Varady (editing/transcription) | Max Lilienthal |

A prayer of Rabbi Lilienthal offered at a tree planting ceremony at the grave of George Washington attended by the delegates to the Council of Hebrew Congregations (the predecessor to the Union for Reformed Judaism) and published in the The Critic and Record, 13 July 1876, on the fourth page. . . .

Prayer for Confirmation, by Rabbi Dr. Max Lilienthal (20 April 1881)

Contributed on: 25 Aug 2022 by Aharon N. Varady (editing/transcription) | Max Lilienthal |

This “Prayer for Confirmation” was offered by Rabbi Dr. Max Lilienthal on Shavuot (20 April 1881), a manuscript copy of which it found its way into the collection of the Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives, Cincinnati, Ohio. Many thanks to the Jewish Women’s Archive for providing a copy of the manuscript through their website. . . .

רִבּוֹן כׇּל הָעוֹלָמִים | Ribon kol ha-Olamim, a prayer for the government of the United States of America by Rabbi Max Lilienthal (1846)

Contributed on: 23 Apr 2022 by Aharon N. Varady (editing/transcription) | Jonathan Sarna (translation) | Max Lilienthal |

“Ribon kol ha-Olamim” was almost certainly written by Rabbi Max Lilienthal in 1846 soon after he arrived in New York City where he was elected chief rabbi of New York’s “united German-Jewish community.” It was first published in L. Henry Frank’s prayerbook, Tefilot Yisrael: Prayers of Israel with an English translation (1848) without attribution. In 1998, Dr. Jonathan Sarna elucidated its authorship in an article, “A Forgotten 19th Century Prayer for the U.S. Government: Its Meaning, Significance and Surprising Author.” In Hesed Ve-Emet: Studies in Honor of Ernest S. Frerichs, eds. J. Magness and S. Gitin, 431-440. Athens, Ga.: Scholars Press, 1998. . . .