BAAR, EMIL N. (1891–1985), U.S. Reform lay leader. Born in Vienna, Austria, Baar immigrated to the United States with his parents at the age of two. He received his J.D. degree from Columbia University in 1915 and practiced law until 1951, when he became a justice of the Supreme Court of the State of New York. He served as chairman of the board of the *Union of American Hebrew Congregations from 1959 to 1963, becoming lifetime honorary chairman in 1964. He was also a vice president of the *World Union for Progressive Judaism.
Baar presided over the UAHC during the stormiest period of Rabbi Maurice *Eisendrath's controversial social action leadership. Although a moderate Republican in his personal politics, Baar gave strong support to the Union's bold positions in support of civil rights, opposition to the war in Vietnam, and admission of a gay congregation into the UAHC. He will be remembered especially for leading the Union through the deeply emotional and potentially divisive battle that culminated in the establishment of the Religious Action Center in Washington, D.C., in 1961.
K.M. Olitzky, L.J. Sussman, and M.H. Stern, Reform Judaism in America: A Biographical Dictionary and Sourcebook (1993).
Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.