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Herbert Parzen

PARZEN, HERBERT (1896–1985), U.S. rabbi, author, editor. Born in Ozorkow, Poland, he came to the United States in 1909, earning his B.A. at the University of Michigan in 1919 and then entering the Jewish Theological Seminary, where he was ordained in 1926. He also earned an M.H.L. from the seminary that year and an M.A. from Columbia University. The seminary awarded him an honorary doctorate in 1972.

He began his rabbinate at Temple Aaron in St. Paul (1926–28) and then at Temple Ahavai Shalom in Portland, Oregon, where he brought new leadership to a declining congregation and also was president of the Portland Chapter of the Zionist Organization of America (1939–41). During World War II he moved to the East Coast to serve as rabbi of Temple Israel in Freeport (1942–44), and then as chaplain in the House of Detention for Women in New York City (1945–79). He also served as program director of the United Synagogue of America, New York City (1952–55); executive director of the Jewish Reconstructionist Foundation, New York City (1955–58); assistant director of information for the Jewish Agency for Israel, New York City (1958–60); and then at the Herzl Institute, New York City, where he was research associate and lecturer on Jewish history and literature (1970–83).

He was a contributor on the early history of Zionism in America to the American Jewish Historical Society and Theodor Herzl Foundation (1958).

He wrote Herzl Speaks His Mind (1960) and was the editor of Essays on the History of Zionism, Volumes 3–4 (Herzl Press, 1961–71). He also wrote A Short History of Zionism, (1962), Architects of Conservative Judaism (1964), and The Hebrew University, 19251935 (1974.)

He also translated from the Yiddish A Diary of the Lodz Ghetto by Sholom Frank and worked as the associate editor of Conservative Judaism (1952–55) and editor of United Synagogue Review (1953–55) and Rabbinical Assembly Bulletin (1954–56).


P.S. Nadell, Conservative Judaism in America: A Biographical Dictionary and Sourcebook (1988)

Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2007 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.