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Max Vorspan

VORSPAN, MAX (1916–2002), U.S. rabbi and administrator. Born in St. Paul, Minnesota, Vorspan was ordained by the Jewish Theological Seminary in 1943. During his senior year, he served first as assistant director of the Seminary School of Jewish Studies (1943) and then as the program director of the 92nd Street Young Men's Hebrew Association. Upon graduation, he enlisted in the army as a chaplain, serving in Saipan until the end of World War II. Discharged when the war was over, he accepted a pulpit in Pasadena, California, where he established the first Reconstructionist Congregation in the West. He then joined the Brandeis Camp Institute as an associate director, where he established a reputation as a creative administrator and popular lecturer.

In 1954, Vorspan was invited to become the first full-time registrar and instructor at the University of Judaism, which was then the West Coast branch of the Jewish Theological Seminary. He remained there for some 40 years, retiring in the early 1990s as associate professor of American Jewish history and senior vice president. Universally liked, he was instrumental in establishing the Pacific Southwest Coast Region of the United Synagogue, Camp Ramah in California, and the University's School of Fine Arts.

In addition to his classes at the university, Vorspan lectured widely throughout the West. He published a number of popular articles and cowrote The History of the Jews of Los Angeles.

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