David Aronson (1894-1988), Papers.

  • Dates: ca.1915-1988
  • Size: 6.25 linear ft.
  • Number of Boxes: 5
  • Languages: English
  • Location: Special Collections Reading Room, Jewish Theological Seminary Library.
  • Restrictions: Reproduction of fragile items is not permitted; consult the archivist about literary rights.
  • Gift Of: Bertha Aronson
  • Date: May, 1989

    RY, 1990

    Table of Contents:

    A Note on Folder Headings

    Individual folders are identified in the following way on the left side of each folder: Name of Collection, box #/folder#, as in Ben Zion Bokser Papers, 4/22. Please use this format in citations and when referring to files for any other reason.

    Biographical Note

    David Aronson was born in Vitebsk, Russia, in 1894, and came to the United States in 1906. He received a B.A. from New York University in 1916, and was ordained by The Jewish Theological Seminary in 1919. Aronson served as a United States Army chaplain, 1917-1919, while still a student.

    Aronson's first pulpits were in Salt Lake City, Utah, 1920-1921, and Duluth, Minnesota, 1922-1924. In 1924, he was asked to lead Beth El Synagogue, a new congregation in Minneapolis; he remained there until 1959. At that point, Rabbi Aronson moved to Los Angeles and became a professor of rabbinics at the University of Judaism. He returned often to Beth El Synagogue, and in Los Angeles he helped with services at Beth Am Synagogue.

    In Minneapolis, Aronson acted as associate editor of the American Jewish World, 1931-1959, and he served on the Minnesota Governor's Human Rights Commission, 1943-1959. He was president of the Rabbinical Assembly, 1948-1950, and a member of its Committee on Jewish Laws and Standards. In 1946, he published The Jewish Way of Life.

    Rabbi Aronson married Bertha Friedman in 1927. They had two sons, Hillel and Raphael. Rabbi Aronson died in 1988.

    Collection Description

    Aronson's papers cover the entire span of his career as a rabbi. They consist of: correspondence; sermons; biographical material, consisting mostly of clippings and programs from events in his honor; speeches; drafts of writings; notes; syllabi from courses taught at the University of Judaism in Los Angeles; and subject files containing clippings and other printed material. This material documents Rabbi Aronson's career in the pulpit, his work with the Rabbinical Assembly, particularly its Committee on Jewish Law and Standards; his professorship at the University of Judaism; work with the United Synagogue; and contacts with the Jewish Theological Seminary.

    Aronson's writings include copies of published writings, including "Our Changing World," 1912; "Women's Position in Israel," 1922; and "From Rib to Rabbi," 1987. Also included is a typescript of Aronson's book, The Jewish Way of Life, 1946, and lecture notes and an essay from Aronson's days as a student at the Jewish Theological Seminary. Published papers by other writers, presumably gathered by Aronson, are also included.

    Aronson's relationship with The Jewish Theological Seminary is documented by lectures delivered at the Seminary by himself and others; circular letters from Mordecai Kaplan about Reconstructionism, and information on conferences. Of note is a confidential letter from Aronson to Louis Finkelstein, 1944, outlining their differences of opinion as to how the Seminary was changing.

Box List

Box Folder(s) Description 
1 1-6 Correspondence, 1927-1988
 7-16 Biographical material, 1916-1988
 17-36 Writings, 1912-1988
 37-49 Printed material, 1930s-1980s
2 1-2 Printed material, 1930s-1980s
 3-20 Rabbinical Assembly
 21-24  Printed material (oversized)
3 1-19 Rabbinical material
 20-38 Sermons, 1920s-1980s
4 1-15 Sermons, 1920s-1980s
 16-17 Jewish education
 18-20 University of Judaism
 21-33 Synagogues (material from Beth El Synagogue, Minneapolis, and Beth Am Synagogue, Los Angeles, including records of weddings performed at Beth El, 1920s-1950s).
 34-35 United Synagogue
 36-37 United Synagogue Youth
1-3 Women
 4-14 Jewish festivals
 15 Holocaust
 16-20 Israel
 21-26 Jewish Theological Seminary
 27-28  Minneapolis