Date: December, 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.
Rabbi Arnold Asher was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1935 and reared in Passaic, New Jersey. Rabbi Asher received a B.A. from Yeshiva College and a teachers' diploma from the Teachers' Institute of Yeshiva University, 1957; a Masters of Hebrew Letters form The Jewish Theological Seminary, 1961; and rabbinic ordination from The Jewish Theological Seminary, 1963. Rabbi Asher also studied in Israel and at Eden Theological Seminary, St. Louis, ca. 1967-1978. In 1961 he married Nira Libai. He died suddenly in 1978 in St. Louis. They had three children, Naomi, Ruth, and Jaron.
With the exception of student pulpits and the Kingsbridge Home for the Aged in Passaic, New Jersey prior to his rabbinic ordination, Rabbi Asher's entire rabbinic career was spent in St. Louis, Missouri. From 1963 to 1967 he served at B'nai Amoona Congregation, first as assistant rabbi, 1963-1965, then as associate rabbi, 1965-1967. From 1967 until his death, Rabbi Asher was associated with Congregation Shaare Zedek, assuming the position of senior rabbi in 1971.
Rabbi Asher took an active role in community affairs, particularly in political and social action. From 1965 to 1966 he served on the Board of Clergy and Laymen Concerned About Vietnam, and was later involved with Breira (1975-1978). He also served as president and treasurer of the St. Louis Rabbinical Association; as a member of a budget committee of the Jewish Federation of Greater St. Louis; and on the boards of Jewish Family and Children Services, H.F. Epstein Hebrew Academy, and the Citizen's Committee on Court Reform.
For more information about Rabbi Asher, see: Don't Cry for Arnie, edited by Jack and Sue Reimer (St. Louis, 1979) an anthology of writings by and about Rabbi Asher.
Rabbi Arnold Asher's papers are divided into four groups: personal papers, 1962-1978; records documenting his rabbinic posts, 1963-1978; sermon files, 1963-1978; and subject files, 1967-1978 (all dates are approximate). The bulk of the personal papers document Rabbi Asher's studies at Eden Theological Seminary in St. Louis, and consist of notes, exams and essays, ca. 1967-1978. There is one file of class notes from Rabbi Asher's period at The Rabbinical School of the Jewish Theological Seminary, 1962-1963.
Also included among the personal papers are one file each of materials documenting Rabbi Asher's involvement with two organizations, Breira, (an American Jewish organization active in the 1970s committed to a re-examination of the American-Israeli relationship and the demand for the Israeli government to engage in territorial compromise for peace with its Arab neighbors) 1975-1978, and with Clergy and Laymen Concerned About Vietnam, 1965-1966. The Breira material consists mainly of printed material. The Clery and Laymen file contains letters from Abraham Heschel, Missouri senators Edward Long and Stuart Symington, and others, and background materials, publicity fliers and reports from the "March on Washington for Peace in Vietnam" November 27, 1965.
Rabbi Asher's papers also contain materials documenting his rabbinic positions at B'nai Amoona and Shaare Zedek, both in St. Louis. Records documenting Rabbi Asher's tenure at Shaare Zedek, 1967-1978 (the records date from ca. 1942-1978) consist of: notes, syllabi and teaching materials developed for adult education programs; his "Rabbi's Shabbos Binder," 1964- 1978; bulletin messages; congratulatory letters, correspondence, and other material dating from his installation as Senior Rabbi of Shaare Zedek, 1971; and notes for a speech delivered at the installation of its board of directors. Programs and other printed material for memorial services for Rabbi Asher are also included here.
Of note are copies of marriage certificates from weddings conducted by Rabbi Asher's predecessor, Rabbi Ephraim Epstein, 1942, as well as personal correspondence from Steven and Lily Schwartzchild and William Kahn (Executive Director of the St. Louis Jewish Community Center and later Jewish Federation). Included in his Israel file is a tape of a speech and question and answer session held with Senator John Danforth of Missouri at a 1978 community meeting.
A small section of materials, 1963-1967, from Rabbi Asher's tenure at B'nai Amoona Congregation is also included.
The sermon files, ca. 1963-1978, consist of both notes, drafts, and texts of sermons delivered by Rabbi Asher, as well as background information gathered by him. Sermon topics include Shabbat, Rosh Hashanna, Yom Kippur, Pesach, Shavuot, and Sukkot as well as Israel Independence Day, funerals, and Mothers' Day. Sermons are filed according to date of delivery. Manuscripts and typescripts of several speeches, articles, book reviews, and other writings as well as manuscript and typed writings are also included here.
Subject files, ca. 1967-1978, consist largely of printed materials gathered by Rabbi Asher reflecting his interest in community relations, Israel, religious, and other topics. Poems, notes, and photographs (some personal) are also included.