Calman David Matt (1887-1951), Papers.

  • Dates: 1878-1988
  • Size: 1.25 linear ft.
  • Number of Boxes: 1
  • 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: Gustine K. Matt
  • Date: May 14, 1990

DN, 5/14/90

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

Rabbi C. David Matt was born in Kovno, emigrated to the United States in 1890, and was raised in Philadelphia. After earning a BA from the University of Pennsylvania in 1909, Matt was ordained at The Jewish Theological Seminary of America in 1913. He subsequently did graduate work at Dropsie College in Philadelphia.

Rabbi Matt served at Adath Jeshurun, Minneapolis, 1912-1927; Temple Beth David, Buffalo, New York, 1927-1929; and the West Philadelphia Jewish Center, 1929-1951. In addition to his regular work as a rabbi, Matt wrote weekly "sermonettes" which were published in the Jewish press. He also delivered radio addresses, wrote poems, and arbitrated disputes in the Philadelphia Jewish community.

Rabbi Matt married Lena Friedman in 1913, and had five children: Leonard, Joseph, Herschel, Beulah, and Zelda. Herschel Matt also became a rabbi, and some of his papers are included in this collection.

Collection Description

Rabbi Matt's papers consist of correspondence, 1910-1951; writings, 1904-1950; personal papers, 1879-1987; material documenting the three synagogues he worked at and related professional activities, 1912-1951; photographs; and printed material.

Matt's correspondence begins with his years as a student at the Jewish Theological Seminary, continues through his professional career, and ends with his death. Of note are letters from Seminary president Cyrus Adler and professor Israel Friedlaender concerning academic matters.

The bulk of the writings are clippings of Matt's columns which appeared in the American Jewish World and the Anglo-Jewish Press. Also included are texts of radio sermons, 1920s-1950. These public writings treat both religious matters and matters of contemporary interest. Included are columns on the events in Palestine during the British mandate and events in Europe during the 1930s and 1940s. Tributes and eulogies to public figures, including President Franklin D. Roosevelt and to rabbinic colleagues are also included.

Of note are documents relating to Rabbi Matt's role as an arbitrator in the Jewish community in Philadelphia, particularly during a dispute among mohelim (ritual circumcisers). Also of note is a list of yeshivas in Europe and Palestine, 1930s, with estimates of the sizes of their student bodies. These reflect Rabbi Matt's efforts to raise money for the yeshivas.

Sparse records from Matt's three synagogues, Adath Jeshurun, Temple Beth David, and the West Philadelphia Jewish Community Center, include messages welcoming him to the community, honoring him when he left, and, to a limited extent, documenting his activities while there. The Temple Beth David material documents the difficulties suffered by one synagogue on the eve of the depression.

Box List

Box  Folder(s)  Description 
1-4 Correspondence, 1910-1951
 5-11 Biographical materials, 1879-1987
 12-21  Writings, 1904-1950
 22-24 Synagogues, 1912-1951
 25-28 Other professional activities, 1932-1950
 29 Printed material, 1911-1952
 30 Photographs