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Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 0074 ACC/2805/03
Held at: London Metropolitan Archives
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Date(s): 1868-1921
Level of description: Collection
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Extent: 1.92 linear metres
Name of creator(s): Adler | Hermann | 1839-1911 | chief rabbi


Administrative/Biographical history:

Hermann Adler was born in Hanover in 1839 and was brought to live in England as a small child when his father became Chief Rabbi. He was educated at University College London, in Prague, where he was ordained, and in Leipzig where he gained a doctorate. In 1864 he became minister of the Bayswater Synagogue in London. He worked to extend the provision of Jewish religious education particularly in the east end of London and spoke out in defence of the Jews against hostile and prejudiced critics.

From 1879 until his death in 1890 Chief Rabbi Nathan Adler suffered ill health and his son carried out many of his duties for him. By the time of Nathan Adler's death it was widely assumed that Hermann Adler should succeed him. He was installed as Chief Rabbi on 23 June 1891.

Like his father Hermann Adler wished to establish religious conformity as far as possible and saw his Chief Rabbinate as a focus for Jewish unity. He preferred to avoid, not always successfully, the sharpening of religious discord in Anglo-Jewry. It was noted that in 1905 he attended the memorial service for F.D.Mocatta at the Reform Synagogue. His personal admiration for the scholar Claude Montefiore (1858-1938) survived their theological differences. Montefiore was kept on the Board of Jewish Religious Education despite the fact that he as a co-founder of the Liberal Jewish movement, which was to the "left" of the Reform and of which Adler was a sharp critic. Adler authorised some small modifications to religious ritual at the request of some synagogues under his jurisdiction.

Hermann Adler continued to work for the amelioration of conditions for Jews in Britian and abroad, in particular for Jews in Russia. He was very much at home within the upper echelons of late Victorian and Edwardian society: he was Vice-President of the Society of the Prevention of Cruelty to Children; a governor of University College London; and a committee member of the King Edward VII Hospital Fund and the Metropolitan Hospital Sunday Fund. Edward VII referred to him as "My Chief Rabbi" and made him a Companion of the Royal Victorian Order. Adler decided (as his father had done) that his ministers should be styled as "reverends" rather than "rabbis": there was only one rabbi and he was the Chief Rabbi. It was some time before he authorised the use of the rabbinic title to ministers within the United Synagogue. Hermann Adler had great admiration for things English. He was less than comfortable with the newly settled Jews from eastern Europe and they with him. Adler himself advised the lay leadership of the United Synagogue that his successor should be a rabbi more acceptable to east-end congregations than he had been.

Hemann Adler died on 18 July 1911.


Scope and content/abstract:

Correspondence of Chief Rabbi Hermann Adler, 1868-1921, relating to diverse subjects including education, legal cases, Jews College, shechita, charity and relief funds, Russo-Jewish Committee, the United Synagogue, administration, provincial congregations and marriages; and relating to foreign places including Australia, China, Japan, Palestine, Jerusalem, Ireland, Romania, South Africa, Russia and New York.

PLEASE NOTE: Records can only be accessed with the written permission of the depositor. Contact the Chief Executive, Office of Chief Rabbi, 735 High Road, North Finchley, London NW12 OUS.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

There are two series: ACC/2805/03/01 (General correspondence) and ACC/2805/03/02 (Miscellaneous correspondence).

Conditions governing access:

Access by written permission only.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Copyright to these records rests with the depositor.

Finding aids:

Please see online catalogues at:

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

Deposited as part of several accessions of material from the Office of the Chief Rabbi.

Allied Materials

Related material:

See also ACC/2805/02.

Publication note:

Description Notes

Archivist's note:

Rules or conventions:
Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions:
Description prepared in March 2010.

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