Biography of Selig Adler

Commentary by Dr. Gerhard Falk


Selig Adler 1909-1984

 On November 8, we will comemorate the “Jahrzeit” or anniversary of the death of Dr. Selig Adler, erstwhile Distinguished Professor of History at the University of Buffalo.

It is unfortunate that the Jewish community is not acquainted with this great  scholar. The reason for this ignorance is, of course, the general contempt for scholarship in the United States. While European Jews held scholars in high regard, so that Israel Kagan, the author of Chofez Chayim, was known by the name of his most famous book, as was the author of Chasam Sofer and other great writers, we have no use for such scholars, as we worship the rich who dominate all our institutions and synagogues.

Selig Adler was born in Baltimore, MD on January 33, 1909.

The Adler family lived in Bavaria during the nineteenth century; some family members immigrated to the United States before 1900. Among them was the salesman Josef Gabriel Adler, born May 9, 1873 in Kitzingen, Germany. From 1893 on he lived in Baltimore, Maryland, and on February 19, 1907 he married May Rubenstein; he died in 1925. They had one son, Selig Adler, who became a professor of history at the University of Buffalo. Other family members included an elder Josef Gabriel Adler (1802-1873), who was a rabbi in Aschaffenburg and Immanuel Adler (1840-1911), rabbi in Kitzingen.

Selig Adler was born in Baltimore, Maryland in 1909. Except for graduate work, his entire collegiate career from student to professor was spent in Buffalo. A summa cum laude graduate of the University of Buffalo in 1931, he received the masters and doctorate degrees from the University of Illinois in 1932 and 1934 respectively. He was appointed to the history faculty of the University of Buffalo in 1938, he became a full professor in 1952, and in 1958 he was named Samuel Paul Capen Professor of American History and held the honor until his retirement in 1980. This accomplished historian, teacher, and scholar authored numerous scholarly publications and served the university not only in the classroom through his teaching and research but also by participating in numerous committees and appointed leadership positions. Among his published works are: The Isolationist Impulse: Its Twentieth-Century Reaction (1957) and The Uncertain Giant, 1921-1941: American Foreign Policy Between the Wars (1965). Professor Adler was also the co-author, with Thomas E. Connolly, of: From Ararat to Suburbia: The History of the Jewish Community of Buffalo (1960). In 1975 he was named a State University of New York "Distinguished Service Professor". In 1980, Adler became the archivist of the Jewish Federation of Greater Buffalo, and thus the archivist for the Buffalo Jewish community. He died in Buffalo N.Y. on November 8, 1984.

Shalom u'vracha.

Dr. Gerhard Falk is the author of numerous publications, including Gender, Sex, & Status (2019).

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