Cyrus Adler

Cyrus Adler (September 13, 1863 – April 7, 1940[1]) was an American educator, Jewish religious leader and scholar.

Cyrus Adler
Cyrus Adler 001.jpg
BornSeptember 13, 1863 Edit this on Wikidata
Van Buren Edit this on Wikidata
DiedApril 7, 1940 Edit this on Wikidata (aged 76)
Philadelphia Edit this on Wikidata
Alma mater
OccupationEducator, religious leader and scholar


Adler was born in Van Buren, Arkansas, graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1883, and gained the first American Ph.D. in Semitics from Johns Hopkins University in 1887.[2][3] He taught Semitic languages at Johns Hopkins from 1884 to 1893. He was employed by the Smithsonian Institution for a number of years, with a focus on archaeology and Semitics, serving as the Librarian from 1892–1905. In 1895, after years of searching, he located the Jefferson Bible and purchased it for the Smithsonian Institution from the great-granddaughter of Thomas Jefferson. He was a founder of the Jewish Welfare Board, an editor of the Jewish Encyclopedia, and part of the committee that translated the Jewish Publication Society version of the Hebrew Bible published in 1917. At the end of World War I, he participated in the Paris Peace Conference in 1919.

His many scholarly writings include articles on comparative religion, Assyriology, and Semitic philology. He edited the American Jewish Year Book from 1899–1905 and the Jewish Quarterly Review from 1910–1940.[3]

He was president of Dropsie College for Hebrew and Cognate Learning from 1908 to 1940 and Chancellor of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America. He was also a contributor to the New International Encyclopedia. In addition, he was a founding member of the Oriental Club of Philadelphia. He was involved in the creation of various Jewish organizations including the Jewish Publication Society, the American Jewish Historical Society, the American Jewish Committee, and the United Synagogue of America.[3] Adler served a variety of organizations by holding various offices. For example, he was on the board of trustees at the American Jewish Publication Society and Gratz College, served as vice-president of the Anthropological Society of Washington, and as member of council of the Philosophical Society of Washington.[4]

Adler was a bachelor much of his life, marrying Racie Friedenwald of Baltimore in 1905, when he was 42. They had one child, a daughter Sarah. From 1911 until 1916, Adler was Parnas (president) of Congregation Mikveh Israel of Philadelphia. He died in Philadelphia, and his papers are held by the Center for Advanced Judaic Studies at the University of Pennsylvania.


  1. ^ Dictionary of American Library Biography. (1978). Bohdan Wynar, ed. "Adler, Cyrus (1863–1940)." Littleton, Colorado: Libraries Unlimited. pp. 3–5. ISBN 0-87287-180-0
  2. ^ Bowden, Henry Warner (1993). Dictionary of American Religious Biography (2nd ed.). Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press. pp. 8–9. ISBN 0-313-27825-3.
  3. ^ a b c Schwartz 1991, pp. 14–15.
  4. ^ Jacobs, Joseph. "1906 Jewish Encyclopedia: Adler, Cyrus". Jewish The Kopelman Foundation. Retrieved 30 April 2018.


Further readingEdit

  • Adler, Cyrus. I Have Considered the Days. Philadelphia: The Jewish Publication Society of America, 1941.
  • Neuman, Abraham A. Cyrus Adler: A Biographical Sketch. New York: The American Jewish Committee, 1942.

External linksEdit