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09.12.03 Korn, Bertram Wallace, American Jewry and the Civil War, published in 1951.

Notes Concerning the Author

Bertram W. Korn was born in Philadelphia on October 6, 1918. He attended the University of Pennsylvania, Cornell University, the University of Cincinnati and Hebrew Union College. Korn was ordained in 1943. During the Second World War Rabbi Korn served as a U.S. Navy chaplain. In 1949, he joined Congregation Keneseth (Reform movement affiliation) in Philadelphia. That same year Bertram received a doctorate in Hebrew Letters from Hebrew Union College. Korn eventually became Senior Rabbi of Congregation Keneseth. He was awarded an honorary doctorate from Temple University in 1957. From 1959 to 1961 Rabbi Korn served as president of the American Jewish Historical Society. Bertram Korn authored numerous articles and several books including “Studies in Nineteenth Century American Jewish History.”

Our Review

Bertram Korn’s work is unbiased, comprehensive and exhaustively documented. The content of the book includes thorough discussions relating to rabbinical positions on the issues of slavery and the war. Additionally, Korn provides descriptions of Jewish communities in the North, South and West and Jews’ struggles for equality and dignity within American society.

Particularly noteworthy is the author’s inclusion of the wartime opinions espoused from Cincinnati, Ohio, by influential Rabbi Isaac Meyer Wise. Wise, editor of the Jewish newspaper “The Israelite” and future founder of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, Hebrew Union College and Central Conference of American Rabbis, was, although theoretically in opposition to slavery, essentially a defender of the South.

Other topics Rabbi Korn addresses include the Jewish chaplaincy controversy, anti-Semitism in the North and the South and Abraham Lincoln’s relationships with the Jews.

Availablity of this Book

The Jewish Publication Society, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania paperback edition of 2009 is still available for purchase. Used copies of the 1951 original hardback by JPS and subsequent 1995 printings by R. Bemis Publishing, Ltd., of Marietta, Georgia, may be obtained through Internet retailers.