20,000 Attend Funeral of Rabbi Adler; Day of Mourning Declared
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20,000 Attend Funeral of Rabbi Adler; Day of Mourning Declared

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Led by highest clerical and lay dignitaries of the state and city, including Gov. George Romney, Mayor Jerome Cavanagh, and their official families, 20,000 persons today attended funeral services for Rabbi Morris Adler, held at his own Shaarey Zedek Temple, in suburban Southfield.

The rabbi, who would have been 60 on March 30, succumbed Friday to a gunshot wound in his head, received 27 days earlier, when a young, demented congregant fired at him while the rabbi was conducting Sabbath services in his pulpit. He was taken to Sinai Hospital and had never regained consciousness. His wife, Mrs. Goldie Adler, was at his bedside when he died. His assailant, who had turned the gun on himself, died from his self-inflicted bullet wound in four days.

Both Gov. Romney and Mayor Cavanagh declared today an official day of mourning for the entire state and city. The rabbi’s remains were laid out in the temple last night, and thousands of mourners passed by the bier throughout the night and all morning today.

The services for Rabbi Adler were conducted by Dr. Louis Finkelstein, chancellor of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America; Rabbi Max Arzt, provost of the seminary; Rabbi Irwin Goren, Rabbi Adler’s associate; Rabbi Mordechai Halpern, of Temple Beth Shalom, Detroit, a cousin of Rabbi Adler; and cantors Jacob H. Sinenklar and Reuven Frankel. Interment was at Clover Hill Park, Royal Oak, Mich.

Every pew in the 5,000-seat Shaarey Zedek Temple’s sanctuary was filled when the services were begun at 2 p.m. More than 1,000 other mourners listened to the services over loud speakers in other temple halls and study rooms. Thousands jammed the streets outside the magnificent $4,500,000 temple dedicated in 1962 under the supervision of Rabbi Adler, following the services and reciting “amens” that came over other loud speakers.


More than 500 automobiles followed the funeral procession from the temple to the cemetery. Among the national Jewish organizations represented at the funeral were the Council of Jewish Federations and Welfare Funds, the Zionist Organization of America, the Jewish National Fund, and the Jewish War Veterans of the United States. The Israel Government was represented by Consul Aviv Ekroni of the Consulate-General in Chicago, and the B’nai B’rith delegation was led by Label A. Katz, former national president of the organization.

In addition to official delegations representing Jewish groups, there were also delegations representing Roman Catholic and Protestant churches. Archbishop John F. Deegan, Roman Catholic prelate of the Detroit diocese, lauded Rabbi Adler in his official mourning pronouncement. Lewis H. Weinstein, president of the Council of Jewish Federations and Welfare Funds, called Rabbi Adler “a giant in his leadership of our people and our nation.”

Rabbi Adler was not only outstanding among America’s Jewish spiritual leaders, but also a prime proponent of the ecumenical spirit in this country, as well as one of Detroits–and the country’s–leaders in efforts to bring about labor-management peace and sound relations between industry and trade unions.

Born in Slutzk, Russia, in 1906, the son of Rabbi Joseph Adler, he was brought to the United States at the age of 7. He studied first at the City College of New York, where he received a bachelor of science degree, and was ordained a rabbi at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America in 1935. He started his career in the Conservative rabbinate as the spiritual leader of Temple Emanu-El, Buffalo, N. Y., and assumed the leadership of Temple Shaarey Zedek in Detroit in 1938.

He became one of the leaders of the Jewish community as well as one of the outstanding citizens of the general community. During World War II, he served as a chaplain in the United States Army and, for a time after Japan had been defeated, served as the first Jewish army chaplain in Tokyo.

He was chairman of the Rabbinical Assembly’s Commission on Adult Education, and a member of the B’nai B’rith Commission on Adult Education. Locally, he was also a member of the board of the Jewish Welfare Federation. He was also a member of the Detroit Round Table of Christians and Jews, of the Labor-Management Citizens’ Committee, the Governor’s Commission on Higher Education, vice-president of the Community Health Association, and an adviser to the Wayne State University in this city.

A prolific writer as well as a noted lecturer, he was the author of Great Passages from the Torah, The World of the Talmud, and many monographs and magazine articles.

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