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A long playing record of Rabbi Abba Hillel Silver teaching, made in 1954

In 2016 an eBay search on "Abba Hillel Silver" found a treasure: a 10" long playing record created in 1954. Written and spoken by Rabbi Abba Hillel Silver, "What is Judaism" is a good sample of his teaching mode. There are no examples here of Silver at his most eloquent moments when he could inspire an audience and bring large crowds to their feet.

Shown below is the story from the front page of the May 14, 1954 Jewish Independent that announces that the record is available for sale to benefit the beautification of Ansel Road.

The project was The Temple's response to urban decay that had reached the western edge of its property. It bought and demolished some old buildings on the west side of Ansel Road and in their place created a well landscaped area that would protect The Temple and enhance its setting. In the summer of 1954 the area was named "Silver Park".

Arnold Berger    July 27, 2018


Below: From the Plain Dealer of  May 5, 1954
Rita and Oscar Bergman tell how the project began.


The 18 minute LP record has no bands (tracks). It begins with an overview (overture) of four minutes. A picture of an evolving religion is painted, the uniqueness and importance of the synagogue, what being a chosen people means, and our duty to improve the world.

You may feel that this "lesson" flows as a symphony might and that its finale is almost prayerful -- a benediction. If so, you may also understand how, at the end of one of his sermons, congregants felt wiser and inspired.

click to listen

Thanks to Seth Arnold website for converting the LP to mp3.


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