EXPLORE BY YEAR
— 1930s —
Your good letter of the 13th inst. reached me only a few moments ago, which indicates that it takes exactly sixteen days for a letter to come from Jerusalem here. I was happy indeed to hear from you and your plans for the more economic administration of the School.
What you say about the fact that the Institution has been built up on too large a scale interests me greatly. For some time I have had a similar feeling, and in particular I was quite at a loss to understand just what the specific duties of the housekeeper were. I am glad to know that you are proceeding to deflate the establishment as much as possible and that Helen is helping you in this. I know that together you make an excellent team, and that your labors together will not only be doubly, but trebly, efficient. You are proving together that what the Schools needs is not a good housekeeper, but is rather a first-class keeper of the Director of the School. And I know that this is what you have just now.
I was glad to know, too, that you are now getting more water from the city, and likewise that the rainy season has set in and has relieved some of the drouth from which you are suffering.
I am sorry to say that I cannot alter my decision with regard to endeavoring to obtain funds with which to carry on the excavations conjunction with the Hebrew University. I cannot describe to you how much worse economic conditions have become during the few months since your departure. Securities have fallen off tremendously in value and in earning power. And since at present we have practically no resources other than those which the investment of our Endowment Fund yield, and since with every passing day they are yielding less and less, we shall have to practice the most rigid economy this year, and undoubtedly for many years to come. While there is no prospect thereof at the present moment, things are developing so rapidly that there is no assurance that, by next year, we shall not have to accept another reduction in salary. I hope not. Nor do I actually anticipate it. But in these days we can never be sure. But we must do everything in our power to forestall any such contingency. I understand that the JIR is practically bankrupt, and has not paid the salaries of its Professors for some time. Likewise the Faculty of the Seminary in New York have taken a second cut in salaries. The CCAR, too, has practically no funds at its disposal, and could not possibly consider appropriating a penny for any activity such as this, when there are so many Rabbis, members of the Conference, without any position and any means of support whatever, and the Conference is constrained, therefore, to give them what little financial aid it can to keep themselves and their families alive. I am exaggerating the situation in the slightest degree.
From what Rabbi Wohl, who was there this summer, tells me, and I have read in various publications, Palestine is the one country in the world which is not experiencing a depression. And from what Rabbi Wohl says, the Jews there are the most prosperous and happy in the world. If such is the case, why does not the University finance some project for itself once, instead of expecting some American Institution to pay the piper while it has all the pleasure of dancing? If I could possibly manage it, I would far rather raise the money for a joint excavation campaign with the American School than with the Hebrew University. But as I said, I dare not attempt to solicit even a penny for this purpose.
The outlook for the year is promising. We shall admit only seven new students. Apparently, however, a very select group. Altogether we shall have an enrollment of approximately 78 students, with perhaps a few members of last year’s graduating class who have not succeeded in securing permanent pulpits, or who are holding only bi-weeklies and coming back for some graduate work. There may be two or three of these.
I was particularly pleased to learn that you have managed to make some progress upon your To’eval paper, and am particularly interested in ascertaining what the application of your findings to Deuteronomy will bring forth.
We shall start the Seminar as soon as possible, with probably only Sheldon and Sol in attendance, although we may let Allan Tarshish, who is holding a bi-weekly pulpit at Ownesboro and doing some graduate work here, sit in with us and look up all the references for us. This would be the beginning of his training in method. We shall, of course, tackle this year the problem of the War Legislation in Deuteronomy. I imagine that it will keep us busy for the greater part of the year. But I feel, too, that when we shall have finished this stratum, along with To’eval and the Mishpatim strata, we will have accounted for the greater part of the secondary material in the Book.
I have not been able to touch my article on the Samaritans since I got back from my vacation. However, I have about caught up with my work here, and am planning within the next week to get back to work upon the article, unless, of course, the work here at the College piles up too rapidly to permit that.
I hope that this will find you and Helen well and that the New Year will bring to both of you unending happiness and blessing, and the fulfillment of your dearest hopes, plans and wishes.
My dear wife joins heartily in these sentiments
With warmest regards, I am ever
The other day Jake told me that he had had a letter from you in which you mentioned that you had not received from me any reply to the letter which you had written to me and that it seemed to him that you felt hurt thereby. I am sure that I need not tell you how greatly this distresses me, for you may be sure that you are the last person whom I would want to hurt in any way. But why you should not have received any letter on September 15th, shortly after I had gotten back to Cincinnati from my vacation, answering your two letters of June 29th and August 17th, and then I wrote you another three-page letter on October 3rd, answering your letter of September 13th. You can see that this last letter of mine was a very prompt answer to your last letter. I had to postpone answering your first letter from June 29th, which reached me during the summer while I was in Ventor, N.J., because I was so fearfully crowded with correspondence during the entire summer. I hope that these letters did not go astray and fail to reach you, and particularly not the second letter, since there was a check for $200. enclosed therein. Be sure to let me know as soon as possible whether you received this.
As I wrote you in my last letter, it is entirely out of the question to attempt to raise any money now here in America to carry on excavations at El-Hamme. Financial conditions here are in chaotic state and are steadily growing worse. The market value of the investments of our College Endowment Fund, for example, have fallen off approximately a million dollars. We can continue to carry on our work only by practicing the utmost economy, and we dare not solicit funds for any purpose other than that of our most immediate needs.
And just because this is the case I was doubly pleased to received a circular letter from Professor Barton, saying that there was some money available, and asking me therefore whether I would favor it, but only on the one condition that our School conduct the excavation alone, and not in association with any other organization, not even the Hebrew University. Wherever our School has been associated in this way with any other organization we have usually done the work and provided the largest portion of the funds, and the other organization has invariably gotten the credit and the resultant publicity. We need as much publicity as we can possibly get if we are to meet the conditions which Mr. Rockefeller imposed upon his gift to our Schools. I have no doubt that all the Trustees will favor the project.
I was greatly interested in reading your report, all about your having discharged the housekeeper and of Helen’s functioning in this capacity. I imagine that at times he must pinch herself and ask herself whether it is really she. I am sure that four years ago, had you asked her what she thought of possibilities of her ever functioning as a housekeeper in Jerusalem, she would have thought that the Messiah would come first. Well may be he will come. We surely need him badly enough.
You will be interested to know that Professor Hempel and his wife are now here. They arrived Saturday night. He lectured before the Germanistic Society yesterday afternoon and gave a splendid exposition of Religious Conditions and Trends in Germany Today. He is schedule to lecture our College tonight on the subject, “The Realism of God in the Old Testament”. Both he and his wife are charming people indeed and we are enjoying having them here quite as much as I am sure they are enjoying being here. He was greatly impressed with our Library, which he visited this morning. Also he said some very complimentary things about you, which I need not assure you I was happy to hear. I have not yet had chance to tell him about, and show him that we are doing in Deuteronomy, but if the opportunity presents I shall certainly do so. He is to be at Sheldon’s for dinner tonight, previous to the lecture.
One final remark: that check for $200. was sent to you chiefly thorugh the mistake of Mr. Mielziner. As you will remember, the arrangements were that you were to receive the difference between the salary which you are now receiving a Director of the American School, namely $5,000., and what you would have received had you been teaching here this year, namely, $6,000. less 12-1/2%, or $5,250. In addition thereto, you were to receive an allowance of $1,400. for expenses. This means, actually, you are to receive from the College this year $1,650. You will remember that we discussed this matter in detail shortly before you left. In accordance with your request that $700. of the money allowed you for expenses be deposited with Dr. Iglaur, this is being done on the first of November, tomorrow. The remaining $700. will be available for you when you get ready to return home. You have now received $200. of the $250. still due you as the difference between the salary there and here, so that $50. will still be due you and will be paid whenever you desire it. I hope that this clear.
With warmest regards for yourself and Helen and all good wishes for both of you, in which my dear wife joins most heartily, I am ever
THE HEBREW UNION COLLEGE
OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT
December 7, 1932.
(Dict. Dec. 6)
Rev. Dr. Nelson Glueck, Director
American School of Oriental Research,
My dear Nelson:
Your good letter of October 24th reached me some ten days ago and brought me much pleasure as you can readily imagine.
Let me thank you very heartily for your congratulations upon the completion of twenty-five years of service here at the College. I appreciate this particularly since you and Mr. Oko were the only ones of either the Faculty or the Board of Governors connected with the College who remembered this occasion and felicitated me upon it. Little things like this mean very much and it made me very happy to know that you had not forgotten it.
I was delighted indeed to hear all that you wrote about yourself and Helen and about the work which you are doing; your account of the School and your administration of it was particularly interesting. In this connection I am happy to quote a sentence which Professor Montgomery wrote to me only last week about you, “A good letter from Glueck. I wish we could detach him from you for good (Glück) to Jerusalem” you may be sure that this gave me almost as much satisfaction as I know it will give you and Helen.
Your account also of the Shiloh situation was most interesting. It was indeed a high compliment to you as well as to the School that the authorities in Denmark in charge of the Danish expedition at Shiloh should have entrusted the supervision of this important work to you after the death of Dr. Kjaer. And unquestionably you did the right thing in closing down the work for the time being when you encountered the difficulties with Dr. Aage Schmidt. It is regrettable indeed that you could not carry on the excavations in accordance with your own plans and ideas. But under the circumstances there was nothing else to do. Perhaps the opportunity will still come before the year is over.
I was also greatly interested in knowing that you have come to share my view with regard to the possibility of cooperation between the Hebrew University and our College in archaeological undertakings. And I was also gratified to learn in the last report of the Directors of the School, which reached me this week, that there will be some funds for carrying on a small dig at least at El Hamme. I hope that you will be able ot carry it out to your satisfaction.
Also your account of the official tea for Dr. Cumming was interesting reading.
And of a particular interest was the little photograph which you sent me. I suspect that that frame-work on the camel’s back in which the maiden sits is actually an otfah. It is interesting too to note that it is borne by what seems to be a white camel. I wonder whether what seems to be the halter, or whatever it may be around the neck of the camel, is not of unusual distinction. That you could tell better than I, of course. I wonder if you could tell me more exactly where this was taken, and also what tribe this was. Could it possible have been the Ruwallah? For this tribe is known to still possess the otfah. I shall keep this photograph very carefully, you may be sure.
Your finances have been taken care of here precisely in the manner which you suggested. You have received the credit for $200. upon your debt to the College, and the first $700. has been sent to your mother-in-law as you suggested.
The other day I met Mrs. Ransohoff and Dr. Iglauer at a reception of the University given to the new President, Dr. Walters, and was happy to hear all that Mrs. Ransohoff could tell my wife and myself about what Helen had written about conditions at Jerusalem, how happy she is there, and pleased with the life. Mrs. Ransohoff told me that she as Mrs. Iglauer are planning to come out to Jerusalem on a visit in the spring. I know hoe pleasant this will be for you and how delighted both you and Helen will be.
I was glad to hear that you hope to finish the first draft of your To’eba paper. I cannot say the same thing for the paper on the Samaritans. I have had to put it aside. It was growing to such an extent and developing so many correlated problems which required treatment before the subject could be considered as exhausted, that I felt it was foolish to begin a new series of articles for the Annual before the old series of “The Book of the Covenant” is finished. The study has brought to light much interesting and valuable information. It will be of great service to us in our study of Deuteronomy. Some day I hope most earnestly to be able to finish this work. But the other things have precedence. After I put this aside, I determined to write a short article in the comparatively brief time at my disposal for the next volume of the Annual, as a continuance of “The Gates of Righteousness”. But this too, after just getting started, I have put aside for another consideration.
The financial situation of the College is growing worse from day to day, due to the steady falling off in productive value of the investments of our Endowment Fund. We are compelled to practice the most rigid and far-reaching economies, and it is by no means impossible that we may have to take another cut in salary next fall, although we are doing our best to fight this off. We shall probably therefore postpone for a time the appearance of the next volume of the Annual, and probably bring out only one Annual in the next two years, instead of one each year. This allows me a little more time. And inasmuch as the future of the Annual is rather precarious, I have come to the conclusion that the part of wisdom is for me to get back to the “book of the Covenant”, and at least get out the next part of that, even though I may not be able to finish the series entirely. So I have just resumed work on that, and to date have made no progress whatever. I hope though to accomplish something during the midwinter vacation.
We started our Wednesday morning Seminar two weeks ago an tomorrow morning will have our third session. There are just Sheldon and Sol, and Allan Tarshish is allowed to sit in and to do all the concordance work which we may need. This will be good training for him, He is back here, living in the Dormitory and doing quite an amount of graduate work, and in a very creditable manner, while he holds down a bi-weekly at Owensboro, Kentucky. We have already begun to find out some interesting things about the war legislation, and I am confident that this year’s study will lead to very valuable results.
In the College itself things are moving along smoothly and satisfactorily, and in the Preparatory Department especially efficient work is being done. In the Collegiate Department the work is, as you know, not so satisfactory, and some very concrete complaints are coming to me from the students with regard to the inefficient and wasteful work of Professors Buttenwieser, Mann and Diesendruck. I shall deal with this situation, I hope, helpfully before the year is over. I think that this will be the entering wedge which will enable us to open up the situation in the Collegiate Department and bring about more efficient work there just as we have done in the Preparatory Department.
I am glad to say that my wife and I are both well and we get the finest reports from Jean, Bill and the children. Billy, the older one, has started in to nursery school and is developing splendidly. I was east a few weeks ago and of course spent three very happy days with them.
I trust sincerely that this will find you and Helen well and enjoying your life and work to the utmost.
With warmest regards for both of you, in which my dear wife join most heartily, I am ever
There is an old proverb, as you know, that bad news travels fast. I have some news this morning for which perhaps the term bad is a little too strong, but for which unpleasant is perhaps not quite strong enough. Probably too, it is not traveling with the utmost speed, but none the less it is traveling rapidly enough, I am sure.
As you have probably learning from your and Helen’s folks, economic and financial conditions here in America are growing steadily worse and that very rapidly. As a result, the financial affairs of the College are in very bad shape. Our investments are becoming increasingly non-productive, and likewise a disturbingly large proportion of those friends of the College who contributed to the Endowment Fund upon condition that their contributions were to be paid in ten annual installments are finding themselves unable to carry out their pledges, at least for the present. The result is that, at the present moment, it seems quite certain that our resources for this year will be at least $30,000. less than had been anticipated last May, when the budget for the year was adopted.
We have effected every possible that we could, such as discontinuing the Summer School for the present, planning to postpone the appearance of the next volume of the Annual, for at least a year, and other radical steps such as this. In this way we were able to effect economies amounting to about $16,000., for this year. There was however only one way in which the remaining $14,000. could be taken care of, and that way by another and rather drastic reduction of salaries to take effect immediately, that is, in the checks which will be payable day after tomorrow. It was decided to institute an additional 10% reduction upon all salaries larger than $1,200., to be effective for the remaining eight months of the year. Accordingly, when your check reaches you, or in whatever form the money may be sent to you, you will find that a 10% reduction has been made. And now you have the explanation of it.
I need not assure you that the Board of Governors regreted quite as much as did the Faculty the necessity of this step. But it was inevitable if the financial status of the College was to be protected and definite assurance was to be gained that the College would be able to continue to operate in reasonable manner over the next period of years, until economic conditions shall have righted themselves. It would not surprise me at all if we would have to take an additional cut. and a quite substantial one, for next year. This will be determined in April or in May, when we see what conditions are, and what the prospects may be. We have, of course, no alternative but to make the best of this unfortunate situation and to realize that we are all much better off than the great majority of people, and even of scholars. Certainly our College is in better financial shape than any other similar Institution, and how they continue to exist and operate I do not understand. We at least have reason to be thankful.
One of the enforced economies was the discontinuance of our subvention to the Baghdad School. We are still maintaining our subvention to the Jerusalem School, and there seems to be a general consensus of opinion in the Board of Governors, as there is in my own mind, that we should continue that as long as possible. Certainly it will continue for the present year.
and now that I have gotten this bad news out of my system I may go on to other things. Outside of the financial problems, conditions here at the college are quite satisfactory. We have had to contend with a good bit of illness in the Faculty during the last two months. I seem to have started it by having your father-in-law take out my tonsils in the middle of December, upon the suggestion of the physicians that this might perhaps be the source of infection which was giving me trouble in my back. The tonsils are out, but my throat still bothers me a bit, and my back and leg are no better. Perhaps there is a physical depression also. But I am living in hopes.
Mr. Maximon was taken down with a bad case of the flu about the same time, and this developed into some rather severe trouble with the nerve in his left calf which confined him to his bed for a time, and after that mild case of pneumonia set in. He was in the hospital for some two weeks and only yesterday was he permitted to return to his home. He is still a very sick man and it will be some time before he will be able to return to College and resume his work.
Next Sol Finesinger had to have his appendix removed some two weeks ago. He got along splendidly and, I believe, is resuming his classes today.
There were the major ills. Minor disturbances are not taken account of in these hard times.
In this Wednesday morning Seminar we are making slow, but interesting, progress. We are of course dealing with the War Legislation, with Sheldon leading the discussion. And interesting and important things are coming to light each week.
At home I am making slow, but fairly satisfactory, progress with Part 4 of the Book of the Covenant, in which I deal with the Miswot. Here, too, unexpected things are revealing themselves constantly.
As you probably know, there has been a little reorganization of the methods of conducting the two Schools. I have been made Chairman of the Committee on Personnel of the Jerusalem School. If you have any suggestions as to future appointments or Professors, Lecturers or Fellows, I would be glad indeed to receive them from you, or any suggestions as to possible reorganization making for greater efficiency in the Staff. These, too, would be most acceptable.
We all read Helen’s letter which appeared in the Times Star. Just a day or two before it appeared, I had seen the copy of your letter to Professor Montgomery, in which you described the trip from your standpoint, and so I knew something of what Helen’s letter told me. But it was all very interesting and romantic. Needless to say I shall be glad to hear all further details whenever the opportunity may present.
I know that you are enjoying your work and that everything is going along splendidly. Now that you are to supervise the work at Jerash, you will have another golden opportunity to acquire valuable experience. I am happy to pass on to you a very sincere compliment which Professor Montgomery paid you some few weeks ago, when he wrote to me that he wished that they could keep you permanently in the work of the School at Jerusalem.
I trust that this finds both you and Helen well and everything moving along satisfactorily.
with warmest regards and all good wishes for yourself and Helen, in which my dear wife joins most heartily, I am ever
N.B. – After Mr. Maximon, I should have inserted on the list Joshua Liebman, our Heinsheimer Fellow, who went to the hospital about the same time for a severe operation for hernia. He has however recovered nicely and I believe plans to resume his work here tomorrow.
THE HEBREW UNION COLLEGE
OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT
March 1, 1933.
(Dict. Feb. 28)
Rev. Dr. Nelson Glueck, Director
American School of Oriental Research,
My dear Nelson:
I was delighted indeed to receive your good letter of the 30th inst. It reached me a few days ago. I found everything which you related therein most interesting and informing.
I was particularly interested in hearing your confirmation of Albright’s conclusion that the entire Jordan Valley seems tohave had no permanent settlement during the Israelite Period. The fact is beyond all question for not only does the Bible contain no record of any town or village in the Jordan Valley from Beth Shean to the Dead Sea, with the possibly exception of Adan (and that may be merely a reminiscence of an earlier Period), but likewise such Biblical references to the Jordan Valley as we have, all agree in representing it as a district overgrown with heavy brush and the lair of wild beasts. The question which interests me in this connection is why this should have been so. If there were fairly numerous and extensive settlements in the Jordan Valley in the Bronze Periods, why should a similar condition not have obtained in the Iron Periods? I have no answer to the question. Yet it seems to me that a satisfactory answer to it might be illuminating of other problems, conditions and tendencies in Israelite history. Perhaps you may give some thought to this.
A few weeks ago I had an interesting letter from Dr. Max Schlessinger, in which he expressed his deep regret that the College did not see its way clear to accept the invitation of the Hebrew University to participate in the excavation of El Hamme, without any financial responsibility to ourselves. I gather from this letter as well as from what you wrote in your last letter, that in the final analysis you would not have been so greatly interested in the excavations there, and particularly so since, if conducted primarily by the Hebrew University, the main interest would have been in excavating the Synagog floor and what was under it, rather than in excavating at the north-eastern angle where your main interest lay. At any rate, as you know, I refused the invitation, and the more I think it over the more certain I am that it was the wise thing to do, for an acceptance of this invitation would undoubtedly have obliged us, at least morally, to continue to participate in future excavations and of course to raise funds for these. And this is entirely out of the question. Furthermore, as you know, I am not so enamored of the Hebrew University that I desire, or think it wise, to affiliate our College with it too closely in any capacity whatever. So that is all ended. Schloessinger promised to send us a share of the finds which were made in the excavations at El Jerash, in which the College and the Hebrew University participated a few years ago. Of course, if there were any actual finds which had never been reported to me, our share thereof should have been sent to us promptly, and should have reached us at least a year, and possibly even two years ago. Schloessinger’s letter was the first intimation I had that anything had actually been found there. But to date, despite Schloessinger’s letter, we have received absolutely nothing. And I imagine that, in accordance with their usual inefficient methods, nothing will veer be received from them. I have no desire for any further participation of such a kind as this. Of course it does not make much difference whether they send us anything or not, because no matter what they might send I am sure it would have little or no archaeological interest or value, for, of course, they would keep the valuable things for themselves. And for this I would not blame them. Furthermore, should anything be received, it would have to remain boxed up along with all the other contents of the Museum, for the Museum is now definitely closed for lack of funds.
I am sorry to say that here in America financial conditions seem to be getting steadily worse. As I wrote you in my last letter, some four weeks ago, we have all had to take an additional cut in salary. And after further figuring on next year’s budget, I fear greatly that we shall have to take a third cut with the beginning of the next academic year. We will have reduced the operating cost of the College by practically one-third within the course of this year. But that seems to be hardly enough for us to balance our Budget as we must do.
As I believe I wrote to you in my last letter, Dr. Buttenwieser is to be retired upon a pension in the fall of 1934. And if he wishes it, I shall offer him the privilege of a Sabbatical year next year. I have not yet had the opportunity to discuss the matter with him, for he has avoided me very persistently during the last four weeks. I shall however have a conference with him day after tomorrow and shall then leave it to him to decide what he wants to do. I do hope that he will accept the offer, for it will enable us to begin the reorganization of the Collegiate Department just one year sooner than otherwise. So you see, you and Sheldon may be called upon to carry on more work in Bible in the Collegiate Department next year. I shall let you know definitely at the earliest possible moment and, in such case, just what courses I will ask you to carry, so that youmay begin to prepare yourselves as promptly and completely as possible.
Our Seminar work is proceeding quite satisfactorily. We are not sticking strictly to our main task of considering the War Legislation, although we are making good progress there, too. But we go off on various tangents which seem to us interesting and promising.
In connection with Part IV of my article on the Book of the Covenant, I am having to make a careful analysis of the Holiness Code, because of the contacts of the Miswot in Ex. 23. 1-3, 6-8 with those in Lev. 19. This has compelled me to consider the date, form and historical background of certain other sections of H. And this, of course, is necessitating a complete of analysis of H. of course, to a certain extent, my conclusion at present are still tentative. But with every new step forward the impression grows upon me that the H editors borrowed very largely from Pt, which must accordingly have been somewhat older than Hm though not much older. So far I have found no evidence whatever that there is anything in H except perhaps some borrowed material of no great extent in the early part of Lev. 18, which is older than the dedication of the Second Temple in 516. But likewise there is nothing much later than this. However, my task is far from finished asyet, and this conclusion may be modified in time. For the present it is tentative.
I know how happy you and Helen are to have her mother and you, and I am sure that she too will enjoy her trip and her visit with you, as much as both of you will.
My dear wide just returned the other day from a four weeks’ visit with Jean, Bill and the babies. And needless to say she had a most happy visit with them.
Otherwise we continue to move along in the same routine.
Founder’s Day will be celebrated on the 25th. Bettan will give the address this year.
I have not yet selected the speaker for Graduation.
Otherwise there is little to be added.
I trust that this finds both you and Helen well and continuing to enjoy your work.
With warmest regards for both you, in which my dear wife joins most heartily, and all good wishes, I am as ever
We are in Jerash. Our campaign began about a week and a half ago, with an interruption of several days for the Mohammedan feast of Dahiya, we keep the Mohammedan day of rest, so we are not working today, Friday. Jerash is a Circassian village, so most of our workmen are real Russians, who are completely different from the native Arabs, some of whom we also employ. I have gotten the expedition well organized now, and work is proceeding apace. I have engaged two architects, a surveyor, a photographer, some one to keep the record book and the accoonts, and the necessary cook, houseboy, etc.. I have, after long consultations with Horsfield, the Director of Antiquities in Transjordan, and Crowfoot and Fisher, both of whom have excavated here previously, outlined a program of work for the season, which I believe will accord with the desires of the Jerash committee back home. We have begun work on the south main arch, and have already made an important discovery. After moving piles of huge stones, we found that two pavilions with niches for monumental statues, had been built on either side of the two wings of the main arch. I have avoided difficulties that Fisher was beset with in Jerash. I am employing only Circassian foremen instead of importing Egyptians for the purpose. Fisher insisted that locals could not do the work properly, and that even if they objected to the presence of Egyptians, it was preferable to employ the latter as overseers. Maybe I have a congenital dislike to Egyptian overseers, especially during the Passover season. Anyway my Circassians are highly satisfactory and cheaper than Egyptians, and
we are on very friendly terms with the local community,- which is quite important. Mr. Horsfield approves highly of this policy.
April is suppose to be one of the hottest months of the year, but strange to say, it has been one of the coldest and rainiest. It poured yesterday, and is raining again today. It has been a godsend, however, for the country, because the necessary amount of rain had not fallen previously, and in Jerusalem we are already on short water rations. We are getting water only once every four days from the city, instead of every day. Here in Jerash we are very fortunate, because we have several wonderful springs.
In as much as the work here is mostly of an architectural nature, now that I have set the wheels in motion, it is not necessary that I spend every day of the week here. As you probably know from my letters to Montgomery, I am planning to make a survey of Bronze Age sites in Transjordan. Mr. Horsfield, or his assistant, will accompany me, and have promised me every possible assistance. Both the directors of antiquities in Palestine and Transjordan have been extraordinarily nice to me. It is a pleasure to work with them, even if the Palestinian one is supposed to be a terrible anti-Semite. Yesterday Mr. Horsfield and I rode to a Bronze-Age site near here, and examined some Dolmens and some peculiar stone circles. I shall first visit a many aa many sites as possible, and then decide where I want to make soundings. Perhaps it will be possible to ascertain which tulul could have been occupied by Israelites in Transjordan. That is really my main interest in this survey. Recently we were in Petra, and I made some small soundings there, together with the assistant director of antiquities, Mr. Head, and we established some interesting results about the Nabataean occupation of the place. I was able to point out that some pottery, which Mrs. Horsfield had considered Middle Bronze, was really Nabataean. Pere Vincent subsequently confirmed this opinion.
You will have received the Feb. Issue of the Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research. It contains a brief report of my el-Hammeh soundings, and several pages of excerpts of my report on Palestinian archaeology, which is appearing in full with the first 1933 issue of the American Journal of Archaeology. I have published a note on Gen. 4:11 in the last number of the JPOS. I have sent in to Albright for publication a full report of the el-hammeh soundings, and an article on the trip through the Transjordan desert, whose most important feature was the discovery of prehistoric rock-drawings at Kilwa in the Jebel Tubaiq. Abbe Breul cam in to see me the other day at the School, and was very enthusiastic about the prehistoric finds. He is certain that most of the rock-drawings go back to the palaeolithic period. In the recently published book of “Judaean Addresses”, Vol. IV, there has been published my address before “The Judaeans” last year on Recent Excavations of Jewish Interest in Palestine.
The question you raise as to why there seem to be no Iron Age settlements in the Jordan Valley although there are a number of Bronze Age settlements there, is on that has been bothering me for a long time. One thing seems to be clear, however, that whatever Israelitic invasion took place from Transjordan into Palestine occurred during the Bronze Age and not during the Iron Age. After the hill country had been cleared and partially settled, the Jordan Valley with its heat and malaria was abandoned and used purely for grazing purposes and farm land. The crops were stored in villages in the hills.
I have to keep an eye on the School, so it is necessary for me to commute to Jerusalem every once in a while, to see that things are running right there. The hostel is packed during the Easter week, so I have had to leave Helen behind to see that everything went smoothly.
I shall be happy to know what courses you want me to take next year. Buttsie’s possible retirement will make a difference. Have you been in touch with the University of Cincinnati? I should like to keep up the exchange work we instituted two years ago. In case you and the U. of C. authorities want me to continue teaching there in alternate years, I shall be prepared to lecture this coming year on the subject of The Bible in the Light of Archaeology. I am extremely interested in your analysis of the Miswot, and am anxious to learn more about it. You must be well on with it now.
I shall have to stop now and finish this letter tonight in Jerusalem.. After lunch I am driving in with Mr. Horsfield.
I didn’t get the letter finished last night anyway. It was bitterly cold driving in to Jerusalem in our open Ford, and in as much as we were considerably delayed by wet, muddy roads, it was quite late before we got in. this morning Helen and I went to the Holy Sepluchre Church, and witnessed the barabaric, beautiful, and amazingly interesting ceremony of the lighting of the sacred fire. I could write pages to you about what we saw, but will save the description till I can tell it to you some time soon.
I was glad to hear that you had been made Chairman on Personell of the School here. If the arrangement with Albright is to continue indefinitely, particular care will have to be exercised with regard to the choice of the Annual Professor, I should like to suggest that Dr. Fisher be given an additional half of year with pay in order to finish his Corpus. He worked very hard on it for months this year, up to the time he had to leave for Antioch, to direct the excavations there. It is, however, such a huge task, that he is really only about a fourth finished, and it is much more important than Antioch. A number of men could finish the excavations there, but no one can finish the Corpus but Fisher himself. I have gone through it carefully this year, and consider it a work of monumental importance for Palestinian Archaeology. Fisher, himself, may not agree with me, but I should like ot see the work of monumental importance for Palestinian Archaeology. Fisher, himself may not agree with me, but I should like to see the work at Antioch postponed until he has finished his Corpus. If he is not held down to the task, it will never be finished, -and that will be a great loss from every point of view.
Helen’s mother and Margaret Freiberg were with us for a month, and are on their way home now, after a short stay in Egypt. I joined them there for three days, not being able to stay away longer from the School. As you can well imagine, we were exceedingly happy to have them here, and I am certain that they enjoyed their stay. They saw a great deal of Palestine and Transjordan, going with me on almost all of thetrips that I had to make for the School.
I hope that you and your family spent a pleasant Passover. We were at the Schlössingers’ for the Seder, and had a thoroughly good time. Jerash, by the way, is the only expedition that serves Massoth on the table. I agree with you fully about your standpoint on the H.U. offer to participate in the el-Hammeg undertaking.
With warmest greetings to you and Mrs. Morgenstern, in which Helen joins me, I am, as ever,
THE HEBREW UNION COLLEGE
OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT
June 14, 1933.
My dear Nelson,
Your good letter of April 14th reached me, as you can readily understand, some five weeks ago, and has been lying upon my desk since then, waiting to be answered. However, today is absolutely the very first opportunity I have had for that. I have never been through a period as hard, trying and exhausting as these two months have been.
In the first place, the far-reaching reorganization of the College, compelled by the economic stringency, has raised innumerable, complex and difficult problems, many of which had to be threshed out by Committees. There has been an endless succession of committee meetings, and I have the feeling that there is not a little bit of friction in various directions. I am doing my best to straighten all these matters out, but there is no end of trouble, and one becomes discouraged very frequently.
The present status of affairs, briefly stated, is that Buttenwieser and Lauterbach will be retied on September 1, 1934, Lauterbach willingly and cooperatively, Buttenwieser unwillingly and with a persistent fight being made by him and Dr. Goldenson of Pittsburgh against the decision.
With regard to Professor Idelsohn, his physical condition is such that his physicians have urged that no definite steps be taken at present. I am inclined to believe, however, that by this fall he will be retired upon a pension, although that cannot be determined until after another physical examination which he will be asked to undergo in September.
On the other hand, an unexpected development has manifested itself during the last two weeks, of which no doubt you have heard rumors through Helen’s family, viz., that Dr. Oko is to marry Mrs. Leonard Minster after she shall have secured the divorce which she is now seeking in Reno, and that in consequence, so much opposition has manifested itself to this situation that Dr. Oko has presented his resignation as librarian of the College, to take effect upon September first of this year. This resignation will be acted upon at a special meeting of the Board of Governors, to be held in Chicago next Sunday, but there is not the slightest doubt in my mind that the resignation will be accepted. In other words, Dr. Oko will not, so it seems, be connected with the College after September 1st. This will mean, of course, a far-reaching reorganization of the Library, a step necessitated also by the fact that economic necessity has compelled the cutting of the Library Budget into half, or even a little less than half, of what it was. This, in turn, will necessitate a complete reinterpretation of the functions of the Library and its relations to the College proper. It may take some time for us to work out that problem satisfactorily and I fear that before all matters can be satisfactorily and constructively adjusted there will be considerable difficulty and unpleasantness to be encountered. Just what effect this will have upon Walter’s connection with the Library I cannot say a this moment. The whole matter is so recent that the implications therof are beginning to suggest themselves only slowly and gradually.
Furthermore, a particularly difficult and vexing question had been the complete reorganization of the system of Scholarships and Loans, whereby we will do away completely with loans to students and henceforth will award only scholarships. We have had endless meetings of the Joint Committee of the Faculty and Student Body during the year to thresh out this problem, and worked out what I regarded as a splendid system, which was endorsed by the Faculty unanimously, and even with considerable enthusiasm, and was likewise adopted by the Board of Governors for trial for a year, subject to the approval of the National Federation of Temple Sisterhoods, only to have the Sisterhoods withhold their approval and instead have them submit another plan leading to the same purpose, a plan which, in quite a number of respects, is better and easier to put into effect than that which was first proposed. This matter, too, will receive its final decision at the meeting in Chicago next Sunday.
Coupled with all this, I have had to carry very much of the burden of Mr. Maximons office, due to the fact that he is still ill, and has not been able to perform the duties of his office since the second week in December. His office will be discontinued on September 1st, and Dr. Englander will resume his old duties as Registrar. The Board of Governors will probably give Mr. Maximon a six-months’ salary to enable him to adjust himself and find something. He, too, is rebelling against this and claiming, though to my mind entirely without ground, that a grace injustice is being done him.
On top of this, I have had the problem of placing the members of the graduating class, a problem which seems, at this moment, incapable of complete solution. Of the twelve members of the class, only four are now being taken care of. I hope that if economic conditions in the country continue to improve as they have been doing in the last six weeks, with congregations realizing that it will be possible for them to secure the services of members of this year’s class for as little as $1,200 a year, there will be openings for some additional members of the class. But I dare not indulge in the hope that all twelve of them will be taken care of.
It has been a very difficult and trying year and I am glad that it is at an end, even though, of course, many of the problems still remain to be soled and others are solved only in theory as yet, and not in fact. You can see, therefore, that next year will still be a transitional year, and that the real reorganization will not being until 1934, when our Faculty will have been reduced to what I hope may be its normal size, and we can then take up in systematic manner the problems of improvement of the curriculum, particularly in the Collegiate Department, where it is so badly needed. Such being the case, I shall ask you, for next year, to take the following courses:
D Grade: Hebrew Conversation, Composition, Elementary Grammar, 3 hours
C Grade: Hebrew, 2 hours; Cursory Bible Reading, 1 hour
B Grade: Hebrew, 2 hours; Cursory Bible Reading, 1 hour
A Grade: Hebrew Grammar, 1 hour; Cursory Hebrew Reading, 2 hours a total of twelve hours, spread over four classes.
I am sure that you will agree with m that it is only fair to Sheldon that he be permitted to give Bible 6 next year, a task which, apparently, he has performed most satisfactorily this year. This will mean, of course, that, next year, you will have no work in the Collegiate Department, but, of course, that is merely a temporary condition which will be changed completely after this year. It will mean also that your work will largely be of a routine character, confined to the teaching of Hebrew be of a routine character, confined t the teaching of Hebrew Grammar and Cursory Reading. I am sure though that you will find the students with whom you will have to work excellently prepared, alert and eager, and that you will experience much satisfaction in laboring with them. And of course, you can look forward to a far-reaching change in the character of your work in 1934. I would have greatly preferred to have retired Buttenwieser this year and have started you and Sheldon on advanced work, but such could not be.
With regard to the continuation of your class at the University, I can say nothing at the present moment, for I have been entirely too busy to take that up. I shall, however, dictate a letter today to the President of the University with regard to that question. I have no doubt that they will wish to continue that arrangement.
I was of course greatly interested in all that you wrote about your work at Jerash, your methods of procedure, and the finds which you have made, and equally interested in your program for the remaining period of your stay in Palestine. I was also delighted to hear that you had been present at the ceremony of the descent of the sacred fire in the holy sepulchre church. I shall be eager to hear all that you can tell me about that, for you know how greatly interested in that theme and its far-reaching implications I have been for many years. It is quite likely that you can give some data of significance which I have never found in any accounts of the ceremony.
I note all that you suggest in your letter with regard to Dr. Fisher and the opportunity to be provided for him to finish his Corpus. This would be fine indeed, but action leading to that would have to be taken by the entire Board of Trustees, and not by the Committee on Personnel of the School, and it could be taken only upon the basis of a request from Dr. Fisher, or upon the basis of recommendation from either you or Albright, or from both of you. You might discuss this matter with Albright and if both of you are agreed as to tis wisdom, send in a recommendation to this effect to Professor Montgomery, with the request that he bring it up at the next meeting of the Trustees.
We have done interesting and valuable work in the Seminar this year in our study of the War Legislation of Deuteronomy and have reached some of the most interesting and precise conclusions as to date and historical background that we have been able to establish thus far. Everything confirms and elaborated conclusions which we had previously reached. We have by no means finished the analysis of the War Legislation in all its implications, and it is our purpose to carry on this investigation next year. It may be, too, that we will be able to take up likewise in the course of the year the scattered threads of the Toe’ebah investigation, and bring this, too, to a well-rounded and satisfactory conclusion.
I should also tell you that, for next year, salaries have been reduced by a straight cut of 24% from that which they would have been originally. This will mean that you salary which would have been $6,500, will be reduced by 25% or $1,637.50. This is of course a pretty drastic cut, but we, here, have learned to be satisfied therewith and to feel ourselves fortunate that it is no greater than this.
We are planning to remain close at home this summer, due partly to the fact that, with Mr. Maximon gone, I shall have to carry the entire burden of the business of the College, but also, and by no means to a subordinate degree, to the absolute lack of funds. Jean and her two babies are with us now and are planning to remain with us the entire summer. This of course is a source of much satisfaction and happiness to us. It is a constant joy to see those two boys developing so splendidly day by day.
I might write more to you, but every letter must end sooner or later. There will be much to talk about when you return. I am sure, however, that I will hear from you at least once before that time.
Rev. Dr. Nelson Glueck, Director
American School of Oriental Research
THE HEBREW UNION COLLEGE
June 17, 1939
My dear Nelson,
Your good letter of April 12th reached me on May 16th. But for various reasons, such as the pressure of work incidental to graduation and the close of the academic year, this is my very first opportunity to reply thereto. You may be sure that I read your letter with very great interest, and likewise the various news letters from you which the Schools sent out. By this time, of course, your work at Aqaba will have long since been finished. I hope that in every way you were satisfied with what you were able to accomplish and that you feel that this project is now ended.
Since your letter was written, world conditions have taken an unforeseen and very unfortunate turn. We here are all greatly depressed by the situation and I have no doubt that this is true in Palestine even more.
My primary purpose in writing to you is to represent to you as strongly as I can that we are counting absolutely upon your being back here in Cincinnati to resume your regular work at the College with the opening of the next academic year. Because of the lateness of the Holydays the entrance examinations which always inaugurate the new year are set to begin on October 14th. I must count upon your return. Just how you can manage this, you of course will know best. Unless the war comes to a speedy end, and it is not impossible that it may, there would seem to be little or no prospect of your being able to return via the Atlantic, for Seemingly then, your best prospect would be to return via the Pacific. But as I said, this you can determine best from information which you may be able to gather in Palestine. I must urge you, however, not to delay your return too long, nor to take any undue chances which may make your arrival here in ample time for the beginning of the academic year uncertain.
It is all the more important that you be here to resume your work with the opening of College because the Board of Governors at the meeting last Sunday refused to endorse the recommendation of the appointment of Simon Halkin as Instructor in Hebrew. They postponed action upon this recommendation from the January meeting to the May meeting, and then from the May meeting a special meeting held last Sunday. And then turned it down completely on the ground that the precarious financial condition of the College would not justify this appointment. This means of course that we shall have to get along as best we may and that we are in precisely the same situation once again as we were when you and Sheldon did the elementary work in Hebrew. I have had in consequence to completely reorganize the distribution of hours for next year. I shall accordingly have to ask you to take Bible I (which has been reduced to a 2-hour course by action of the Faculty), Bible 4, i.e. Job, and Bible 10, which will be your new course in Palestinian Archaeology, and also D Hebrew Grammar, 3 hours; C Hebrew, 2 hours; and B Hebrew, 2 hours; a total of 13 hours. I have had to relieve you of Bible 7, viz., the course in the History of Israel , and have Professor Lewy continue to give that course as he has done for the last four years. Otherwise the burden upon you would have been too great. I hope earnestly that this assignment of courses to you is not altogether satisfactorily. There is no alternative possible. I might add that the D Hebrew course ought to be particularly gratifying to you for we have admitted only four new students for next year, and they give promise of being an unusually fine and well prepared class. Their knowledge of Hebrew seems to be considerably above the average of an entering class. There should be satisfaction in working with a small and well prepared group like this.
We are happy to have had the privilege of having Helen with us for Seder. It is always a joy when she can be with us.
There is much more than I might write, of course, but time will not permit. these have been exceedingly strenuous weeks, but I am beginning to see day light ahead.
With warmest regards and heartiest greetings, I am ever
Your good letter of the 24th inst. reached me this morning and is being answered at once. I need not assure you that I will keep its contents entirely confidential.
I have noted with interest all that you say about Nelson and the possibility of his making his connection with the School in Jerusalem permanent. I have discussed this same question with Nelson very frankly and objectively here in my office in the last ten days. I think I can assure you that Nelson contemplates nothing for the future except a return to the Hebrew Union College to resume his work here, and to remain here permanently. I put to him the question whether he would not prefer to remain permanently with the School. It was obvious that, quite naturally, he has a strong desire to finish the work which he has already begun and which he can scarcely do in the comparatively brief period still remaining of his leave of absence. Also he is of course tremendously interested in archaeological work. Yet he seems to realize perfectly that to do this would necessitate his severing his connection with the Hebrew Union College completely and I am quite sure that he is not thinking of such a step. Obviously he is torn between two loves, but I feel certain that there is no question in his mind that since he must choose between them his choice will be to remain here at the College. This was taken for granted in our discussions; and in answer to my point blank question he said very positively that it was his complete intention to resume his work here at the College next September.
In the light of the contents of your letter I shall of course discuss the matter with him again when he returns here in December after the completion of his lecture tour. But I am quite confident that his decision will remain steadfast.
I can well understand how you got the impression that he might be tempted to remain in Jerusalem permanently if he were asked. This would naturally be inferred from his deep interest in and affection for the institution and the work which he has been doing in Palestine. But I am sure of the position which I stated above. On the whole, therefore, I do not see any reason why you should not continue, certainly for the present at least, to think of Dr. Engberg as Nelson’s successor.
Of course, should I be mistaken in my judgment, or should Nelson for any reason change his mind in this matter, the whole question would have to be taken up anew. What the attitude of the authoirties of the College would be in such case and after having continued to pay nelson $1,800. a year as part of his salary for a period of four years, which was in the evident expectation that he would return to the College at the end of that time. I cannot say at this moment. None the less I am sure that neither I nor the authorities of the College would insist upon a professor remaining here when his earnest desire was to work elsewhere. But I feel certain that this situation will not arise.
Should you have the opportunity during the next few weeks, as you may well, to discuss this matter with Nelson, I would suggest that you do so frankly and you may feel at perfect liberty to show him this letter if you desire. It is of course a matter of great importance both for Nelson, on the one hand, and the School and our College, on the other, that this matter be settled definitely within the next few weeks.
— 1940s —
My hearty thanks for your cable of the 28th ult., replying so promptly to my letter of April 2 to you. The cable made me very happy. It is good to think that you will probably be back here next fall, and relieves me of a great worry. The administrative burden is growing heavier day by day; and it is hard to keep the loose ends together. I need assistance badly, both in the discharge of the administrative duties and in the teaching. Therefore, I shall count upon your return in the early part of next fall.
I shall not present to the Board of Governors as its meeting next Wednesday the recommendation of your appointment as Assistant to the President, for I feel that until I can tell them definitely just when you will be back and could resume your duties, this would be premature. The Board will meet again in October, and that will be the proper time to make this recommendation. I hope earnestly that by that time you will be back here ready to assume all duties. Certainly by that time, we will know definitely when we may expect you to return, if you will not have already returned by that time. Were I to make the recommendation now, I am sure that the Board would defer consideration and ask for more specific information.
The plans for our Five Million Dollar Campaign are developing slowly but satisfactorily. Almost everyone seems hopeful of the outcome. Governor Lehman has consented to serve as Honorary Chairman of the Committee on Sponsors. We plan to perfect our organization during the summer months and conduct the campaign actively and vigorously during the four last months of the year. But you can see from this that I shall have to be away from the College for much of the time, and that therefore it is imperative that some one be here to handle the administrative duties, and also perhaps to do some traveling too, in the interests of the campaign.
Also there will be some Faculty reorganization between now and then. It will interest you to know that Dr. Heschel is submitting his resignation from the Faculty, and this with my knowledge and approval. It is not that his work has not been satisfactory. It has been, indeed. He is deeply and gratefully appreciative of all that the College has done for him; and I in turn am correspondingly appreciative of all that he has done for the College of his loyalty to it. But he has told me very frankly that he has gone just as far in the direction of the Philosophy of Judaism and its practice which the College upholds as he possibly can with an honest conscience; and he finds that there is still a decided gap between his point of view and that of the College. I cannot help feeling that the students, too, as well as he himself are conscious of this, and that the mutual relations between him and the students of the College are affected thereby. At any rate, he has not succeeded in getting’s close to the students as both he and I wished and hoped. And now, after five years of earnest endeavor, he feels that the only honorable thing for him to do is to withdraw from the College staff. I have agreed with him in this, and have even in our discussion encouraged him to this decision. I shall present his resignation to the Board at its meeting next week. That it will be accepted goes without saying.
In his stead, I am planning to recommend the appointment of Dr. Atlas as Professor of Jewish Philosophy and Talmud. Atlas has been an exceedingly successful and stimulating teacher. The students respond most enthusiastically to his instruction and speak of him and of what they get from him in the most glowing terms. I am also planning to recommend the appointment of Dr. Epstein as Instructor in Hebrew, and of Werner as Instructor in Jewish Music. Both men have been very successful in their teaching and after five or perhaps even six years of faithful service, Werner is entitled to be assured of a definite position here at the College. I expect the Board to approve of these appointments, although I anticipate that I may have to overcome some objections on the part of some of the Board members.
Last Sunday we held dignified and impressive HUC Convocation Exercises in New York City, at the Central Synagogue, and conferred degrees upon Mr. Joseph C. Hyman, Justice Meier Steinspring, Mrs. Felix M. Warburg and Mr. Frank L. Weil. In the even the College was host at a dinner at the Waldorf to about 180 guests. It was a splendid affair in every way. Bernie Bamberger acted as Toastmaster and did a wonderful job. Mrs. Warburg especially was thrilled at the honor. She was so excited when the exercises were over she even kissed me. All her children who are in this country, and also other members of the Warburg family were at the dinner in the evening. Gerald, her second son, told me personally how pleased and impressed he was with the entire day’s program. Mrs. Warburg, who sat next to me at the speakers’ table, spoke very affectionately of you and also inquired about Helen.
I had the joy of seeing Helen at some affair – I have forgotten just what it was – a few weeks go. She looked lovely. I have never seen her looking better, and it was, as always, a great joy to me to be with her.
Also one day this week, as I drove past your house, I saw Charles playing on the side walk. He, too, looked fine and healthy. Helen told me that he is reluctant to go to the Isaac M. Wise Religious School. Seemingly he finds it uninteresting. Helen told me that he said he learns much more from his father. This may be another urgent reason for you to come back home at the earliest possible moment. Your son is yearning eagerly for your personal instruction.
There is much more that I might say, for things are happening with terrific speed. But my time is up for today.
Your good letter of April 29 has been on my desk for two weeks. But, as usual, owing to several absences from the city during this period and the resultant pressure of work, this is my very first opportunity to reply.
I read with much interest everything that you wrote. I was particularly happy, as you know, to read that we may with reasonable confidence expect your return in the fall, even though you may not be able to resume teaching duties immediately. Of course, that question we will have to take up when you arrive. But I am sure that we will find some way to deal with the situation.
I quite agree with you that G. Earnest Wright or Harold Ingholt is much better qualified to function as Director of the School than Engberg. Just what the status of the School with relationship to Engberg is at the present moment I have not the slightest idea for, as you probably know, I have not been able to attend a meeting of the Trustees of the School for at least a year and a half. But I am under the impression that there is no commitment to Engberg, and that therefore if either Wright or Ingholt is willing to accept the appointment as your successor, it could easily be arranged.
Your suggestion of a combined HUC-ASOR lecture tour across the country interests me to a certain extent, and we certainly can discuss it when you return. But I must say frankly that, at the present moment, I have no great enthusiasm for it. Theoretically it may have a certain publicity value and also may provide the opportunity for you to come into a community into which otherwise access might be a little difficult for a representative of the College, and there contact persons whom we desire to reach. But I must say frankly that, contrary to our expectations, HUC has gotten almost no publicity values out of its loan of your services to ASOR. Apparently Burrows and his associates have unconsciously grown into the bait of thinking that you belong primarily to the Schools. Your connection with HUC is never mentioned in their publicity notices. Nor do they seem to have any conscious appreciation that they owe any obligation whatever to HUC. Moreover, in a lecture tour in which the lectures deal with Palestinian archaeology, quite naturally it would be ASOR which would hold the center of public attention and HUC would necessarily be pushed far into the background. However, all this we can discuss in detail when you return.
I might add that I have no objection whatever to your letting Burrows know that I am quite dissatisfied with the almost complete lack of acknowledgment or obligation to HUC in public statements.
Here at the College things are proceeding in the usual routine. The academic year is practically over. All the members of the Faculty have finished this year’s work. These last two weeks have been turned over entirely to Abe Franzblau. He is taking his two weeks’ furlough here and using them to give survey courses in Education to all the students of all classes, making his work of course as practical as possible. He is likewise holding conferences with individual students who have problems in Religious Education. He will be carrying on this program this week and next week. With that the regular academic year will end. But immediately thereafter the summer term for the students of the three highest classes who are licensed to serve as rabbinical replacements for men in Chaplain service will begin, and will continue for eight weeks, until the middle of August. Probably three or four men will be ready for graduation. We plan to hold the Graduation Exercises at the end of November, when we will celebrate the 70th anniversary of the founding of the College. We are planning to make that quite an important affair. We will also conduct a two-weeks’ Institute for Rabbis from June 18-29. I fear, however, that the attendance will be small, due chiefly to the fact that, owing to the pressure of work upon me, the notices have just gone out to the alumni. Likewise I imagine that travel conditions will interfere with the attendance. But we will make the best of the situation.
There have been a number of interesting and significant changes on the Faculty. Dr. Heschel has resigned and is accepting a call as Professor of Philosophy at the JTS. This step was taken with mutual agreement and good will. Dr. Atlas has been appointed Professor of Jewish Philosophy and Talmud; Dr. Werner Instructor in Jewish Music, and Dr. Epstein Instructor in Hebrew…all three as regular members of the Faculty. All there seem to be excellent teachers and to be well liked by the students.
We are still developing plans for our Five Million Dollar Campaign. These are maturing slowly. But we have high hopes of accomplishment. We plan to perfect our organization during the course of the summer and to proceed actively with the campaign during the last four months of the year.
At the last meeting of the Board of Governors, the Board approved my recommendation that $19000. a year be allotted to maintain Graduate Teaching Fellowships. It is important that we begin to train future members of our Faculty, for we may no longer count on bringing any from Europe. I have my eye on two or three men in Chaplain service at the present moment. Also there are two or three students who show some promise in this direction.
You will be interested in one development. You may remember that in newsletter some two or three months ago, you described your visit to the Dominican School in Jerusalem. I copied this paragraph and sent it to Archbishop McNicholas who is a Dominican, and who had once expressed to me his interest in the Jerusalem School. He replied, thanking me for having sent him this information and told me that he had lost track of the scholars at the School and was happy to have this information about them. He added that he hoped some day to send some of his young priests to study at the School. I wrote back to him and suggested that since he could not send any at the present moment, if he so desired the College would be glad to welcome any whom he might send to us, and to give them the opportunity to acquire a sound knowledge of Hebrew and, if they wished, of Akkadian. I had hardly expected any result of this suggestion, but to my surprise he is sending a very promising young priest to study here at the College next year. This is something of more than passing significance, for the Arch-bishop has always been rather standoffish in his relation to the Jews. We shall see what this may lead to. But you may find some satisfaction in knowing that the paragraph in your News Letter initiated all this.
I hope earnestly that this finds you in the best of health and spirits.
Cincinnati, Ohio, April 9, 1946
My dear Nelson:
By this time, I am sure you are happily reestablished in Jerusalem and, despite the growing friction and turmoil in Palestine at the present time, I am sure that you have been able to resume your work and are finding much satisfaction therein.
Here at the College things move along slowly, as usual, and fairly satisfactorily. No great substantial progress has been made as yet in our campaign for funds. But our program is beginning to take definite shape; and I have hopes that we may soon have some satisfactory returns to report.
I was in New York City over the week end to receive a citation for the Hebrew Union College from the Jewish Theological Seminary, at a Convocation held Sunday in the Quadrangle of the Seminary, in commemoration of the fiftieth anniversary of Schechter’s discovery of the Genizah. It was a happy affair in every way. At the same time, honorary degrees were conferred upon David Sarnoff and Rabbi Solomon Goldman.
My wife and I are planning to return to New York next Friday in order to spend Pesach with the children and also that I may deliver the “Jeannette Miriam Goldberg Memorial Lectures” at Union Theological Seminary, April 23-26. I plan to attend the meeting of the American Oriental Society at the same time and present a paper on the theme “Gethsemane”.
My primary purpose in writing to you today is to remind you of the understanding which we reached before your departure: that you would let me know at some time during the course of this month what your decision would be with regard to succeeding me as President of the College. I am happy to say that I am feeling quite well, but I still tire very quickly; and the burden of the Office is becoming increasingly heavy. I would like to be relieved and to revert, if I will be permitted to do so, to a teaching role. I would like to present my resignation to the Board of Governors at its meeting, next October. But, for many reasons, I will be able to do this only if it is definitely known, to at least a few in the inner circle, who is to become my successor. I would not dare present my resignation without this matter being fairly well determined in advance for, otherwise, the Office might become a political football, which would work to the great harm of the College, as you can see. If, therefore, your decision to become my successor, I will present my resignation next October, to become effective in September, 1947. If, however, your decision will be not to accept the Office, then I may have to hold on longer, while we look further for a suitable man for the responsible position.
I know that you will understand that I do not wish to influence you unduly in your decision. At your present stage of life, this is a much more momentous decision for you than it is for me at my stage. You must make your decision entirely without regard to me. I know that you would do any service for me that I might ask of you. I now that you would do any service for me that I might ask of you. But please remember that you must not think of this, in any sense whatever, as a service to me, but only as a service to the College, your Alma Mater, and to the Jewish cause. It will entail much sacrifice upon your part, as well as bring to you many compensating rewards. It is a service which has innumerable gratifications. I know that you will weigh all these considerations carefully and will give me your well-considered answer. I would be happy if I could have it at the earliest possible moment.
Please remember me to Dr. Magnes and to any other friends I may have in Jerusalem.
With affectionate greetings, I am ever
THE HEBREW UNION COLLEGE
May 6, 1946
Professor Nelson Glueck
American School of Oriental Research
My dear Nelson:
Your letter of April 10th reached me the other day and, you may be sure, was most welcome. My last letter to you will have reached you after your letter was written. I read with much interest all that you wrote, and even though your letter was necessarily brief, it told me very much.
But, unfortunately, it did not tell me the thing I was most eager to hear. I can well understand the persistent difficulty which you experience in making up your mind. And yet it must be made up by you sooner or later. I do not wish to hasten you unduly. If you need more time in which to reach a decision, you should, of course, have it. But I must say to you frankly that I am very tired and with each passing day become more eager to relinquish my present post. Under any condition I shall have to carry on for next year, I suppose. But how I will be able to do it without proper assistance, I do not see.
It will be necessary for me, at least, during the first semester, to travel extensively for the purpose of building up our Foundation Fund. I shall have to spend quite a bit of time in New York City and am likewise planning an intensive trip to the West Cost for this same purpose, which will probably keep me away from the College for at least six weeks, if not longer. Moreover, as I have said, I am very tired. Although both Drs. Greenebaum and Weis advise strongly that I take a complete rest this summer, they themselves know just as well as I do that this is impossible. The burdens of administration must be carried during the summer time and the vacation period as throughout the rest of the year, and they lighten then only slightly.
I look forward therefore to next year with not a little anxiety. You will understand, therefore, my eagerness to retire at the earliest possible moment. But this I dare not do until it is fairly well determined who my successor is going to be. The College cannot afford to have the Presidency of it made a football to be kicked around by many, for the most part, unjustified, aspirants for the position. To this I know you will agree. It is very important, therefore, that the authorities of the College should not have to look too far nor too long, after my retirement is announced, for them, in turn to announce who the next President will be. I am certain that you will understand and agree as to the wisdom and even the necessity of the program which I have thus outlined.
These will be interesting and I am sure exceedingly difficult days in Jerusalem and throughout all of Palestine and Transjordan. Both Jews and Arabs will be in great turmoil. I am sure, however, that you will act with your usual discernment and effectiveness and escape all trouble, and perhaps even be a source of real service in the crisis. But be sure to take no chances. With heartiest greetings and all good wishes, I am, ever,
May 24, 1946
Dear Dr. Morgenstern:
I have your letters of April 9 and May 6. I have delayed answering because I have been and still am thinking about the presidency. I agree completely that you must, under the circumstances, be on the look-out for a successor, and that you cannot wait till the last minute to let that important office become a political football or be squabbled over by persons motivated by personal aggrandizement.
I have been wondering if you know all the negative things about myself which I do, and which, unless I could overcome them, would militate against my fulfilling the hopes you entertain for me.
Whatever success I may have achieved in academic life, in the investigation of the past of Israel and the interpretation of parts of the Bible in that connection, I attribute in large measure to the training and impetus and direction which you have given me. You have been a magnificent teacher, and I shall always regard myself as your pupil. I have learned from you the meaning of academic integrity and acquired through you the love of the Torah, and the appreciation of the standards that go with it. In that sense, I think, that perhaps I might be qualified to attempt to follow in your footsteps.
But the presidency today and particularly tomorrow requires much more, for which I have neither qualification nor predilection.
The new president must be the center of a long and difficult money raising campaign. I have never raised a penny in my life. Such connections as I may have outside of Cincinnati are with people who have either given the College as much as they intend to, or have other interests. I have no illusions about my ability to raise funds, but I am afraid others have.
The new president must be an able and active administrator. I have run the affairs of the ASOR here in Jerusalem, but that is a far cry from the HUC, with its multifarious problems and expanding activities. And I have thus far in my career shunned committees, avoided conventions, and eschewed administrative responsibilities to as great a degree as possible.
The new president should be something of a philosopher and public speaker of the type, say, of Joshua Liebman. I am nothing of that.
I am full of unpublished books which no one else can write for me.
These are some of the perplexities which have been confounding me. At the very beginning of August, I shall send you a clear cut reply one way or another, provided that by that time you have not fortunately found some one satisfactory to you who is not hindered by the same hesitancies that afflict me.
P.S. I am taking the liberty of sending Dr. Weiss a copy of this letter in lieu of a separate reply to his letter which arrived at the time of yours of April 9th
Your letter of May 25th reached me in good times. I have read it carefully, and understandingly. However, it still leaves me so completely up in the air with regard to your real desires and purposes, that I took the liberty of asking Helen to come to my house this morning for a brief conference. I explained the situation to her in great detail, and she in turn will make it perfectly clear to you when she comes out to Jerusalem next month.
I can understand perfectly well your difficulty in reaching a decision with regard to the Presidency. I appreciate all that you say with regard to your own limitations, which you suggest you know better than I can possibly know them. That may all be. I grant that the administration of the School in Jerusalem is a much simpler and easier matter than the administration of the College, particularly under its new circumstances and with its expanded program. But you have administered the School ably and with distinction, probably more ably and efficiently than any of your predecessors. This will have been, therefore, excellent training for you in the administration of a larger and more complex institution. I have full confidence in your ability to administer the Hebrew Union College most efficiently, provided, of course, you really desire the position and your heart is in it.
I have scanned the lists thoroughly and believe that, for many reasons, you are the best qualified person for this position and should be placed, therefore, first upon the list of those who might be considered.
I understand perfectly that the real difficulty in reaching a decision is not at all a mistrusting of your own powers and abilities, but it is rather the indecision as to whether you are willing to sacrifice your work and career as an archaeologist for this post. That you would have to make this sacrifice, at least in very large measure, is beyond question. The duties of the office are becoming more complex and burdensome with every year. You would probably be able to find some time for scientific writing and for the coordination of your scientific research. But your present program of archaeological exploration would certainly be at an end, if you accept this office. It is a position which demands almost the full time of a man, twelve months of the year, with, at the most, time for only a relatively brief vacation in the summer. These facts must be acknowledged and faced squarely.
Let me repeat what I have said to you frequently before. I have no desire whatever to force you into the position or into the acceptance of a duty which may be in itself distasteful to you. If your decision is in the negative, it will be almost as satisfactory to me as if it is in the affirmative. But it is important that I have a definitive answer from you at the earliest possible moment, so that if your answer is in the affirmative, I may know that I may rely upon you for next year and can begin to make plans accordingly: and if your decision is in the negative, so that I may make other but very necessary plans.
It is imperative that I have systematic and official assistance next year. I can no longer carry the burden of this office alone. The work of soliciting for the Foundation Fund will necessitate my being away from the College for several months at a time, in all likelihood. The College cannot run itself in my absence, nor should it be expected to go along with the kind of administration which it had during my illness. I have no right to lay this burden again upon Sheldon, Jake and others, even though, I am sure, that they would undertake it and carry it willingly once again as they did last year. They have their own regular duties, which demand their full time and attention, and should not be overburdened with this present task.
Sooner or later, a Dean will have to be appointed who will look after the business of internal administration, particularly when the President of the College is away. I am trying earnestly to make no such appointment as this, nor any other appointments, which might embarrass the next President. I am trying earnestly, above all else, to protect the position for you, should you desire it, and to leave you free to reorganize the work as you see best and to make your own appointments. But this lays upon me too great a burden. I have carried it patiently this year. But I cannot carry it another year.
If your answer is in the affirmative, I shall plan for you a relatively light teaching schedule for next year, probably only one course each semester, of four hours of teaching through the year, so that you may be free to assume other duties of administration. But if your answer is No, then I shall probably have to ask the Board of Governors to authorize the appointment of a Dean, so that I may be free to carry on the outside tasks.
Also, if your answer is in the negative, it is imperative that the authorities of the College begin to look immediately for another worthy candidate for the position. I am determined to retire at the end of the next academic year, that is, in 1947. I feel that my recent illness has taken something out of me. Moreover, the state of my wife’s health is such that I am loath to leave her alone at home as much as is necessary for the proper discharge of the duties of the Presidency of the College. It means, speaking squarely, that both of us are getting old and the time has come for us to lighten our burden and to make the most of the years still remaining to us. For this reason, I should be expected to carry the burden of this office for no more than one additional year. For this reason, it is imperative that the Board of Governors and I know at the earliest possible moment who my successor is to be.
I had hoped, most earnestly, that I could have your final decision long before this. The situation will not be one whit different six months from now then it is now, either for you or for me, or, for that matter, for the College as well. I think, therefore, with all consideration for the difficulty of your position, that it is just as possible for you to reach a definitive decision now as it will be two months from now, or six months from now; and I think, too that you owe this duty of reaching a definitive decision to yourself, to the College and to me personally.
I can well understand that you will wish to talk this matter over thoroughly and for the last time with Helen and that, therefore, you would prefer to defer your decision until she arrives in Jerusalem. If so, then I shall be content with that. But as I explained to her this morning, I do hope earnestly that you will cable your decision to me before the end of July and that it will be a clear-cut and decisive answer: Yes or No. I regret earnestly that I must ask this of you so urgently. But the time has come when the decision cannot be postponed.
Please consider this carefully. I am sure you will understand.
With affectionate greetings, I am, ever,
I shall not write today with regard to present conditions in Palestine.
I have been wrestling long with the pros and cons connected with the tentative offer of the Presidency of HUC, to take effect September 1947, after you have retired. You know that so far as I am concerned, nothing would delight me more than to have you continue for a few years longer. I have made up my mind to accept the offer, and devote whatever talents I may have, with all my energy, to fulfilling the grave responsibilities connected with that office. I cannot escape the compulsion of a moral imperative with which I seem to be confronted and I shall do my very best to follow you and to hold up and carry forward the great traditions of the College, in the name of the Lord!
I cannot, however, leave here immediately. I am in the midst of the completion of the final volume of my Explorations in Eastern Palestine, which represents the summation of many years work and the conclusion of a very definite chapter in my life. I cannot do this work elsewhere, and it will require my presence here till the end of 1946. Come what may. I am anxious to finish that job. The other books can wait and be finished in America. I hope it will be possible for you to permit me to carry out this plan. I realize that I am asking a great deal. This will enable me alas to guide this School have through the next four months, break in Jeffery to succeed me for the rest of the year, and give the Fellows a start. There are other matters that need to be discussed. I think that the new president should be a member ex-office of the governing body of the UAHC, and be allowed to vote, if he so desires, on every one of its committees. His salary should be no less than that of the Director of the UAHC for all kinds of reason except the immediate financial one which is not important. The new president should have the possibility of appointing a competent executive assistant at a full professor’s salary. There are other matters that I have thought of, which I can discuss together with these in detail in a later letter, after I have heard from you again.
Helen and Charles arrived on July 15 in Cairo. I met them, and we flew here the same day. Their return tickets are dated September 30th. I shall follow them home, God willing, three months later.
With very best wishes for the rest of the summer to you and Mrs. Morgenstern from the three of us,
I remain, as ever,
Your good letter of August 15 reached me a few days ago. As you can readily imagine, it made me very happy. I was delighted that you had finally, afer thinking the matter through in a responsible manner, reached the decision to accept the Presidency of the College upon my retirement and, of course, with the reservation that the Board of Governors will tender the position to you, as I am certain absolutely that they will. This relieves me of a very great and steadily growing worry. As the days pass, I become more and more eager for my retirement. While, thank God, I am feeling quite well again, I cannot shut my eyes to the fact that my recent illness seems to have taken something out of me. I do not have my old vitality and I seem to tire rather quickly. When nightfall comes, after a steady day’s work, my brain seems absolutely numb, and I find it difficult to stay awake. A good night’s sleep refreshes me and I am able to work steadily through the next day – only, however, to have the same conditions repeated when night comes. It is high time, therefore, that I relieve myself of the steadily growing burden of this lofty and responsible position and turn it over to younger and more capable hands. For that reason your decision relieves me of worry and makes me very happy.
I have discussed the matter confidentially with Dr. Weiss, Chairman of the Board, and he sees eye to eye with me in this matter. We both feel the conditions which you stated in your letter are responsible and proper in the main. You seem to imagine, however, that the President of the College is not a member ex officio of the Board of Governors, with voting powers. In this surmise you are mistaken. For the last twenty years, ever since the College was chartered as an independent institution, the President has been ex officio a regular member of the Board of Governors with full voting powers, and serves on almost every Committee, at least every Committee which he desires, with full voting powers on these Committees. He is likewise Chairman of the Committee on Admissions.
You suggestion with regard to salary is proper, and is fully approved by Dr. Weiss, Chairman of the Board, and I am sure will be approved by the Board of Governors itself.
As for the appointment of an Executive Assistant, that is a mere detail. Sooner or later it will have to come. Personally, I think it would be wiser for you to discharge the duties of the Office for the year at least without any Assistant at all, until you have everything well in hand and know precisely what particular duties you could delegate most profitably to such an Assistant and how, in your judgment, these matters should be handled. Of course, during this period, should God permit me, and you so desire. Of course, during this period, should God permit me, and you so desire, I would be here to give you whatever assistance I could out of my own experience. But under any condition that is a matter for you to work out with the Board of Governors; and I am certain that there will no difficulty therein.
I quite agree with you that, if you can finish your immediate task in Palestine by January 1, 1947, you should have the opportunity for, of course, we cannot close our eyes to the fact that, once you become President of the College, there is no telling when your first opportunity to revisit Palestine may come. I myself have been eager to go to Palestine on a visit for the last fifteen years at least, and the opportunity has never offered itself. I am accordingly, in my report to the Board of Governors at its meeting on September 16, recommending that you be granted an extension of your leave of absence until February first. This will enable you to remain in Palestine a short while longer even than you specified in your letter. It is of course important that you be back here at the College by February 17, when the second semester will begin.
Things are moving along quietly, but satisfactorily. We are now preparing for another and, I hope, a very good year. I would like this last year of my Presidency to be fruitful in every way.
I note that Helen and Charles are scheduled to leave for home, by plane, on September 30. You may be sure that we will give them a warm welcome when they arrive. I am eager to hear the many matters of interest, both with regard to yourself personally, and the present conditions in Palestine, which Helen will undoubtedly have to tell.
With heartiest greetings for all three of you and the earnest wish and prayer that the New Year may bring to all of you abundant happiness and blessing, I am ever
Cincinnati, September 17, 1946
My dear Nelson:
I am very happy to be able to tell you that, at the meeting of the Board of Governors of the College, Sunday and yesterday, I submitted my request for the privilege of retiring from the Presidency of the College, to become effective on July 1, 1947, when the present academic and fiscal year ends and the new year begins. The Board did not act upon my request immediately as I thought they would do, for they felt that it would be unseemly for them to seem to accede to my request with too much alacrity. But they assured me that they would do whatever I requested of them – and my request was of course clearly stated in my letter. So things are now definitely settled. A Committee will be appointed immediately to select a successor to me; and the Committee is very desirous of being able to make a specific recommendation to the Board of Governors at its next quarterly meeting, which will be schedule for the latter part of January.
The Board of Governors, I am happy to inform you, approved of my recommendation that the leave-of-absence be extended to February first. However, in view of the fact that the Committee of the Board charged with the task of selecting a successor to me will certainly wish to discuss matters with you in detail, and as you will also wish to discuss them with this Committee, let me urge you as strongly as I can to so shape your plans and guide your work that you may be able to be back here by January first. Your leave-of-absence would of course still continue, actually, to the end of the first semester, which really is about the middle of February. You would therefore be able to work more or less quietly, at home, here, for four to six weeks after your return. But it is of utmost importance to the College that the election of a successor to me be acted upon by the Board at its January meeting. To have to defer this until the May meeting would be entirely too late. I am sure that you will agree to the wisdom of this, and will so organize your work that you can be here in Cincinnati by January first.
Let me close this letter with the earnest wish that this New Year may bring to you, Helen and Charles unending happiness and blessing and the fulfillment of your innermost wishes and aspirations.
With affectionate greetings, I am ever
I have your letters of Sept. 5 and 17.
Your request to the Board of Governors of the College to be permitted to retire from the Presidency effective July 1, 1947, comes as a blow, although not unexpected. Its finality gives ma feeling of pang for the past and of apprehension for the future. One of the stalwarts is stepping aside for rest and writing. Some one of the generation he reared must now attempt to carry on in his stead, with the prayer that he may yet long turn to the master for assistance.
I have been in the doldrums since writing you last on August 15. I am very deeply rooted in Palestine and bound up with my work here. Now that I have begun mentally to try to tear myself loose. I find myself in a troubled state of mind, the like of which I have never experienced.
The sense of moral responsibility which impelled me to write to you that I would accept the Presidency of the College if it were offered me still prevails, but it is not infused with the complete emotional acceptance which I think should accompany it.
I have not made the expected amount of progress towards completing the work here which must be finished before I leave, and I should find it very difficult to be in Cincinnati by January first.
Any Board Committee which may be appointed, charged with selecting a successor to you, knows all about me, and ought to be able to make up its mind in January as to whether or not it wants to offer me the Presidency. It should be easy alter on to arrange a meeting with that Committee and come to an agreement on details. I have already indicated certain essentials, which you and Dr. Weiss considered proper.
I should like to come home some time in the spring, and would beg of you not to assign me any teaching duties during the second semester. If I am elected, one of the things I should like to do would be to travel extensively and get acquainted with conditions and congregations and their leaders. Much time will be necessary for orientation and planning.
Helen and Charles are flying home, leaving Cairo on Sept. 30, and will take this letter along. I shall accompany them to Cairo.
They join me in wishing you and Mrs. Morgenstern and the rest of your family a very happy New Year.
Helen arrived home safely, as you know, over three weeks ago. On that day following her arrival, she very loyally arranged for a conference with me, and delivered to me your letter of September 28, together with its Postscript of October 1. I may tell you very frankly that your letter dismayed me greatly and left me completely up in the air. I discussed its implications thoroughly with Helen and, from what she said to me in answer to my questions, led me to believe that your mind was definitely made up; that you had reconciled yourself to acceptance of the Presidency of the College, if it is tendered to you, as a duty, but with no enthusiasm for the position, and with a feeling of reluctance and of sacrifice in such acceptance.
Your subsequent cable of the 16th inst. Reassured me somewhat, and led me to imagine that, after the departure of Helen and Charles, you may have come to see things in a somewhat new light, and may therefore have changed your attitude toward the entire matter. But of this I cannot be certain. I wish I could.
I have purposely delayed replying to both letter and cable until I could think the matter through a little further.
My strong conviction is that, unless you desire this Office, with all its heavy and exacting responsibilities, and its privileged opportunity for rendering a service of great magnitude to Judaism and Israel, and also to America and mankind, you should not consider accepting the position under any circumstances. Unless yours is the conviction that this is the one task in all your life which you can perform best, and which you are the most eager to do, and ot which you can give yourself without reservation, then my conviction, based upon over twenty-five years of experience, is that you should not undertake it. You would not find in it the happiness and the satisfaction which you should find in your major life service. Nor, at least such is my feeling, could you fulfill the responsibilities of the position adequately, if your heart is not in it completely.
I hesitate to write this to you. I do not want to seem to discourage you. I have looked forward eagerly all these years to your succession to this Office, and have dreamed of nobody in it but yourself, until recently – when your own attitude toward it has compelled me to look farther afield. I may got even further, and say to you frankly that I have, during the last year or two, tried to guard the Office for you, and to hold it until you would feel that you were ready to take it over. Otherwise, I might have asked for retirement sooner. I have likewise refrained from building up an administrative staff, which would have helped me to carry the steadily growing burden of the Office, for I did not wish to embarrass you, or whoever else might be my successor, by having created a machine which might not relect your, or his, own views and methods of procedure, and might not be acceptable to you, or to him. It will therefore be a grave disappointment to me if you do not become my successor. But, on the other hand, my personal feelings should count for very little or nothing at all in your processes of reaching a decision on this question which must affect your entire life. I repeat that, if your heart is not in this, and if you cannot accept the position eagerly, without reservation, and with the conviction that this is the one job which you can do best, and which you are most eager to do, and feel a tremendous enthusiasm for the task, and an elation when you may be elected to the post, then, I think, you owe it both to the College and yourself to withdraw your name form further consideration.
Furthermore, I must tell you very frankly that developments since the announcement of my impending retirement have made it clear that you will not be the only aspirant or candidate for the post. I had hoped that, with the cooperation of the Board of Governors, my request for retirement must have been kept very confidential within the circle of the members of the Board of Governors. Unfortunately, however, Jerry Ransohoff learned of my letter to the Board within two hours after it was read. I do not know definitely what his source of information was; but I imagine that it was his father who is a member of the Board, as you know. The announcement of my impending retirement appeared in the Post the next day; and from that, of course, spread to other papers in this city and, from there, throughout the country. Just as I anticipated, political action began immediately among the alumni. Different alumni are taking the lead in proposing candidates for the position and in building up sentiment and groups of supporters for them in alumni circles. It is not unreasonable to anticipate that at least one of these candidates, a very capable and deserving man, who certainly would, in my opinion, fill the Office with no little ability and distinction, may have the support of alumni-members as well. It is impossible to foretell at the present moment exactly what will happen when the moment for decision arises.
This much, however, is clear beyond question. If your decision be that you do desire the position with all your heart and soul, then it is absolutely imperative that you be back here in Cincinnati by January first, regardless of what the state of progress of your archaeological work in Palestine may be at the time. Even should the Committee have been inclined to appoint you to the Office without the necessity of any personal conference, certainly your own recent indecision and the content and spirit of your last letter to me make it absolutely indispensable that the Committee have an earnest and frank conversation with you to ascertain what your actual feelings and convictions are in the matter, before they dare make a responsible recommendation in your favor to the Board of Governors. If you insist upon your inability to be back in Cincinnati by January first, in time for a personal conference with the Committee will have no alternative, at least so it seems to me, but to interpret this as indicating either continued indecision on your part, or else your withdrawal of your name from further consideration. That time for decision by you has come, as you can see.
I believe that, under the circumstances, we had best leave open, for the present, your request to be permitted to remain in Palestine until some time in the spring, when you hope to have finished your present work. That request, it is clear from what you wrote, was based upon the assumption that if you would but speak the word, your election by the Board would be assured. From what I have written to you, you can see that such is not at all the case. I had not anticipated, until the presentation of my request for retirement, that there might be other aspirants besides yourself for the position, and had anticipated, as you did, that the matter would be handled quietly, smoothly, and assuredly within the Board of Governors. Since such is not the case, and since a conference between yourself and the Board is indispensable, and this, too, not later than the first week in January, if you are to be appointed as my successor, we can pass over for the present the question of whether it might be possible for you to remain in Palestine until sometime in the spring. I am sure that you will agree with me as to this.
I hope earnestly that you will understand the spirit of this letter. It would grieve me exceedingly as I have tried in all matters in which you were concerned since you entered the College almost thirty years ago, to safeguard your interests. But, of course, the interests of the College must come first; and I must seek to further these to the best of my ability. It is imperative that my successor have the same enthusiasm for this position and its potentialities that I myself have had through all these years. This is a sine qua non. It is in the hope that this letter may help you to determine whether you have this enthusiasm, and are willing, therefore, to relinquish to the degree that may be necessary, all other interests and activities, in order to carry out the duties and responsibilities of this Office in the best possible manner, that I am writing to you so frankly and fully today. The decision must rest with you alone. I am sure that you will understand.
It was a joy to welcome Helen back home and to see her looking so very well.
Heartiest greetings and all good wishes.
I am ever
I have your letter of October 23, 1946. I do not understand why my letter of Sept 28, brought to you by Helen, dismayed you so greatly and left you so completely up in the air, as you say. It said less than I had said in a previous letter to you of May 24. In it I had advanced reasons for my not being considered for the Presidency of the College, and in your answer of June 11, you said that you had read the letter carefully and understandingly. In your reply, you gently brushed aside my objections to myself and said: “I understand perfectly that the real difficulty in reaching a decision is not at all a mistrusting of your own powers and abilities, but it is rather the indecision as to whether you are willing to sacrifice your work and career as an archaeologist.
After long and deep reflection, I decided that it was my moral duty to accept the presidency of the College if invited to do so. And on October 16, I cabled you to confirm and underline my previous affirmation. You know me well enough to be assured that whatever I undertake to do, I do with all my might.
I have never concealed from you that it was a severe struggle for me to arrive at that decision. Knowing that it involved the abandoning largely or completely of my intense preoccupation with Biblical archaeology and foregoing the deep personal satisfaction that I have always derived from it, I nevertheless signified my willingness to accept the Presidency if called upon. I did so, because I had come to the conclusion that I simply could not bury myself in my academic work if a call were directed to me to serve Judaism directly through the medium of my beloved Hebrew Union College. I was not and am not willing to join in a competitive race for the position.
Now you tell me, that unless I accept the position eagerly, without any reservation, with the conviction that this is the one job I can do best and that I am most eager to do, and that unless I feel a tremendous enthusiasm for the task and shall feel elated to be elected to the post, I owe it both to the College and to myself to withdraw my name from further consideration.
I have never lifted a finger toward securing the high office of the Presidency for myself. I even wrote you on May 24, 1946 saying that I would give you a definite answer in August, “provided that by that time you have not fortunately found some one satisfactory to you, who is not hindered by the same hesitancies that afflict me.” I see no reason, therefore to withdraw my name from further consideration for the Presidency, I have never advanced it.
You say you felt that I had determined to accept the Presidency if offered, but that my decision was coupled with a feeling of reluctance and of sacrifice in such acceptance. You are right, but I was prepared to follow you as Elisa did Elijah, when summoned from Abel-mehelah while he was ploughing his fields with his oxen. Do you recall how Elisha hesitated before leaving the land he was tilling, the parents he loved, the work he was familiar with, the environment in which he was at home? Did he go without regrets for furrow unfinished, for the seeds unsown, for the crops that yet remained to be harvested?
I have said that if called to the Presidency, I shall come, and I abide by that. By I also say that I shall be more than content to be permitted to continue to plough my familiar field. No, my affirmative decision to respond to the invitation if issued was not arrived at easily, nor occasioned by any enthusiastic conviction that being President of the College was the one thing I wanted to do above all else, and could do best, and was most eager to do, as you have put it in your letter, but rather by my feeling that I was being summoned to assume a front-line position to help wage with all my might and main the battle of the Lord, and that I could not ignore such a call. If there are other captains eager and be able to lead His hosts, – why, God bless them, and most power to any one or all of them. I shall certainly not stand in the way of any one else being elevated to leadership.
I have a TWA reservation home for December 9, but the continuing TWA strike may nullify it. No boats are presently available and there is a huge backlog of reservations for boats when they do arrive, after having been held up long by the seaman’s strike recently ended. I shall try hard to get home by January 1, but if I can’t, there is really nothing I could say to the Committee that I have not already said in this letter.
Of this I am certain, that your entire attitude has always been animated both by your love for the College and its cause and by your affection for me, of which I have always been gratefully aware.
P.S. I am sending a copy of this letter to Helen. I should be glad if you show this letter or send a copy of it to Dr. H. B. Weiss.
THE HEBREW UNION COLLEGE
November 20, 1946
My dear Nelson:
Your good letter of the 10th inst. reached me the other day. It brought me very great satisfaction. Your cablegram had relieved my wind somewhat with regard to your attitude toward the Presidency of the College. This letter completed this process. I feel much happier over the situation than I did previously.
I hope earnestly that you will be able to carry out your intention of returning by plane, leaving Jerusalem on December 9. I trust that both the maritime and air transportation situation will have cleared up sufficiently by that time to enable you to carry out this plan. Under any circumstances, I am sure that you will return at the earliest possible moment. You may be sure that I shall be happy, indeed, to greet you.
More than this, I cannot write at the present moment for various reasons, not the least of which is lack of time. I am leaving for New York tomorrow afternoon for a week’s stay there. This will be my third out-of-town trip within one week. You can see from this what the pressure is upon me. I am happy, indeed, however, to be able to say that I am feeling quite well and that, on the whole, things are moving along satisfactorily.
With heartiest greetings and all good wishes, I am ever
December 2, 1946
Dear Dr. Morgenstern:
I have your letter of November 20, 1946, and am pleased that you read it with “very great satisfaction,” although this time it is my turn to be at a loss as to exactly what you mean.
In my letter of November 10, 1946, I took pains to point out that I could not measure up to the standards which you said must be met by any one who was to be promoted to the presidency. For fear that I lacked the prerequisites of enthusiasm and whole-hearted desire for that position, you recommended to me that I withdraw my name from consideration. For all practical purposes I did just that, while, nevertheless, repeating what I still affirm, that I could not and would not close my ears to the command of a moral obligation, and that whatever I once undertake to do, I do with every ounce of my energy. I admitted and underlined that I was neither eager nor ambitious for the Presidency. I agreed with you that my attitude to the possibility of being summoned to it was governed by a sense of reluctance and sacrifice of my happiest interests. I insisted that under all circumstances I was unwilling to join the ranks of the contenders for the succession.
Indeed, I said to myself after absorbing your letter of October 23, 1946, and penning my reply, “well, that’s that”, and had turned my thoughts to other plans for my future, that I have often discussed with you. That is why now I fail to understand your present letter.
I think I have succeeded in getting a TWA reservation, leaving Cairo on January 5, 1947. Looking forward to seeing you a few days later,
I remain, as ever, devotedly yours,