Commemorating Rabbi Morris Adler
The Jewish community of the Detroit area recently commemorated the 50th anniversary of the tragic death of a prominent leader, Rabbi Morris Adler. Born in Russia in 1906, Rabbi Adler was the spiritual leader of Congregation Shaarey Zedek in Detroit (later in Southfield, MI) from 1938 until 1966. On February 12, 1966, while presiding at religious services he was shot by a mentally disturbed congregant; he died 27 days later at the age of 59. The Reuther Library marks this sad anniversary and notes that Rabbi Adler’s legacy remains in several collections in the archives.
Rabbi Adler was a widely respected leader in the Jewish community and the wider community as well. He was active in the civil rights movement, and served on the Michigan Fair Elections Practices Commission, the Governor’s Board of Higher Education, the Detroit Round Table of Christians and Jews, and Wayne State University’s Department of Near Eastern Languages. Adler was actively involved with the labor movement, working closely with Walter P. Reuther. Their mutual respect and friendship is made clear in Reuther’s records UAW President's Office: Walter P. Reuther Records , which contain long and warm letters between the men about labor and social issues, their family activities, and personal observations. Prominent members of the Jewish community whose papers at the Reuther Library contain correspondence with Rabbi Adler include Max M. Fisher Papers, JCA: Philip Slomovitz Papers, and Stanley J. Winkelman Papers. Adler was also an active member of the Jewish Community Council, whose records include correspondence and documents from Rabbi Adler on a variety of social and political issues JCA Jewish Community Council Records.
Walter Reuther appointed Rabbi Adler to the UAW Public Review Board when it was established in 1957, and the Rabbi chaired that organization from the beginning until his death in 1966. The records of the Review Board UAW Public Review Board Annual Report are included in the collections of the Reuther Library. In the foreword to the board’s 8th Annual Report published in 1966, Walter Reuther wrote, “Rabbi Adler has left us, but what he gave out of his fullness of spirit remains, in the democratic fabric of our Union and in our determination to honor his memory by remaining true to the ideals of justice and charity that ruled his life.”