Modern Orthodoxy in the Forties


  • Maxine Jacobson



This article examines trends in Modern Orthodoxy in North America in the 1940s. Canadian and American Orthodox rabbis and laypeople belonged to the same organizations, such as the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America and the Rabbinic Council of America (RCA). The major Orthodox rabbinic seminaries were located in the United States, and many Canadian rabbis were trained there. One of the issues the article addresses is Modern Orthodoxy’s issues with Traditional Orthodoxy, which - while newer on the scene in the 1940s - was beginning to make its mark. Orthodox leaders also took an active role in the war effort; the role of Orthodoxy was enhanced on the American scene by the contributions that the RCA made in the area of military chaplaincy. Orthodox leaders also took on a major role in the attempt to rescue European Jewry. Finally, just as there was a new role for America in Modern Orthodoxy, there was a new role for Zionism and Eretz Yisrael.


Allan Mittleman, The Politics of Torah: The Jewish Political Tradition and the Founding of Agudat Israel (Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 1996). DOI:

David S. Wyman and Raphael Medoff, A Race Against Death: Peter Bergson, America and the Holocaust (New York: The New Press, 2002).

Dr. Raphael Medoff, “How Peter Bergson Brought Activism into Mainstream,” Jewish Press, 1 July 2016.

Efraim Zuroff, The Response of Orthodox Jewry in the United States to The Holocaust (New York: The Michael Sharf Publications Trust of Yeshiva University Press; Hoboken, NJ: Ktav Publishing House, 2000), 33, 38.

Hugues Théorêt, Adrien Arcand and Fascist Anti-Semitism in Canada (Ottawa, University of Ottawa Press, 2017).

Jack Wertheimer, “What You Don’t Know About the Ultra-Orthodox,” Commentary, 1 July 2014,

Josh Nathan-Kazis,” Orthodox Population Grows Faster Than First Figures in Pew,” Forward, 12 November 2013,

Leo Jung, “American Religion: Its Opportunity and Responsibility,” from “Message of Israel,” Radio Station WJZ, 17 June 1945, 2.

Leo Jung, “Jewish Foundations of the New World Order,” in Israel of Tomorrow, ed. Leo Jung, The Jewish Library, volume 5 (New York: Herald Square Press, 1946), 4.

Maurice J. Karpf, “Community Organization in the United States,” American Jewish Year Book 39 (1937-38): 120.

Modern Orthodoxy in American Jewish Religion: The Era of Rabbi Dr. Leo Jung(Boston: Academic Studies Press, 2016).

Ned Temko, “Not Idly By: Peter Bergson, America and the Holocaust,” The Jewish Chronicle,10 December 2017.

Pew Research Center, “A Portrait of Jewish Americans,” 1 October 2013,

Sidney B. Hoenig, “The Orthodox Rabbi as a Military Chaplain,” Tradition 16, no. 2 (Fall 1976): 39-43.

Stephanie Flandersaug,“Peter Bergson, Who Helped European Jews, Dies at 86,” New York Times, 20 August 2001.

William Helmreich, “Old Wine in New Bottles: Advanced Yeshivot in the United States,” American Jewish History 69, no. 2 (December 1979): 249.

Wolf Balttberg, “Polish Jewry, Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow,” Israel of Tomorrow, ed. Leo Jung, The Jewish Library., volume 5 (New York: Herald Square Press, 1946), 369.

Yeshiva University Archives - “S.O.Y. To Award Free Israel Trips,” The Commentator 29, no. 3 (24 March 1949): 1.

Yeshiva University Archives, Leo Jung Collection, Box 44, Folder 1.

Yeshiva University Archives, “Congregationson the Increase”, Yeshiva and Yeshiva College News 2, no. 2 (December 1944): 2.

Yeshiva University Archives, “Dr. Belkin Opens Synagogue Panel,” The Commentator 25, no. 3 (20 March 1947): 1.

Yeshiva University Archives, “Dr. Jung Addresses Yeshiva Chapter on Agudah Significance,” The Commentator 15, no. 4 (26 March 1942): 1 and 4.

Yeshiva University Archives, “Yeshiva University - A National Asset (Secretary of Defense Johnson) Program of Americanism Praised by Barkley,” Yeshiva University News7, no. 1 (Sept. 1949): 1.

Zev Eleff, “Freedom and Responsibility: The First Orthodox College Journalists and Early Yeshiva College Politics, 1935-1941,” American Jewish Archives Journal 62, no. 2 (2010): 76.




How to Cite

Jacobson, M. (2019). Modern Orthodoxy in the Forties. Canadian Jewish Studies Études Juives Canadiennes.



Articles / Articles