Biographical Sketch

Scope and Content Note

Arrangement Note

Conditions of Access and Use

Administrative Information

Search Terms

Box and Folder Listing

Series A. Correspondence. 1934-2005.

Series B. Sermons, Addresses and Notes. 1937-1966.

A Finding Aid to the Lou H. Silberman Papers. 1934-2005. (bulk 1940-1960).

Manuscript Collection No. 103


Repository: The Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives
Creator: Silberman, Lou H.
Title: Lou H. Silberman Papers
Dates: 1934-2005
Bulk Dates: 1940-1960
Quantity: 5.2 linear feet (13 Hollingers)
Abstract: Describes the career of Silberman as a rabbi and educator. Includes correspondence (primarily concerning the work of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations and the National Community Relations Advisory Council), sermons, prayers, notes, addresses, and notebooks.
Collection Number: MS-103
Language: Collection material in English, Hebrew, and German.

Biographical Sketch

Lou H. Silberman

Lou Hackett Silberman was born in San Francisco, California on June 23, 1914 to Lou Harry and Myrtle (Mueller) Silberman. He attended the University of California at Los Angeles from 1931 to 1933, then transferred to and graduated from the University of California at Berkeley in 1934 with an A.B. degree. Silberman then attended Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio, earning a B.H.L. degree in 1939, and M.H.L. degree and ordination as a rabbi in 1941, and a D.H.L. degree in 1943. Silberman later studied for a year at the University of Basel in 1959.

From 1941 to 1943, while he was working toward his D.H.L. degree, Silberman was an instructor of medieval Biblical exegesis at Hebrew Union College. Following the completion of his studies at HUC, Silberman moved to Dallas, Texas where he served as assistant rabbi at Temple Emanu-El until 1945. From Dallas he moved to Omaha, Nebraska to become rabbi at Temple Israel. He remained at Temple Israel until 1952 when he left the rabbinate to begin a new career in education as a professor of Jewish literature and thought at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee.

In 1955, Silberman was promoted from associate professor to the position of Hillel professor of Jewish literature and thought. Other offices Silberman held at Vanderbilt include, twice being director of graduate studies in the Biblical field, 1960-1965 and 1967-1969; and chairman of the department of religious studies, 1970-1977. Silberman was visiting professor at a number of colleges, including the Oriental Institute of the University of Vienna in 1965-1966; Carleton College in 1972; Emory University in 1973; and the University of Chicago Divinity School in 1978. He was a Rosenstiel fellow at Notre Dame University in 1972, a Touhy lecturer of interreligious studies at John Carroll University in 1973, and a visiting scholar at the Postgraduate Center of Hebrew Studies at Oxford University in 1978.

Silberman also belonged to the Society of Biblical Literature and Exegesis (president of the Southern section 1959-1960), the American Academy of Religion, the Central Conference of American rabbis, the Association for Jewish studies, and B'nai B'rith.

Silberman authored numerous publications dealing with such topics as the Dead Sea Scrolls, rabbinic literature, and contemporary theology. He contributed to the Encyclopedia Britannica, the Encyclopaeda Judaica and was an editorial advisor for the Encyclopedia International.

Silberman married Helen Sue Epstein on June 14, 1942. They had two children: Syrl Augusta and Deborah. Lou Silberman passed away on June 6, 2006 in Tucson, Arizona.

Scope and Content Note

The Lou H. Silberman Papers (1934-2005) describe the career of Lou H. Silberman, educator and rabbi. The collection includes correspondence, sermons, prayers, notes, various addresses and notebooks.

Arrangement Note

This collection is arranged in two (2) series:

  • Series A. Correspondence. 1934-2005.
  • Series B. Sermons, Addresses and Notes. 1937-1966.

Conditions of Access and Use

Terms of Access and Use

The Lou H. Silberman Papers are open to all users. The original manuscript collection is available in the Barrows-Loebelson Reading Room of the Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives.

Property and Literary Rights

Lou H. Silberman, by the act of donating the Lou H. Silberman Papers to the American Jewish Archives, assigned all property rights to the American Jewish Archives. Literary rights are retained by Lou H. Silberman and his heirs. Literary rights may also be retained by specific creators of materials.

Questions concerning rights should be addressed to the Executive Director of the American Jewish Archives. For more information see the American Jewish Archives copyright information webpage.

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Footnotes and bibliographic references should refer to the Lou H. Silberman Papers and the American Jewish Archives. A suggestion for at least the first citation is as follows:

[Description], [Date], Box #, Folder #. MS-103. Lou H. Silberman Papers. American Jewish Archives, Cincinnati, Ohio.


The Lou H. Silberman Papers were received from Lou H. Silberman, Nashville, Tennessee in 1980; and from the Silberman family in 2006.

Processing Information

Processed by Kevin Proffitt, 1982. Additional processing by Elisa Ho, September 2011.

Box and Folder Listing

Series A. Correspondence. 1934-2005.
Scope and Content Note: Series A. Correspondence (1934-2005) consists of correspondence and some clippings, newsletters and reports.
Arrangement Note: Correspondence is arranged alphabetically by the name of the person or organization. Letters are arranged chronologically within each folder.
Box Folder
1 1 B'nai B'rith Hillel Foundation. 1967-1968.
1 2 C-W, General.
1 3 Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR). 1950-1972, undated.
1 4 CCAR [Commission on Theology]. 1960-1961, undated.
1 5 CCAR [Liturgy Committee]. 1948; 1950.
1 6 Council of Jewish Federations and Welfare Funds [Committee on College Youth and Faculty Programs]. 1967-1972.
1 7 Dallas, Tex. - Temple Emanu-El. 1943-1944.
1 8 Hebrew Union College (HUC). 1934-1942.
1 9 HUC [Newsletters and Plays]. 1936-1939.
1 10 Morgenstern, Julian. 1943-1952, undated.
1 11 National Community Relations Advisory Council (NCRAC). 1960-1961.
1 12 NCRAC. 1964.
Box Folder
2 1 NCRAC. 1965.
2 2 NCRAC. March-June 1966.
2 3 NCRAC. July-September 1966.
2 4 NCRAC. October-December 1966.
2 5 NCRAC. January-September 1967.
2 6 NCRAC. October-December 1967.
2 7 NCRAC [Marvin Schick]. 1967.
2 8 NCRAC. January-March 1968.
Box Folder
3 1 NCRAC. April-August 1968.
3 2 NCRAC. September-December 1968.
3 3 NCRAC. Janary-April 1969.
3 4 NCRAC. May-December 1969.
3 5 NCRAC. 1970.
3 6 NCRAC. 1971.
3 7 Omaha, Nebraska-Temple Israel. 1945-1951.
3 8 Union of American Hebrew Congregations (UAHC). 1943-1955.
Box Folder
4 1 UAHC [American Jewish Cavalcade]. 1947-1948.
4 2 UAHC [Biennial]. 1969-1970.
4 3 UAHC [Commission on Synagogue Music]. 1944-1955.
13 Correspondence. 1943-2005, undated.[8 folders]
Series B. Sermons, Addresses and Notes. 1937-1966.
Scope and Content Note: Series B. Sermons, Addresses, and Notes (1937-1966) consists of sermons, addresses, prayers, notes, bar mitzvah speeches, life cycles, addresses, notebooks and miscellaneous items. The notebooks are from Silberman's student years at Hebrew Union College.
Arrangement Note: Arranged alphabetically. Notebooks are arranged alphabetically according to the labels given them by Silberman.
Box Folder
4 4 A.
4 5 B.
4 6 C.
4 7 D-E.
4 8 F.
4 9 G.
4 10 H.
4 11 I.
4 12 J-K.
Box Folder
5 1 L-M.
5 2 N-O.
5 3 P-Q.
5 4 R.
5 5 S.
5 6 T.
5 7 U-W.
5 8 Y-Z.
Box Folder
6 1 Untitled Sermons. 1938-1952, undated.
6 2 Untitled Sermons. Undated.
6 3 Bar Mitzvah Speeches. 1944-1945, undated.
6 4 Life Cycle Addresses. 1940-1960, undated.
6 5 Notes.
6 6 Prayers.
6 7 Miscellaneous. 1937-1966, undated.
6 Theology IV Notes. Undated.
7 Notebooks.
7 1 Notes [Miscellaneous].
7 2 Notes [Miscellaneous].
8 Sermons, Addresses and Notes. A-D.[13 folders]
9 Sermons, Addresses and Notes. E-L.[12 folders]
10 Sermons, Addresses and Notes. L-Pi.[14 folders]
11 Sermons, Addresses and Notes. Pl-Z.[22 folders]
12 Teaching Material (lecture notes, syllabi, and exams).[13 folders]

Search Terms

The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the AJA's online catalog.

Persons and Families

Silberman, Lou H.


National Community Relations Advisory Council (U.S.)
Temple Emanu-El (Dallas, Tex.)
Temple Israel (Omaha, Neb.)
Union of American Hebrew Congregations
United States. National Historical Publications and Records Commission
Vanderbilt University


Jewish college teachers -- Tennessee -- Nashville
Jews -- Nebraska -- Omaha
Jews -- Tennessee -- Nashville
Jews -- Texas -- Dallas
Reform Judaism

Genres and Forms

Jewish sermons, American


Jewish educators -- Tennessee -- Nashville
Rabbis -- Tennessee -- Nashville