Biographical Sketch

Scope and Content Note

Arrangement Note

Conditions of Access and Use

Administrative Information

Search Terms

Box and Folder Listing

Series A. Chaplaincy. 1945-1962.

Series B. Rabbinic Education and Career. 1941-1982.

Series C. Written Articles, Sermons, and Sermon Notes. 1939-1981.

Series D. Condolence. 1990.

Series E. Union Institute Camp. 1941-2000.

A Finding Aid to the Ernst Mordecai Lorge Papers. 1939-2000.

Manuscript Collection No. 672


Repository: The Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives
Creator: Lorge, Ernst Mordecai, 1916-1990.
Title: Ernst Mordecai Lorge Papers.
Dates: 1939-2000
Quantity: 1.2 linear feet (3 Hollinger boxes)
Abstract: The Ernst M. Lorge papers consist of correspondence, sermons, writings, photographs, and memorabilia of Rabbi Ernst M. Lorge, which were copied and compiled by his son, Michael Lorge. The collection consists of five volumes; volumes 1 and 2 are missing from this collection. The collection also includes a chaplain's diary from 1945.
Collection Number: MS-672
Language: Collection material in English.

Biographical Sketch

Ernst Mordecai Lorge was born in Mainz, Germany on May 26, 1915, the son of Maurice and Hedwig (Steinweg) Lorge. Lorge began his general and rabbinical studies in Frankfort, Germany, where he became the leader of the United Jewish Youth Movement. In 1936 Lorge was awarded a scholarship for studies in the United States by the World Student Service. He came to Cincinnati, Ohio, where he graduated from the University of Cincinnati with a Bachelor of Arts with honors. In 1942 he received a Master's degree from Hebrew Union College. In the same year he was also ordained as a rabbi at HUC and was awarded the Simon Lazarus Prize for highest academic standing.

During World War II, Lorge enlisted as a chaplain in the U.S. Army, attaining the rank of captain. Serving in England, France, Belgium and Germany, Lorge was active in the rehabilitation of displaced persons and was a member of the first unit to liberate Jews at the Buchenwald concentration camp. For this service Lorge was one of the first Jewish chaplains decorated for conspicuous service. He received the Bronze Star and several other commendations. During the Korean war Lorge was recalled into the chaplaincy and served two years as head chaplain at the Reception Center at Fort Sheridan, Illinois.

In the years before and after his service in World War II, Lorge was the rabbi at Temple Israel and director of the Hillel Foundation at Florida State College in Tallahassee. In 1947 Lorge became the rabbi at Temple Beth Israel in Chicago, where he remained until his retirement in 1985 and was then named Rabbi Emeritus.

Lorge was active in religious and communal affairs throughout his career, including being a co-founder of the Chicago Commission on Race and Religion; serving as president of the Chicago chapter of the Labor Zionist Alliance, the Chicago Association of Reform Rabbis, and the Chicago Board of Rabbis; director of the Chicago Board of Education; Jewish delegate to the Department of Public Welfare, State of Illinois; a board member of the American Reform Zionist Association; a governor of the Jewish War Veterans; and a board member of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations.

Lorge was appointed by President Kennedy to serve on the Race Relations Advisory Committee and was active in civil rights causes. He received an award for his participation with the Chicago Host Committee to the National Conference on Religion and Race "for successfully convening leaders of three major religious faiths to plan for elimination of racially restrictive practices in the country."

Lorge authored several stories in the book, Rabbis in Uniform: The Story of the Jewish Chaplain and contributed numerous articles to journals and magazines. He was also an instructor at the College of Jewish Studies in Chicago.

Ernst M. Lorge married Eudice Goldman on June 7, 1942. They had three children: Greta Lee, Susan Helen, and Michael Maurice.

Ernst M. Lorge died on February 24, 1990.

Scope and Content Note

The Ernst M. Lorge papers are a compilation of selected correspondence, sermons, writings, notes, newsclippings, and other items of Rabbi Ernst M. Lorge, which were compiled and organized by his son, Michael M. Lorge. The papers reflect the range of Rabbi Lorge's activities: religious, professional, communal, and organizational. This collection documents the life and work of a significant figure in 20th century American Reform Judaism and of someone who was actively involved in the issues and concerns of his time and community, ranging from World War II to Zionism, to civil rights, up to events of the late 1980s.

The collection contains a significant amount of photocopies along with digital reproductions of certain documents and images. Original documents and photographs appear predominately in Union Camp Institute series.

Arrangement Note

This collection is arranged in five (5) series:

  • Series A. Chaplaincy.
  • Series B. Rabbinic Education and Career.
  • Series C. Articles, Sermons, and Sermon Notes.
  • Series D. Condolence.
  • Series E. Union Institute Camp.

Conditions of Access and Use

Terms of Access

The collection is open for use; no restrictions apply.

Terms of Reproduction and Use

Copyright restrictions may apply. Authorization to publish, quote, or reproduce, with exceptions for fair use, may be obtained through the American Jewish Archives, Cincinnati, Ohio. Please address queries 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 Ernst Mordecai Lorge Papers and the American Jewish Archives. A suggestion for at least the first citation is as follows:

[Description], [Date], Box #, Folder #. MS-672. Ernst Mordecai Lorge Papers. American Jewish Archives, Cincinnati, Ohio.


The Ernst M. Lorge papers were donated to the American Jewish Archives by Michael M. Lorge, Chicago, Ill., in 2001.

Processing Information

Processed by Kevin Proffitt, December 2001.

Box and Folder Listing

Series A. Chaplaincy. 1945-1962.
This series is one folder pertaining to Rabbi Lorge’s service as an Army chaplain during World War II. Together with correspondence and military documents, the highlight of this folder is a 1945 diary kept by Rabbi Lorge while in the service. The diary gives a daily report of Lorge’s activities, including his observations on the liberation of the Buchenwald concentration camp in which he participated at the end of the war.
Box Folder
1 1 Chaplaincy materials. 1945-1962
Series B. Rabbinic Education and Career. 1941-1982.
This series covers Rabbi Lorge’s student years at Hebrew Union College, together with various materials pertaining to his congregational and professional activities. Included are newsclippings and letters that give a representative sample of the range and diversity of Rabbi Lorge’s involvement in communal and organizational work. Topics covered in this series include civil rights, Temple Beth Israel (Chicago, Ill.), interfaith relations, Zionism, and Chicago-area issues and movements. Also included are images of Rabbi Lorge in both personal and public settings.
Box Folder
1 2 Correspondence; newsclippings. 1941-1982
1 3 Photographs; newsclippings. undated
1 4 Hebrew Union College. League for Labor Palestine. Correspondence. 1941.
1 5 Ecumenical Zionism Conference. Correspondence. 1947.
Series C. Written Articles, Sermons, and Sermon Notes. 1939-1981.
The writings are arranged in a broad chronological order and consist of both typewritten and handwritten materials.
Box Folder
1 6 Articles; sermons. 1939-1948
1 7 Sermon notes. 1968-1981, undated
1 8 Sermons; sermon notes. 1942-1969, undated
Series D. Condolence. 1990.
The Condolence series consists of letters written to the Lorge family at the time of Ernst M. Lorge’s death in 1990. This volume concludes with a tribute to Rabbi Lorge by his son-in-law, Rabbi Donald M. Splansky.
Box Folder
1 9 Memorials; condolence letters. 1990
Series E. Union Institute Camp. 1941-2000.
This series, the largest, contains correspondence, meeting minutes, and general information about the Union Institute Camp in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin, affiliated with the Union of American Hebrew Congregations.
Box Folder
2 1 Photograph. undated.
2 2 Photographs. 1975,undated.
2 3 Brochures and Schedules. 1952-1980.
2 4 Correspondence and Meeting Minutes. 1948-1963.
2 5 Summer Program. 1957.
2 6 Correspondence and Meeting Minutes. 1951-1958.
2 7 Land Purchases. 1951-1963.
2 8 Zionsville and Swig. Correspondence. 1958.
2 9 Brin Years. Correspondence and Meeting Minutes. 1955-1960.
2 10 Camp Experience. Correspondence. 1941-1955.
2 11 Director's Summary. 1953-1956.
2 12 Fundraising. Correspondence and Meeting Minutes. 1951-1957.
2 13 Foundation and Mission. Correspondence and Meeting Minutes. 1946-1956.
2 14 National Relationship. Correspondence. 1951-1954.
2 15 General Information. undated.
2 16 Chalutzim. Correspondence. 1962-1964.
2 17 Board Lists and Meeting Minutes. 1952-1961.
2 18 Raskin/Kerman/Schor Years. Meeting Minutes and Reports. 1953-1955.
2 19 Buckner Years. Correspondence and Meeting Minutes. 1960-1963.
2 20 Kaplan Years. Correspondence and Meeting Minutes. 1962-1964.
2 21 Camper Study. 1963.
2 22 Music. 1954-1957.
Box Folder
3 1 Hebrew, Rabbinical Issues. Correspondence and Meeting Minutes. 1955-1963.
3 2 Correspondence and Meeting Minutes. 1951-1962.
3 3 Newsclipping. 2000.
3 4 Union of American Hebrew Congregations. Camp Counselor and Staff Orientation Manual. 1970.

Search Terms

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

Persons and Families

Lorge, Ernst Mordecai -- 1916-1990


Temple Beth Israel (Chicago, Ill.)
Union Institute Camp


Jewish camps
Military chaplains
Synagogues -- Illinois -- Chicago

Genres and Forms

Jewish sermons, American