Biographical Sketch

Scope and Content Note


Conditions of Access and Use

Administrative Information

Search Terms

Box and Folder Listing

Series A. Correspondence and Nearprint, 1928-1983

Series B. 1930-1972

Series C. Confirmation Class Notes, Sermons and Scrapbooks, 1920-1979

Series D. Professional Development and 1943-1979

Series E. Temple Israel (New Rochelle, N.Y.) 1932-1968

A Finding Aid to the Jacob Kestin Shankman Papers. 1920-1983.

Manuscript Collection No. 693


Repository: The Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives
Creator: Shankman, Jacob Kestin, 1904-1986
Title: Jacob Kestin Shankman Papers
Dates: 1920-1983
Quantity: 4.4 linear feet (11 Hollinger boxes)
Abstract: The Jacob K. Shankman papers relate to the professional career of Jacob K. Shankman, who was a rabbi and leader of the New Rochelle, N.Y., Jewish community for nearly 50 years. The papers include correspondence, newsclippings, photographs, scrapbooks, sermons (including Shankman's detailed notes and sermon drafts), poetry, notes on confirmations and material on his professional involvement both within and beyond the New Rochelle Jewish community.
Collection Number: MS-693
Language: Collection material in English.

Biographical Sketch

Jacob Kestin Shankman was born on October 22, 1904 in Chelsea, Massachusetts to Isaac and Dina Shankman. At the age of 14 he was admitted to Harvard University where he received a bachelor's degree in 1923 and a master's degree in 1925. In 1930 Shankman graduated from Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio, where he was ordained as a rabbi. During his studies at HUC, Shankman served as president of the student body and awarded honors for having the highest scholastic record.

Shankman began his rabbinical career at Berith Sholom in Troy, New York before coming to Temple Israel in New Rochelle, New York in 1937. After twenty years at Temple Israel Shankman was granted life tenure in November of 1957. In 1962, the Temple moved from their synagogue on Webster Avenue to their current location at 1000 Pinebrook, a move encouraged and lobbied for by Shankman.

During World War II, Shankman took leave from Temple Israel to serve as a chaplain with the U.S. Naval Reserve from 1943-1946. He rose to the rank of Lieutenant Commander and remained interested in the military chaplaincy throughout his life.

Shankman was involved with the New Rochelle Council of Social Agencies, Community Chest, Salvation Army, Red Cross, Council for Unity, PTA and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. He served as President of the Association of Reform Rabbis of New York, the Westchester Council of Rabbis, and the Alumni Association of Hebrew Union College.

As a member of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, Shankman served as a member of its executive board, its Commission on Ceremonies, and as chairman of its Committees on Church and State, Relations of Rabbis and Congregations, Meditations and Ethics. He was the American director of the World Union for Progressive Judaism from 1957-1964, being chairman of the American board at the same time. In 1959, he became chairman of the World Union's Executive Committee.

Shankman was included in Who's Who in America and the Encylopaedia Judaica. He wrote a history of Temple Israel, a history of his mother's family--the Kestins–to the 1400s, and was published in numerous periodicals including American Judaism, Liberal Judaism, and The Jewish Layman.

In 1937, he married Miriam Frankenstein. Together they had two daughters: Judith and Diane, as well as one son Michael.

Jacob K. Shankman died on February 6th, 1986.

Scope and Content Note

The Jacob K. Shankman papers are comprised of materials collected by Jacob Shankman over the course of his rabbinical career. The nearprint contains biographical material and photographs of the rabbi. There is also one box of correspondence – both personal and professional – that chronicles Shankman's continued involvement with HUC-JIR and professional organizations such as the Central Conference on American Rabbis and the World Union for Progressive Judaism.

Sermons over the course of Shankman's tenure at Temple Israel, as well as those given while he was a chaplain in the U.S. Naval Reserve, can be found among Shankman's other writings. Shankman was a prolific reader and his readings often led to private meditations and notes that would transform into sermons. A substantial portion of the writings is Shankman's own notes and drafts or articles and sermons. Much of the material in this portion of the collection is not dated, though researchers should be able to surmise dates from the newsclippings and articles on which Shankman began his initial writings. Whenever possible, sermons and writings are put into chronological order. When this is not possible, the sermons and writings have been put into order by title, with untitled material – including Shankman's poetry – placed at the end of the series.

An extensive portion of the collection is dedicated to the day-to-day functions of Temple Israel in its various forms, as well as material covering Shankman's active participation in professional organizations and his life-long interest in military chaplaincy.

The collection spans the dates 1920-1983.


The Jacob K. Shankman papers are divided into five series:

  • A. Correspondence and Nearprint
  • B. Sermons, Writings, Poetry, and Meditations
  • C. Confirmation Class Notes, Sermons, and Scrapbooks
  • D. Professional Development and Chaplaincy Involvement
  • E. Temple Israel (New Rochelle, N.Y.)

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 Jacob Kestin Shankman Papers and the American Jewish Archives. A suggestion for at least the first citation is as follows:

[Description], [Date], Box #, Folder #. MS-693. Jacob Kestin Shankman Papers. American Jewish Archives, Cincinnati, Ohio.


The Jacob K. Shankman papers were originally donated by Mrs. Jacob K. Shankman, New Rochelle, N.Y., in 1986. An additional supplement of papers was donated to the American Jewish Archives by Sue Shankman of Cincinnati, Ohio, in June, 2001. All materials donated prior to February, 2003 have been arranged and described in this inventory.

Processing Information

Processed by Jeff Brown and Rachel Howse, February, 2003.

Box and Folder Listing

Series A. Correspondence and Nearprint, 1928-1983
The correspondence and nearprint series consists of two Hollinger boxes of correspondence, biographical information, newsclippings, and materials relating to Shankman's community activism, as well as two scripts of radio and television broadcasts.
The papers are arranged initially by correspondent or subject and then chronologically within the corresponding files.
Box Folder
1 1 General correspondence, A-Z
1 2 Braude, William G. 1928-1983
1 3 British closing of Palestine (Telegrams) 1938
1 4 Chaplaincy correspondence 1941-1960
1 5 Central Conference of American Rabbis 1942-1976, undated
1 6 German refugees 1938-1942
1 7 Liebman, Joshua Loth 1934-1937
1 8 Prayer in schools New York state 1951-1952
1 9 Raizen, Charles and Patricia 1955-1959
1 10 Rosett, Louis 1937-1938
1 11 Congratulatory letters on 30th anniversary of Shankman as ordained rabbi 1960
1 12 Shankman, Jacob K. 1936-1982
1 13 Silver, Samuel 1953
1 14 Wohl, Samuel 1930-1939
1 15 World Union for Progressive Judaism 1955-1981
Box Folder
2 1 Nearprint
2 2 Photographs
2 3 Community activism
2 4 Sachs, Nelly Agnon, S.Y. Nobel Prize articles and interviews
2 5 Television and radio appearances
2 6 Periodicals
Series B. Sermons, Writings, Poetry and Meditations, 1930-1972
This series consists of five Hollinger boxes containing the sermons, personal notes and meditations, poetry, and writings of Rabbi Shankman over the course of his career. Often what would start as a meditation would lead to the drafting of a sermon or article and researchers of Shankman's papers will find the occasional overlap.
The material is in chronological and subject order.
Box Folder
3 1 Sermons and notes 1930-1931
3 2 Sermons and notes 1931-1932
3 3 Sermons and notes 1932-1933
3 4 Sermons and notes 1933-1934
3 5 Sermons and notes 1934-1935
3 6 Adler, Cyrus sermon 1941
3 7 Looking Forward to Life Post-World War II 1941
3 8 World War II sermons 1942
3 9 1,000 Years After the Death of Saadra Gaon 1942
3 10 Dragonseed 1942
3 11 Jews and The Saturday Evening Post series sermons 1942
3 12 Norwegian Resistance to Nazis sermons 1942
3 13 Sermons and notes 1946
3 14 Sermons and notes 1947
Box Folder
4 1-3 Sermons and notes 1947 (3 folders)
4 4 Sermons and notes 1948
4 5 Purim sermons
4 6 Pageant of Light sermon
4 7 Prayers and Prayerbooks of Jews sermon
4 8 The Psalms
4 9 Notes for Shabbat sermons undated
4 10 Miscellaneous sermons and notes
Box Folder
5 1 High Holy Day sermons and notes undated
5 2 Antisemitism in America
5 3 Bridge Between the Generations
5 4 The Deputy reactions and meditations
5 5 Gentleman's Agreement reactions
5 6 God Issues and Meditations
5 7 Reactions to the Holocaust
5 8 Meditations on intergroup relations
5 9 Meditations on intermarriage 1944-1970
5 10 Isaac M. Wise: American and Jew 1941
5 11 Meditations on Israel
Box Folder
6 1 Meditations on Judaism and Christ 1937-1956
6 2 Judaism and a Better World
6 3 Meditations and sermon on Love Story (both the film and the novel) 1971
6 4 Lessons of Religion
6 5 Notes and interpretations on Mendlessohn's Elyah and Athalia
6 6 The Moon is Down meditation and sermon
6 7 Post Pearl Harbor sermon and reflections
6 8 Thoughts on Propaganda
6 9 Thoughts on race relations
6 10 Reform Judaism is Dangerous
6 11 Samson and Delilah (an opera)
6 12 Wishnick family notes, reflections and poetry
6 13-14 Miscellaneous writings 1925-1965 (2 folders)
Box Folder
7 1-2 Miscellaneous writings 1967-1972, undated (2 folders)
7 3-5 Poetry undated (3 folders)
7 6 Miscellaneous notes and reflections
7 7 Drafts of sermons and notes
Box Folder
8 1 Eichmann, Adolf
8 2 Six-Day War
8 3 Soviet Jews
Series C. Confirmation Class Notes, Sermons and Scrapbooks, 1920-1979
This series is made up of one Hollinger box and contains Shankman's confirmation class lists, notes, and sermons, as well as a scrapbook presented to him by the students of his 1938 confirmation class.
The series is arranged chronologically.
Box Folder
8 4-10 Confirmation notes and sermons (Includes scrapbook from 1938) 1920-1979, undated (7 folders)
Series D. Professional Development and Chaplaincy Involvement, 1943-1979
This portion of the collection is composed of two Hollinger boxes and deals with Shankman's involvement in various professional organizations such as the Central Conference of American Rabbis and the World Union for Progressive Judaism. Also included are Shankman's notes and papers regarding his role as a chaplain in the United States Naval Reserve from 1943-1946 and the interest he maintained in the military chaplaincy throughout the remainder of his career.
Box Folder
9 1 American Jewish Committee
9 2 Anti-Defamation League Denver budgets 1977-1979
9 3 Kudan, Harold L./ Bronstein, Herbert controversy
9 4 Central Conference of American Rabbis 75th anniversary. Speech, Changing Role of the Rabbi
9 5 Jewish Community Relations Committee
9 6 World Union for Progressive Judaism Speeches made as president
9 7 World Union for Progressive Judaism Miscellaneous material
Box Folder
10 1 Facing the War Post-Peace
10 2 War and peace meditations
10 3-5 Chaplaincy 1943-1960 (3 folders)
Series E. Temple Israel (New Rochelle, N.Y.) 1932-1968
Series E. contains one Hollinger box and is material authored or collected by Shankman during his career at Temple Israel in New Rochelle, New Jersey. There are several documents illustrating Shankman's interest in the musical programs conducted at the Temple, as well as public relations material used at various times by the congregation.
Box Folder
11 1 Temple Israel (New Rochelle, N.Y.) Annual reports
11 2 Early history of Temple Israel (New Rochelle, N.Y.) 1932
11 3 Temple Israel (New Rochelle, N.Y.) Choral Club
11 4 Musical programming 1946-1959
11 5 Temple social events
11 6 30th anniversary as rabbi at Temple Israel (New Rochelle, N.Y.). 1968
11 7 Temple Israel (New Rochelle, N.Y.) Anniversary.
11 8 Temple Israel Heritage The House That Jacob Built 1973
11 9 Miscellaneous information on Temple Israel (New Rochelle, N.Y).
11 10 Transition to Pinebrook
11 11 Pinebrook consecration
11 12 Retirement and transition
11 13 Temple Israel and Pinebrook public relations

Search Terms

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

Persons and Families

Braude, William Gordon -- 1907-1988
Shankman, Jacob Kestin -- 1904-1986


Central Conference of American Rabbis
Temple Israel (New Rochelle, N.Y.)
World Union for Progressive Judaism


Holocaust, Jewish (1939-1945)
Jews -- New York (State) -- New Rochelle
Refugees, Jewish -- Germany
Religion in the public schools -- United States


Germany -- Emigration and immigration
United States -- Emigration and immigration

Genres and Forms

Jewish sermons, American


Rabbis -- New York (State) -- New Rochelle