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Rabbi, Congregation Shaarey Zedek

Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters



If every decade has a dominant characteristic, the 1960's are probably best portrayed as the decade of ecumenism. The genial inspiration of Pope John XXIII has not only opened the windows of the Vatican but also has thrown open the shutters of many minds. In the spirit of this ecumenical brotherhood, the University of Detroit today honors three men [Fr. John Courtney Murray, S.J., Bishop Richard S. Emrich, and Rabbi Morris Adler] who have been outstanding exemplars of the religious ideals of John XXIII. In America's pluralistic society, the impact which religious leaders make on their fellows varies in direct proportion to the degree of their involvement with the problems of our age. Some leaders are content to stay with their flocks and concentrate on the internal crises of their individual Churches. To do this is to miss the tremendous opportunities for good which are open to those who break out of the circle of their parochial concerns and devote themselves to the demands of the whole community. When Rabbi Morris Adler came to Congregation Shaarey Zedek in 1938, he showed that he understood these ecumenical demands and he devoted his energies to answering them. Over a twenty-eight year period, he was active in the community as a leader in the National Conference of Christians and Jews, as Chairman of the United Auto Workers' Public Review Board, as a member of the Governor's Commission on Higher Education, and as a worker and leader in countless other civic organizations. Because of this, the city, the state, and other Churches in the area turned to Rabbi Adler when they wanted a representative of the Jewish community. They knew that he would speak with the authentic voice of Judaism. They knew, too, that he would carry the word of the civic community back to his brethren. Rabbi Adler had the breadth of vision and the sense of ecumenical fellowship which we admired in Pope John XXIII. Brothers under God, they are now united in the bosom of Abraham - John after an unusually long and fruitful life, Rabbi Adler snatched from us tragically at the height of his power and influence. We bow to the mystery of God's Providence. Rabbi Adler is no longer with us, but his memory will be always green. Reverend President, in tribute to the life of ecumenical dialogue which he lived, I recommend Rabbi Morris Adler for the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, to be conferred posthumously. Commencement, University of Detroit, April 30, 1966.

University of Detroit

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