Abba Hillel Silver
To the Editor:
I have recently come upon David G. Dalin’s review of Abba Hillel Silver by Marc Lee Raphael [Books in Review, January] and I am appalled by the description of Rabbi Silver.
For five years—from 1945 to 1953—I served as Abba Hillel Silver’s secretary. On the basis of this experience, I find the statement that he had “a strong distaste for the pastoral work, and that there were complaints about his congregation and his rabbinic vocation” far from true. Rabbi Silver never neglected his pastoral responsibilities and in the city of Cleveland enjoyed the respect and admiration of many non-Jews, who regularly attended his weekly sermons. For the most part his congregation idolized him. His wife, Virginia, not even mentioned in the review, was a most tactful woman, able to bring her husband down to earth when he occasionally became overbearing. . . . For myself, I never heard a harsh word from him, nor did he ever raise his voice to me. . . .
Even allowing for my personal identification with this most distinguished man, the author’s comments give a most inaccurate picture of Abba Hillel Silver.
Elizabeth Rice Carson
David G. Dalin writes:
The quotation in my review to which Mrs. Carson objects—that Abba Hillel Silver had “a strong distaste for the pastoral work”—was not my statement but that of the book’s author, Marc Lee Raphael, on page 212.