Rabbi Jacob Bernard Agus (Agushewitz)

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Rabbi Jacob Bernard Agus (Agushewitz)'s Geni Profile

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Jacob Bernard Agus (Agushewitz)

Birthplace: Svislač, Svislach District, Hrodna Province, Belarus
Death: September 26, 1986 (74)
Immediate Family:

Son of Judah Leib Agushewitz and Beila Deborah Agushewitz
Husband of Miriam Agus
Father of Private; Private; Private and Private
Brother of Jean Feller; Professor Irving (Isaac) Abraham A. Agus; Dr. Haim Agus; Paul Agus and Esther Stein

Occupation: Rabbi, theologian
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About Rabbi Jacob Bernard Agus (Agushewitz)

From Wikipedia (English):

Jacob B. Agus (November 8, 1911 – September 26, 1986) was a liberal Conservative rabbi and theologian who played a key role in the Conservative Rabbinical Assembly.


Jacob Agus was a leading thinker of the Conservative movement's liberal wing, heading Rabbinical Assembly committees on the sabbath, prayerbook, and ideology of the Conservative movement. He was also a rabbi of Beth El Congregation in Baltimore, Maryland, and a promoter of interfaith communication – which he referred to as "dialogue" or "trialogue."

Agus (the family name was originally Agushewitz), was born in Poland in 1911 and his family emigrated to the United States in 1927. He attended the Talmudic Academy, New York, graduating in 1929, received his BA from Yeshiva College in 1933, and received semicha by Moshe Soloveichik at the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary of Yeshiva University in 1935. In 1940 he received a PhD in Jewish Thought from Harvard University and married Miriam Shore the same year. His older brother was Irving A. Agus, who taught medieval Jewish History at Yeshiva University.

Agus's rabbinic career included Congregation Beth Abraham, Norfolk, Virginia, 1934–1936; Temple Ashkenaz, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1936–1940; Agudas Achim North Shore Congregation, Chicago, 1940–1942; and Beth Abraham United Synagogue Center, Dayton, Ohio, 1942–1950. In 1945, Agus formally affiliated with the Conservative movement by joining the Rabbinical Assembly. In 1950 he became the rabbi of Beth El Congregation in Baltimore, where he remained for thirty years, retiring in 1980.

As an influential member of the Conservative movement's Rabbinical Assembly, where he was active in the Committee on Jewish Law and Standards, chaired the Prayer Book Committee (1952–1956) and worked to define Conservative Jewish ideology through a series of conferences, committees and other gatherings, including the Continuing Conference on Conservative Ideology (1956–1963). With Morris Adler and Theodore Friedman he co-authored the 1950 Responsum on the Sabbath that allowed Conservative Jews to use electricity and drive on the Sabbath.

For more details of his role, see Conservative Halakha and Committee on Jewish Law and Standards

He taught at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, St. Mary's Seminary and Ecumenical Institute (where he was also a founder of the Interfaith Roundtable), and at both Temple University and Dropsie College in Philadelphia.

In 1965 Agus accepted an invitation to teach at the Seminario Rabinico Latinoamerico in Buenos Aires. He remained in Argentina for two months, then traveled to Brazil where he spent two weeks lecturing under the auspices of the American Jewish Committee and the Brazilian Institute for Culture and Information. In Latin America Agus developed continuing ties with students and colleagues – among them Marshall Meyer, then director of the Seminario. These ties are documented by correspondence in this collection.

In addition to his rabbinical and scholarly work, Agus adopted the cause of interfaith and interracial relations, dubbing his forays into Jewish/Christian and Jewish/Christian/Muslim relations "dialogue" and "trialogue." He also served on the boards of the Baltimore National Council on Christians and Jews, and the predominantly African-American Morgan State University, also in Baltimore.

Professor Steven Katz has summed up his work as follows: "a remarkable American Rabbi and scholar, illuminating Agus' commitment to Jewish people everywhere, his profound and unwavering spirituality, his continual reminders of the very real dangers of pseudo-Messianism and misplaced romantic zeal, and his willingness to take politically and religiously unpopular stands."

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Rabbi Jacob Bernard Agus (Agushewitz)'s Timeline

November 8, 1911
Svislač, Svislach District, Hrodna Province, Belarus
September 26, 1986
Age 74