Max on Heschel

Esther and Max TicktinMax Ticktin Reflects on the Legacy of Abraham Joshua Heschel

Max Ticktin, along with his wife Esther, was the heart and soul of Fabrangen since arriving in Washington in 1972, a year after Fabrangen started.  Max was ordained by the Jewish Theological Seminary in 1947 and holds a masters in Hebrew literature.  For nearly 30 years, he shaped the Hillel movement at the University of Wisconsin and the University of Chicago, focusing particularly on social justice causes.  He is also a pioneer in the Havurah and Jewish Renewal movement, creating the “Upstairs Minyan” at the University of Chicago.  Max joined the faculty of the George Washington University in 1979 where he taught courses in Hebrew language and contemporary Israeli literature until his retirement in 2014.

In January 2013, Dr. Marsha Rozenblit, a noted historian and longtime Fabrangen member, sat down with Max at his home to discuss the legacy of Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, a few weeks past Heschel’s 40th yahrtzeit. The video clips below were taken from the interview; the questions above each clip were asked by Dr. Rozenblit.  Produced by Susan Barocas. Videography by Gregory Walsh. The production of this video was made possible by an anonymous gift to Fabrangen in honor of our teacher Rabbi Max Ticktin and the legacy of Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel.



Introduction: Heschel’s First Arrival at JTS [Jewish Theological Seminary]

“Max, it’s a big subject to talk about AJH, but I’d like to begin with a very simple question, and that is, what did you, as a student at JTS 1946 when Heschel came to teach there, think of Heschel? Did you know about Heschel? Did you know his work at all?”


 Heschel at JTS



Heschel’s Initial Impact on Max

“Getting back to God’s Search for Man, this had a big impact on you, intellectually and religiously. In what way, and how did that impact manifest itself?”




Heschel was “Singularly Non-Judgmental”

“What kind of relationship did you have with him in the ’50s and ’60s?”




Heschel’s Involvement in the Civil Rights Movement

“Why do you think that he [Heschel] became so involved in the civil rights movement, and what was the impact of that involvement on you, on others, on other Conservative rabbis, and on the American Jewish community?”




Heschel’s Books

“Heschel wrote a whole series of books in the 50s: The Earth is the Lord’s in 1950; God in Search of Man in 1955, Man’s Quest for God: Studies in Prayer in 1954; The Sabbath in 1951. Which of those books had the most impact on you?”




Max’s Last Contact with Heschel




Overall Impact of Heschel

“What do you think was the most important aspect of his impact on American Jews or on Jews in general? Was it his scholarship, or his activism either for civil rights or against the war in Vietnam? Was it his religious charisma, or was it his religious views?”


Anyone wishing to see the complete interview and discussion session afterwards should contact Fabrangen to receive the link and password.

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