The Rivkin Society web site is dedicated to the life and work of Professor Ellis Rivkin. Its purpose is to make available the archive of Rivkin's thought to all those interested in free inquiry. Professor Rivkin’s writing, which spans more than fifty years, covers many topics on a wide spectrum of concerns of both Jewish and general history. His thinking is indeed provocative. The influence of his work in the academy is legendary. This web site is meant not only for students of history, but all who may be interested in novel forms of analysis and thinking. All who have studied with Professor Rivkin in person know the spirit he brought to learning. We hope to generate the same enthusiasm and respect for the search for truth that permeated his classroom.
Dr. Ellis Rivkin
It is with profound sadness that we announce the death of our beloved
Friend, mentor, teacher and guide
Dr. Rivkin passed away on April 7, 2010 after a short illness.
We invite those who knew Dr. Rivkin and were influenced by his teaching
To leave a message of condolence including any thoughts, prayers or memories
You wish to share with our community.
May his name be for a blessing z''l
We will be posting remembrances. Please leave your message--thoughts, prayers, stories-- here
If you are not interested in leaving a tribute, please let us know you stopped by and sign our guest book-- here
Our father and grandfather, Dr. Alfred Gottschalk, held Dr. Rivkin in highest esteem as a friend and scholar. May their names be for a blessing z"l. We join those who mourn here. Our heartfelt condolences to Zelda and the Rivkin family.--The Gottschalk Family
Ellis Rivkin was my dear friend and teacher for almost 40 years. During that time, he taught by personal example, to pursue truth, for its own sake, without fear or favor. He also taught me to respect the concomitant humility that comes with an understanding of the mysteries of the universe; in my case, "high politics" and statecraft. This included a profound understaning and toleration of those who could not understand. . . or by ego blindness, refused to understand. Like Ellis' historiographic role model, Thucydides, Ellis Rivkin's work will stand for all time, and in that sense Ellis will gain that immortality which he so richely deserves. Ellis: May you rest in Peace in the World to Come. With our love-- Dr. Myron and Linda Greenberg
Despite Dr. Rivkin's reputation as an historian, theologian, scholar, and of course as a great contributor to geopolitics, he still had a sincere caring for people. --Maurice Shaw
Your biological father brings you into this world. Your spiritual father brings you to the world to come. Ellis was my spiritual father who opened worlds for me and who asked me, both by example and with words to pursue truth no matter what the cost. He shaped my Rabbinate with those words and energized my life with his love. Ellis has returned to the mind of God; an Elui who will always light our paths. Methusaleh welcomed him with a "nice try". --Mayer Selekman
I entered HUC in 1947. After about three years (1950?) Ellis joined the faculty. He was like a breath of fresh air. He showed us the relation between social and economic forces and the treatment of Jews and the changing nature of Judaism. He guided me in my thesis, a summary of which was published in the 1953 issue of the American Jewish Archives: Crisis and Reaction, a Study in Jewish Group Attitudes. As a rabbi I used his marvelous book, The Shaping of Jewish History, as the basis for a year-long discussion with a study group. After we had discussed the book, the group called Ellis on the phone and was able to ask questions to clarify his ideas. Ellis was the most influential teacher I experienced in my rabbinic education. And don't forget his enthusiasm. He loved conveying his interpretation to his students, and his students loved him. He will be sorely missed. Henry Cohen, Rabbi Emeritus, Beth David Reform Congregation, Gladwyne, PA
In the three years I spent studying with Dr. Rivkin he profoundly impacted my understanding of history, reality, and eventually the nature of congregational life. His enduring legacy is vivid and alive in the lens through which I understand institutions and people. Above all I remember his passion in speaking his truth. What a gift! His memory is a blessing. --Peter Rubinstein
For all of the loss felt by his passing,hopefully Dr. Rivkin now knows the truth of "the unity priniciple"... --Cary Kozberg
It was his marvelous smile and twinkle in his eye that I most recall. --Bill Leffler
I never thought Ellis would die -- in so many ways he hasn't. I am sure I only echo the words and sentiments of thousands of others when I say that for five years at HUC he created me, formed me, nurtured me-and I have served as a willing and enthusiastic voice of his ideas (albeit not in any way to be compared to his manifold gifts) for the 52 years of my Rabbinate. In all my education, from Kindergarten through two doctorates, no one can even come close to Ellis in the impact he had and has on my life--in creative thought, visionary and provocative ideas, contagious sense of humor, and a genuine love of his students. I will miss him, knowing that he is now dead. But he will always live within and through me and so many others. --Rabbi Jack D. Spiro
I remember Dr Rivkin teaching us in History class how to impress our baal habatim by laying out a copy of Josephus in Greek and underlining select passages in red. Some time later when he had us over to his home, there it was--Josephus open on a side table with passages underlined in red to show us how to do it! May his memory be for a blessing and may he still accept the History VI paper I owe him! --Rabbi Eliot J. Baskin
Dear Dr Rivkin: You will be missed by so many. You gave us the freedom to think and to create. You allowed us the space to question and doubt, and did so with compassion, humor and love. That is the greatest gift a teacher can bestow on his students. Rest in peace. Your spirit will live on With love and respect Richard Address
"Baruch Dayan Ha-Emet. Ellis was a stimulating teacher and had the ability to organize history in a coherent way. My sincerest condolences to Zelda and the family." --Howard Smigel
Newly Posted Written Work
Three new articles posted under Modern Judaism on 4/20/2010.
The Uniqueness of the American Jewish Experience, in Jews in a Free Society: Challenges and Opportunities, ed. Edward A. Goldman, Hebrew Union College Press, 1978.
The Jew in American Society, in The Central Conference of American Rabbis Yearbook, vol LXXVII, 1967.
A Decisive Pattern in American Jewish History, Offprint from Essays in American Jewish History, To Commemorate the Tenth Anniversary of the Founding of the American Jewish Archives under the direction of Jacob Ruder Marcus. Cincinnati. 1958.
Click here to view all written work.