Rabbi Max Ticktin, Leader of Hillel and Havurah Movements, Dies at 94

In addition to founding numerous Jewish institutions, Ticktin was a tenured academic and a torchbearer of the left-wing perspective on Israel.

Rabbi Max Ticktin at George Washington University, Washington, DC.
Screenshot from washingtonjewishweek.com/

Rabbi Max Ticktin, a leader in the Hillel movement who also was central to the havurah movement, has died.

Ticktin, who also was a founder of the Breira group to express a left-wing perspective on Israel, died on Sunday at the age of 94.

Ticktin, who was ordained a Conservative rabbi by the Jewish Theological Seminary in 1946, and then traveled to Israel with his wife Esther to study at Hebrew University. They both joined the Haganah, the forerunner of the Israel Defense Forces.

The couple then returned to the United States, and Ticktin was tapped in 1950 to serve as Hillel director at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, a position he held until 1964, when he was tapped to serve as Hillel director at the University of Chicago. In 1970, Ticktin moved to Washington to serve as assistant director of National Hillel until 1980, when he left Hillel to teach on the college level.

Ticktin served for more than 30 years on the faculty of the George Washington University’s Program of Judaic Studies, retiring last year as professor of Hebrew Language and Literature. At the time of his retirement, the university established the the Max Ticktin Professorship of Israel Studies.

He was a founder of Breira in 1973 and served on its board until the group closed in 1977.

Following his work creating the “Upstairs Minyan” at the University of Chicago, a precursor to the Havurah movement, Ticktin helped found the Farbrangen Havurah and was an active member until his death.

His funeral will be held on Wednesday at 11:30 a.m. at Tiferet Israel Congregation in Washington, DC.