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Theologian Scholar / Author

Born: 6 January 1906, Columbia, Pennsylvania USA

Died: 16 July 1986, Merritt Island, Brevard, Florida USA

David Max Eichhorn was the son of Joseph and Anna (Zivi) Eichhorn. Joseph was the owner of EICHHORN'S Clothing Store at 233 Locust Street, Columbia, Pennsylvania at the start of the 20th century. David attended the religious school of Temple Shaarai Shomayim in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and was confirmed there in 1921. He graduated from Columbia High School in 1923 and entered Hebrew Union College in 1924. He received his B.A. from the University of Cincinnati in 1928. In 1956, David was awarded an honorary D. H. L. from HUC-JR. Eichhorn graduated from HUC and was ordained in 1931. Eichhorn then received the degree of Doctor of Divinity from HUC in 1938.


Eichhorn was the first rabbi of Sinai Temple, Springfield, Massachusetts, 1932-1934. Unfortunately he was forced to leave this pulpit because the congregation could not pay his $1500 annual salary due to the economic depression. He then became the rabbi at Sinai Temple in Texarkana, Arkansas from 1935-1938. In 1939-1942, Eichhorn became the first rabbi of Temple Israel in Tallahassee, Florida, and was also the first Hillel director in the state of Florida for the University of Florida in Gainesville and Florida State College for Women in Tallahassee.



Eichhorn enlisted as a chaplain in the United States Army and served from 1942-1945. He was assigned to combat units throughout the war and was the first Jewish chaplain to enter Dachau, conducting the first religious service inside the liberated concentration camp on 30 April 1945. After the war, he was assigned supervisor of Jewish DP activities in the American occupation zone in Austria where he remained until returning home in 1945. After returning, he worked for the Committee on Army and Navy Religious Activities (known later as the Commission on Jewish Chaplaincy) of the National Jewish Welfare Board as Director of Field Operations of the federal chaplaincy program. While in this position he conducted spiritual retreats for Jewish chaplains and servicemen in the Caribbean, Europe and Asia. Eichhorn retained his active status in the United States Army Reserve and retired with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in 1968. He was also the president of the Association of Jewish Chaplains of the Armed Forces, 1953-1955.

Eichhorn wrote many books, including Cain, Son of the Serpent, an analysis of the midrashim on chapter four of Genesis, 1957; Musing of the Old Professor, a translation and commentary on Ecclessiastes, 1963; and Conversion to Judaism: A History and Analysis, 1965. He was known primarily for research in the fields of conversion and intermarriage. During his retirement, he became chaplain of the Kennedy Space Center and Patrick Force Base.

David Eichhorn married Zelda Socol of Texarkana, Arkansas in 1935. They had four children: Jonathan, Michael, Jeremiah, and Judith Ann.

The business location of David's parents at 233 Locust Street, shown here at about the time of David's release from active duty. 

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