By Rabbi Moscowitz.
Rabbi Herman Schaalman of Chicago is after Rabbi Plaut’s death now the last of the “Gang of Five” still alive. The self-named gang was a group of five young rabbinical students in Berlin, each chosen by Rabbi Leo Baeck in 1935 to study for the rabbinate at the Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati. Gunther Plaut, Herman Schaalman, Woli Kaelter, Alfred Wolf, Leo Lichtenberg—they were close comrades in those days, each going on to a distinguished career in the N. American congregational rabbinate.
Rabbi Schaalman, soon to be 96, was long the rabbi of Congregation Emmanuel in Chicago, and has been Emmanuel’s rabbi emeritus for some years now. When I spoke with him shortly after Rabbi Plaut’s recent death, Rabbi Schaalman reminisced about those early days and about Rabbi Plaut (and Elizabeth; Rabbi Schaalman officiated at their wedding in November 1938). He also brought me up to date on his current activities—regular teaching and tennis among them. Watch the rabbi in an interview of a year or so ago.