November 7, 2014

Herman Wouk’s link to Federation

Filed under: Federation people, found in the archives — susanwoodland @ 1:20 pm

Rabbi Isaac Trainin started Federation’s Commission on Synagogue Relations and Religious Affairs Committee, and remained as head of the Commission for several decades.  (To see previous blog posts on Rabbi Trainin and his work at Federation, search the blog on “Trainin”.)  While processing his papers, the names Victor Wouk and Herman Wouk turned up.

Although the records are incomplete, it appears that Victor was chairman of the Religious Affairs Committee at some point in the 1950s and 1960s.  Herman was his brother, the author whose book, “This is My God”, sat on the bookshelves of many Jewish families in those decades.  It is no doubt because of Victor’s connection to Federation, and to the Commission on Synagogue Relations, that there was an attempt to pull Herman into the Federation family as well.

Rabbi Trainin received this letter from Herman Wouk in 1959, indicating his support for Federation even in the absence of a physical presence in New York:

Letter from Herman Wouk to Rabbi Trainin, 1959

Letter from Herman Wouk to Rabbi Trainin, 1959

Victor, younger by 4 years, was successful in his own right.  His obituary in the New York Times, June 12, 2005, describes his work in developing early electric and hybrid cars.  He was born in the Bronx in 1919 and received his doctoral degree from the California Institute of Technology in electrical engineering in 1942.

His connection with Federation extended beyond the Religious Affairs Committee.  According the New York Times, Victor was an “active philanthropist”, a board member of the 92nd Street Y (a Federation agency), and a “chairman” of the Federation of Jewish Philanthropies (presumably the chairman of an FJP committee).  Victor died in 2005.

In addition to “This is My God”, Herman Wouk is perhaps best known for his novels “The Caine Mutiny” (1951) and “Marjorie Morningstar” (1955).  His most recent novel, “The Lawgiver”, was published in 2012.



  1. Marjorie Morningstar is one of my favorite books, and it does not surprise me that Wouk would have an affinity for Trainin and Federation–the end of Marjorie Morningstar, I recall, criticizes intermarriage and has Marjorie leaving her non-Jewish flings and settling down happily with a nice Jewish man. So happy you shared this!


    Comment by Avigail — November 7, 2014 @ 7:09 pm

    • Thanks for your comment Avigail; glad you are reading the blog. I think I’m overdue for another look at Marjorie Morningstar.


      Comment by susanwoodland — November 10, 2014 @ 10:47 am

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