In Memoriam: Max Ticktin

Professor emeritus was honored with eponymous endowed chair in Israel studies in 2015.

Max Ticktin. (Judy Licht)
Max Ticktin. (Judy Licht)
July 06, 2016

Max Ticktin, a professor emeritus of Hebrew language and literature at the George Washington University and a cornerstone of the university’s Judaic Studies Program for more than 30 years, died July 3 at his home in Washington, D.C. He was 94.

Rabbi Ticktin’s long career in education began as director of Hillel at the University of Wisconsin in Madison and then at the University of Chicago. In 1970, according to the Washington Post, Rabbi Ticktin moved to Washington to serve as Hillel’s assistant director. He received the organization’s 85th Anniversary Alumni Award in 2008.

He joined the GW faculty in 1979 and taught courses in Hebrew language and literature and contemporary Israeli literature until his retirement in 2014. After he retired, a grant from the Morningstar Foundation established the Max Ticktin Professorship of Israel Studies in his name.

Daniel Schwartz, associate professor of history, remembered meeting Rabbi Ticktin on his first day at GW in 2007.

As Dr. Schwartz unpacked boxes in his office, sometimes exchanging brief pleasantries with his new colleagues, the rabbi stopped in to greet him.

Their conversation lasted for three hours.

“He was amazingly present and attuned. He really listened,” Dr. Schwartz said. “I don’t remember the details of our conversation, I just remember the fact that he was willing to come and spend so much time with me.

“He had an incredible gift for connecting with people as individuals. Everyone felt they had a special relationship with him.”

Rabbi Ticktin was “an anchor, a bearer of memory,” Dr. Schwartz said.

“To me he’s really a model of what friendship should be about and what it means to live a life with integrity,” he said. “I think that’s another role he played for many of us—an ideal we aspire to.”