W. Gunther Plaut, rabbi, author (born at Münster, Germany 1 Nov 1912, died at Toronto, 8 Feb 2012). He left Germany, where he was raised and educated, to escape the Nazis before WWII. He immigrated to the US and studied to become a Reform rabbi at the Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio (ordained 1939). He was Jewish chaplain in the American forces 1943-46, and has held reform pulpits at Chicago, St Paul, Minn, and Toronto's Holy Blossom Temple (1961-77), where he became senior scholar in residence in 1978.
His most important scholarly works include The Rise of Reform Judaism (1963), The Growth of Reform Judaism (1965) and The Torah: A Modern Commentary (1981); the latter, a 17-year project, supports the school of modern biblical scholarship. Hence, he has parted company with traditional Talmudists, placing himself firmly within the secular Jewish camp. Rabbi Plaut writes a weekly column for the Canadian Jewish News and writes frequently for the Globe and Mail.
Although many orthodox Jews do not accept his religious views, he has still managed to earn himself the position of chief spokesman of the Canadian Jewish community. He has turned to fiction late in life in "an attempt to reach as many people as possible." He published his first collection of short stories, Hanging Threads, in 1978, and in 1986 he published The Letter, a novel about the Holocaust.