Levi A. Olan Sermons and Images



Typescript sermon "Justice Comes First,"
broadcast November 19, 1961

In this sermon and throughout his teaching ministry, Rabbi Olan stressed the essential connectedness of spirituality, morality, and social justice.

There is an increasing tendency in our age to relegate the religious life to ritual and worship, and to neglect the central doctrine of the covenant which is moral. Let it be said, with all justice, that observances and Ecclesiastical rites are important in the religious life. They constitute the art of faith, and are necessary toward sensitizing the will of man to respond to the demands of his God. But ritual in itself can be a mocking and flouting of the divine demands. What God requires first is that man do justly in all of his actions with other men. The religious man is committed to dealing fairly in his work and business; he is called upon to treat with equity and justice all men without exception; he is expected to fight against any manifestation of injustice to his neighbor or to himself. He may attend divine services regularly, perform the fasts or celebrate the feasts meticulously, and execute every jot and title [sic] of ceremonial observance, but if he does not do justly, then all the rest is just a pious make-believe. 

Click on the image, left, to view in the digital collection.


Reel-to-reel tape of Rabbi Olan's sermon "Justice Comes First,"
November 19, 1961

Rabbi Olan’s hard-hitting words make even more impact when they are heard being delivered in his distinctive, forceful style. The sound recordings on this tape have been digitized and posted to the internet for public use thanks to the generosity of supportive donors and the technical expertise of Southern Methodist University’s Norwick Center for Digital Services.

Click on the image, right, to hear in the digital collection.




Photograph of Decherd Turner, Levi A. Olan, Dean Joseph D. Quillian, and Bishop Noah Watson Moore at Southern Methodist University,
May 26, 1968

SMU granted honorary degrees to Rabbi Olan and Bishop Moore in 1968. Pictured with the recipients just prior to the ceremony are Bridwell Library Director Decherd Turner and Perkins School of Theology Dean Joseph Quillian. Olan’s citation reads:

Distinguished religious leader, educator, humanitarian, he has extended the honored role of rabbi (Teacher) beyond the bounds of his congregation to include the whole Southwest region. As an eloquent preacher and lecturer, he has communicated the best of the Jewish heritage to a wide audience with great integrity and compassion. As a university regent and dedicated public servant, he has upheld the human cause in many crises and has won for himself our admiration and true affection. It is this rare combination of talent and devotion that we delight to recognize this day with the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa

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Photograph of Levi A. Olan and Kate Warnick seated,
February 9, 1972

These photographs were taken during a Minister’s Week luncheon honoring Kate Warnick. Warnick served as Librarian of the SMU School of Theology (today’s Perkins School of Theology) beginning in 1924. She retired as Reference and Methodist Historical Librarian at Bridwell Library in 1979. From 1951 until 1978 Rabbi Olan also had an office in Bridwell Library. The affection between these two long-term colleagues is quite evident in the photographs.

Click on the image, right, to view in the digital collection.




Photograph of Kate Warnick receiving a blessing from Rabbi Levi A. Olan,
February 9, 1972

These photographs were taken during a Minister’s Week luncheon honoring Kate Warnick. Warnick served as Librarian of the SMU School of Theology (today’s Perkins School of Theology) beginning in 1924. She retired as Reference and Methodist Historical Librarian at Bridwell Library in 1979. From 1951 until 1978 Rabbi Olan also had an office in Bridwell Library. The affection between these two long-term colleagues is quite evident in the photographs.

Click on the image, left, to view in the digital collection.