Max (Menasseh) Adler was born in Elgin, Illinois, to a German Jewish family. As a young man, he trained at the Berlin conservatory and became an accomplished violinist. Upon his return, he married Sophie Rosenwald, sister of Sears, Roebuck & Company executive Julius Rosenwald, and was invited to manage the company’s musical instrument department. Adler became an officer, director, and substantial shareholder, and at the time of his retirement he bestowed a gift to the people of Chicago: America’s first planetarium. Adler’s charitable ledger book lists a wide variety of additional causes and demonstrates his firm commitment to both Jewish and mainstream organizations.