Reuben Rinder served as the cantor of San Francisco's Congregation Emanu-El (1913-1959) and as its cantor emeritus (1959-1966). He discovered and promoted musical prodigies and liturgical works, as well as composing his own music. He founded the Society for the Advancement of Synagogue Music. He also participated in civic and religious community organizations including: the Salvation Army; the College of the Sacred Heart (a high school); the Music and Arts Institute; the International Institute for Service to Immigrants and New Americans; the San Francisco Theological Seminary; the Florence Crittenton Home; the San Francisco Browning Society; the Convocation of Religion for World Peace; the Jewish Education Society; the Community Chest; and the Ritual Committee of Emanu-El. In addition, he served as the chaplain of the Guild of Organists; taught in the College of Jewish Studies; prepared children of Eastern European families at the Esther Hellman Settlement House, in the San Bruno District, for confirmation at Emanu-El; and conducted many interfaith services.
The collection consists of correspondence; cantorial materials; musical arrangements, compositions and programs; biographical materials; certificates and honors; some of Rinder's writings and speeches; items from Rinder's tenure at Temple Emanu-El; and photographs. The correspondence consists of general correspondence as well as correspondence on particular topics (such as the commissioning of Chagall for a window at Emanu-El and Rinder's liturgical research trip to Israel) and correspondence with prominent individuals. Among the correspondents in the collection are the following: Ansel Adams; Abraham W. Binder; Henry Cowell; Monroe Deutsch; Mischa Elman; Enrique Jorda; Louis Lurie; Dorothy Warenskjold; and Rabbis Stephen Wise, Rudolph Coffee, David de Sola Pool, Ernest Bloch, Darius Milhaud, Marc Lavry, Paul Ben-Haim, and Frederick Jacobi (the last five of these are composers commissioned by Rinder to write music for Emanu-El). The collection also includes correspondence on child prodigies (including Yehudi Menuhin; Isaac Stern; and Miriam Solovieff) whom Rinder encouraged and for whom he found sponsors. Other notable items in the collection include: copies of Rinder's histories of the Board of Rabbis of Northern California and Congregation Emanu-El, together with minutes from Emanu-El (1957) discussing mixed marriages; two conversion certificates; correspondence from Bronislaw Huberman relating to the founding (1936) of the Palestine Orchestra which was composed of refugees escaping Nazi Germany, for which Rinder was the first to collect funds.