RABBI HAROLD SCHULWEIS — a famed Conservative rabbi who rallied for synagogues to become places for activism, counseling, and charity — died Dec. 18 at his Los Angeles-area home following a long battle with heart disease. He was 89.
He served as religious leader of Valley Beth Shalom in Encino, Calif., one of the largest congregations in the United States, for nearly 45 years. The author of nine books, Schulweis helped found several Jewish organizations, including the Jewish Foundation for the Righteous, Mazon, and Jewish World Watch.
Rabbi Julie Schonfeld, the executive vice president of the Conservative movement’s Rabbinical Assembly, said in a statement that Schulweis’s “vast knowledge of Jewish tradition, combined with his tremendous passion and his palpable gift of empathy, made him a force for American Jewry to reckon with.”
Born in the Bronx, Schulweis was raised in a secular Jewish family, but began studying religious texts as a teenager and then attended Yeshiva College. He received his rabbinic ordination from the Jewish Theological Seminary in 1950.
He is survived by his wife of 64 years, Malkah; four children; and 11 grandchildren.