4 thoughts on “Rabbi Arthur Hertzberg is Dead – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم
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  1. A great loss. The English-language Forward had a very good, personal and heartfelt, article by a student of Hertzberg. You can find it here:


    Here’s how it begins:

    Arthur Hertzberg: Rabbi, Activist, Communal Leader
    by Samuel Norich / April 21, 2006

    Rabbi Arthur Hertzberg, who died this week at 84, had an enormous capacity for friendship and generosity. But at the heart of everything he did was an unbending moral standard that he applied to everything and everyone he knew.

    The sharpness of Hertzberg’s mind was legendary among his acolytes, among whom I was honored to count myself. His acuity marked him as one of the most articulate and engaged leaders of the Jewish people in our time. Early on he was a rabbi, schooled by the likes of Mordecai Kaplan and Abraham Heschel. Then he was a scholar, compiler of the seminal anthology “The Zionist Idea” and the author of a dozen other essential works. Later on he became a civil rights activist and a Jewish communal leader of worldwide importance. In everything he did, he seemed to be playing all his previous and future roles.

    I first met Hertzberg when he was teaching my graduate seminar on Zionism at Columbia University. It was the spring of 1968 …

  2. Arieh: Thanks for that link. I will read it later this evening.

    I was never a student of Hertzberg’s but wish I had been. I attended the Joint Program during the period when he still taught at Columbia. But my JTS Judaica course load so subsumed my academic interest in sacred subjects that I couldn’t imagine taking a Judaica course at Columbia. I did strictly secular stuff there. I should’ve made an exception. Hertzberg would’ve been much more stimulating than many of my JTS teachers I’m sure.

    He was part of this great learned generation of rabbis who were fabulous preachers & teachers AND politically engaged. Leonard Beerman and Harold Schulweis are 2 other examples fr. LA. They just don’t make ’em like that anymore.

    UPDATE: That was a truly remarkable obituary. Truly a tzadik!

  3. Arthur was a friend of my family’s and my Dutch godfather, as he put it. I studied with him when I was 18, and worked briefly for him after college. He was a truly good and lovely man, although he had an ego to go with his intellect and a sharp tongue when he was annoyed. I wish the obits had talked more about his relationship with his father, who was one of the great heroic influences on his life.

  4. James: Thanks for that comment. Yes, one could tell he had quite an ego. I’ve known several extraordinary rabbis and almost all of them have the same sized egos. I guess it comes w. the territory. For the great ones you have to make some allowances. Bearing in mind that those great egos sometimes encourage some of them to do things that are less than worthy of their gifts (though I’m sure that was not the case w. Rabbi Hertzberg).

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