Bernie Weisberg, Labor Zionist

By Anthony Weiss

Published February 24, 2006, issue of February 24, 2006.
  • Print
  • Share Share

Bernie Weisberg, former national director of Young Judea and the Labor Zionist Alliance, died last Wednesday at the age of 82.

Born in Maine, Weisberg attended Yeshiva University as an undergraduate and considered becoming a rabbi. However, when the school newspaper refused to publish an editorial he had written that supported the establishment of a Jewish state, Weisberg decided to forgo a rabbinical career. He was in the midst of studying for a doctorate in literature at New York University when he left to become national director of Young Judea in 1955. In 1974, he became assistant director of the LZA (renamed Ameinu in 2003), and two years later he was appointed national executive director.

In 1980, he married fellow Labor Zionist Bea Chankin Weisberg and moved to Los Angeles. He became executive director of Los Angeles office of the LZA. In 1985, Weisberg became the local director of the American Zionist Movement, and remained with the organization until the office closed in 1990. He then retired.

Even in retirement, Weisberg remained active in Jewish affairs. He served as president of the Los Angeles chapter of the LZA, served on the board of the Los Angeles Jewish Federation, and participated in a number of other local Jewish organizations.

One of Weisberg’s legacies is that the Labor Zionist movement remains influential in Los Angeles. His wife, currently executive director of the Los Angeles chapter of Ameinu, told the Forward that when Weisberg moved to Los Angeles he was adamant that the LZA “must be involved where the power is — the Jewish Federation.” The organization followed his suggestion, and Chankin Weisberg said that to this day, “everybody thinks we’re 20 times bigger than we are, because we come out.”

Weisberg is survived by his wife and by two children and two grandchildren from a previous marriage.






Find us on Facebook!
  • From kosher wine to Ecstasy, presenting some of our best bootlegs:
  • Sara Kramer is not the first New Yorker to feel the alluring pull of the West Coast — but she might be the first heading there with Turkish Urfa pepper and za’atar in her suitcase.
  • About 1 in 40 American Jews will get pancreatic cancer (Ruth Bader Ginsberg is one of the few survivors).
  • At which grade level should classroom discussions include topics like the death of civilians kidnapping of young Israelis and sirens warning of incoming rockets?
  • Wanted: Met Council CEO.
  • “Look, on the one hand, I understand him,” says Rivka Ben-Pazi, a niece of Elchanan Hameiri, the boy that Henk Zanoli saved. “He had a family tragedy.” But on the other hand, she said, “I think he was wrong.” What do you think?
  • How about a side of Hitler with your spaghetti?
  • Why "Be fruitful and multiply" isn't as simple as it seems:
  • William Schabas may be the least of Israel's problems.
  • You've heard of the #IceBucketChallenge, but Forward publisher Sam Norich has something better: a #SoupBucketChallenge (complete with matzo balls!) Jon Stewart, Sarah Silverman & David Remnick, you have 24 hours!
  • Did Hamas just take credit for kidnapping the three Israeli teens?
  • "We know what it means to be in the headlines. We know what it feels like when the world sits idly by and watches the news from the luxury of their living room couches. We know the pain of silence. We know the agony of inaction."
  • When YA romance becomes "Hasidsploitation":
  • "I am wrapping up the summer with a beach vacation with my non-Jewish in-laws. They’re good people and real leftists who try to live the values they preach. This was a quality I admired, until the latest war in Gaza. Now they are adamant that American Jews need to take more responsibility for the deaths in Gaza. They are educated people who understand the political complexity, but I don’t think they get the emotional complexity of being an American Jew who is capable of criticizing Israel but still feels a deep connection to it. How can I get this across to them?"
  • “'I made a new friend,' my son told his grandfather later that day. 'I don’t know her name, but she was very nice. We met on the bus.' Welcome to Israel."
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.