Rabbi Stanley Rabinowitz Dies on 95th Birthday

By JTA

Published June 11, 2012.
  • Print
  • Share Share

Rabbi Stanley Rabinowitz, who for 26 years guided Washington’s largest and oldest Conservative synagogue, died on his 95th birthday.

Rabinowitz died Sunday at his daughter’s home in San Diego, where he had lived for the past year.

During his nearly three decades as the spiritual leader of Adas Israel Congregation, he preached to and spiritually led presidents, Israeli prime ministers, Supreme Court justices, countless members of Congress, administration officials and journalists..

Rabinowitz led his congregation and much of the city through the turbulent years of the Kennedy assassination and that of his senator brother Robert, the killing of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the riots that spread across the District in its wake, the Vietnam War and the Six-Day War in the Middle East, and the fight for Soviet Jewry.

King spoke at a city meeting Rabinowitz hosted at Adas Israel in 1963.

Years later in 1979, Rabinowitz was asked to quickly round up 30 skull caps and pamphlets with the transliterated prayer for grace after meals for a ceremonial Shabbat meal at Camp David during peace negotiations between the Egyptians and Israelis. Rabinowitz later attended the signing of the peace treaty on the front lawn of the White House and a large formal dinner.

Rabinowitz was born in Duluth, Minn. and raised in Des Moines, Iowa. He graduated from the State University of Iowa with a Bachelor of Arts and earned a Master’s Degree in Sociology from Yale University and a Master of Hebrew Literature from the Jewish Theological Seminary, which also awarded him its Doctor of Divinity degree Honoris Causa. He was an Honorary Fellow of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

He began his career in 1943 as director of the Midwest office of JTS and the Council of Conservative Synagogues of Chicago, traveling as an itinerant rabbi from community to community to fill in for men serving overseas during World War II. He subsequently became director of Field Services for the United Synagogue of America and was its acting executive director in 1946.

In 1947, Rabinowitz moved to the congregational rabbinate, serving three Conservative movement congregations in a 40-year career in the pulpit.

The number of his prominent congregants in Washington was high. In addition, most of Israel’s ambassadors attended his services, as did Prime Ministers Golda Meir and Yitzhak Rabin. Rabin and Ambassador Simcha Dinitz celebrated their sons’ bar mitzvahs there, as did many hundreds others.

When Rabinowitz retired from the pulpit in 1986, Adas Israel elected him rabbi emeritus for life. President Ronald Regan sent a formal letter of congratulations. He was also elected president of the Rabbinical Assembly in 1977 for two terms.

He married Anita Lifson in 1945 and they had three children. Anita died in 2009 and their son Nathaniel in 2007.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • More than 50 former Israeli soldiers have refused to serve in the current ground operation in #Gaza.
  • "My wife and I are both half-Jewish. Both of us very much felt and feel American first and Jewish second. We are currently debating whether we should send our daughter to a Jewish pre-K and kindergarten program or to a public one. Pros? Give her a Jewish community and identity that she could build on throughout her life. Cons? Costs a lot of money; She will enter school with the idea that being Jewish makes her different somehow instead of something that you do after or in addition to regular school. Maybe a Shabbat sing-along would be enough?"
  • Undeterred by the conflict, 24 Jews participated in the first ever Jewish National Fund— JDate singles trip to Israel. Translation: Jews age 30 to 45 travelled to Israel to get it on in the sun, with a side of hummus.
  • "It pains and shocks me to say this, but here goes: My father was right all along. He always told me, as I spouted liberal talking points at the Shabbos table and challenged his hawkish views on Israel and the Palestinians to his unending chagrin, that I would one day change my tune." Have you had a similar experience?
  • "'What’s this, mommy?' she asked, while pulling at the purple sleeve to unwrap this mysterious little gift mom keeps hidden in the inside pocket of her bag. Oh boy, how do I answer?"
  • "I fear that we are witnessing the end of politics in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I see no possibility for resolution right now. I look into the future and see only a void." What do you think?
  • Not a gazillionaire? Take the "poor door."
  • "We will do what we must to protect our people. We have that right. We are not less deserving of life and quiet than anyone else. No more apologies."
  • "Woody Allen should have quit while he was ahead." Ezra Glinter's review of "Magic in the Moonlight": http://jd.fo/f4Q1Q
  • Jon Stewart responds to his critics: “Look, obviously there are many strong opinions on this. But just merely mentioning Israel or questioning in any way the effectiveness or humanity of Israel’s policies is not the same thing as being pro-Hamas.”
  • "My bat mitzvah party took place in our living room. There were only a few Jewish kids there, and only one from my Sunday school class. She sat in the corner, wearing the right clothes, asking her mom when they could go." The latest in our Promised Lands series — what state should we visit next?
  • Former Israeli National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror: “A cease-fire will mean that anytime Hamas wants to fight it can. Occupation of Gaza will bring longer-term quiet, but the price will be very high.” What do you think?
  • Should couples sign a pre-pregnancy contract, outlining how caring for the infant will be equally divided between the two parties involved? Just think of it as a ketubah for expectant parents:
  • Many #Israelis can't make it to bomb shelters in time. One of them is Amos Oz.
  • According to Israeli professor Mordechai Kedar, “the only thing that can deter terrorists, like those who kidnapped the children and killed them, is the knowledge that their sister or their mother will be raped."
  • 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.