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.