“Last February, I had the honor of exchanging an e-mail correspondence with Rabbi Hirsch. Carole Sterling had kindly introduced me to him. I wanted to devote an article to him in my community’s quarterly, Beth Hillel in Brussels.

I was intimidated to enter into an exchange with the one I consider the architect of contemporary Reform Judaism because like Zelig, the character imagined by Woody Allen, Rabbi Hiirsch was on all fronts.

Here’s what he told me about his favorite quotes:

One of my favorite phrases is from Pirke Avot -Ethics of the Fathers –Chapter 4: 1 ‘Who is honored? One who gives honor to others.’
My life has in essence been a ‘tale of two cities’ – Washington and Jerusalem.
In Washington I was the founding director of the Religious Action Center from 1962-1973, and then our family moved to Jerusalem, when I became the professional head of the World Union for Progressive Judaism and moved the International office to Jerusalem.

It was my privilege in both cities to relate to the key political, intellectual, and religious leadership of both the United States and Israel,
I discovered that most of the leaders were dedicated. I considered it an honor to work with them and have always been grateful for the opportunities to work with leaders who made history, and also with many unheralded persons whose commitment to social justice and to the Jewish heritage perpetuate the Jewish people.

His death makes us sad.

We can only console ourselves with the idea that this man has helped to make people better.

His influence will still have an impact on the next generations.”

Gilbert Lederman | Vice-Président, Synagogue Beth Hillel, Brussels

“So many words come to mind when I think of Dick Hirsch. In the past, I recall commenting to friends that if one were to look up the word ‘tenacious’ in the Oxford English Dictionary, one would likely find a photo of Dick Hirsch as part of the definition. Yes he was learned, yes he was clear about what was important to him and to Jews everywhere, yes he was a visionary and yes he was charming but it was his tenacity that allowed him to accomplish so much in his lifetime. Once Dick determined that this or that was important, skeptics had better get out of the way!

Among the great leaders of our Reform/Progressive Jewish Movement since the end of the Second World War, no one was more effective than Dick in inculcating in others the importance of Jewish Peoplehood. Too often I think that that was something of a ‘lonely battle’ for, truth be told, as a Movement we still have a very long way to go, especially here in the Diaspora, in instilling the importance of K’lal Yisrael in many of our Jews. Perhaps those of us who want to honor Dick’s memory could best do so by more tenaciously following his lead in that crucial area of Jewish life.”

Lennard Thal

“My wife, Sandy (z”l), and I first met Rabbi Dick and Bela Hirsch (z”l) when we moved to Washington, DC in 1971. We babysat their children while they were in Israel in 1972 planning their aliyah. Later, Dick brought me into the WUPJ and became my guide and mentor over the decades. He was one of the very few people I have been privileged to know who was a combination of visionary, implementer, and rain-maker. He dreamed a positive future and had the skills to make that dream become a reality. Dick’s illustrious career spanned generations, and his dreams live on through the institutions he established and the many people whose lives he touched. He will be missed.”
Steve Breslauer

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