“I have fond memories of Rabbi Dick Hirsch when I was a youngster growing up at Temple Beth Israel in Chicago. Rabbi Hirsch was then the director of the Chicago/Great Lakes Federation of the UAHC (now the URJ), and was always our congregation’s second rabbi (along with Ernst Lorge) on the High Holy Days. I also got to know him when I was a camper at “Union Institute” (now OSRUI), the Reform Movement’s first summer camp. He was a kind and gentle person, and I was very said to hear of his death. He was certainly a blessing in my life.”
Rabbi Linda Steigman
“Rabbi Dick Hirsch z’l and I were members of a small group of US Reform rabbis linked to Emanuel Congregation. Chicago. We both had our first jobs as an assistant rabbi and we both loved Chicago. He always recognized our shared past, when I became the ‘senior’ rabbi at Emanuel he wrote a note to me of praise and encouragement. When I became involved in the early HIV/AIDS pandemic, I contacted him about the issues in Israel and how our movement could help. Dick, was an extraordinary politician, his prophetic sensitivities were balanced by the pragmatism of Israeli realities. He quietly guided me, and our US movement, to offer some of the earliest educational materials, even making sure they were translated into Russian.
He was as all know, a rare generational visionary, but I hope he will be remembered also as the even rarer, ‘Mensch’ who helped all of us constantly behind more doors than we will ever realize. His life was a unique blessing, may his memory guide us to serve others as he served us.”
Rabbi Joseph A Edelheit
“I was probably around 14 years old when I met Rabbi Hirsch for the first time at the then fledgling Reform congregation in Netanya, even before it became officially known as the Natan Ya Congregation. He spoke to us with conviction and vigor of the importance of establishing Reform strongholds throughout the country. It was his vision that a congregation had to be established in the then small town that brought the first of the founding member, the late Dennis Saunders, to establish this community that since the High Holy Days of 1969 has not lost a beat of activity, despite rough times.
Rabbi Hirsch was excited that someone like myself, mostly interested in his high school studies in electronics was also the lay cantor of the congregation starting at the tender age of 14. We kept in touch ever since. He was so pleased to learn that decades later I have become the elected chair of the IMPJ and saw that as part of a dream come true, that Israeli born leaders who were with the Movement from their young age, take the reign and continue the work that has begun decades before hand. Throughout my time in office he was always there for good advice and perspective, even when we did not agree on certain issues, at least as long that you could provide good reason and justification.”
Click here to read the full tribute.
Reuven Marko | Co-Chair International Advisory Council – IMPJ