“The death of Dick Hirsch marks the end of an era. During the 1960’s, there was much speculation over who would succeed Maurice Eisendrath (z’l) as president of the UAHC. Five members of the senior staff were in the mix: Alex Schindler (z’l), Jay Kaufman (z’l), Balfour Brickner (z’l), Al Vorspan (z’l) and Dick Hirsch.
Each of the five went on to have distinguished careers. Alex led the UAHC/URJ for 23 years, creating avenues for addressing challenges posed by America’s pluralistic society. Jay became president of B’nai B’rith International and died much too young. Balfour continued to lead the URJ’s interfaith activities before leaving to become a successful congregational rabbi. Al continued to be our movement’s conscience before dying this past year at age 95. With Dick’s passing, all are now gone.”
Click here to read the full tribute.
Rabbi Ira Youdovin
“I first met Rabbi Hirsch years ago when I was Co-Chair (with Carole Sterling) of the then World Jewry Committee of URJ. I knew right away that I was speaking with a true visionary. He was steadfast in his message about the importance of Israel in our Movement, our responsibility to further Progressive Judaism throughout the world and the importance of staying the course. As I became more engaged with the World Union for Progressive Judaism and moved into the lay leadership ranks, I had many more opportunities to talk with Rabbi Hirsch and the message never changed. He shared his books, told stories of the challenges and successes in his work and consistently provided encouragement to me and others. Always the cheerleader. He had a genuine curiosity about my family and my journey because of how important he considered family and friends. Not only the WUPJ but the world is a lesser place for his loss. I was privileged to know Rabbi Hirsch and to have the opportunity to learn and grow from his teaching.
Baruch Dayan HaEmet.”
James A. Cherney
“Rabbi Richard (Dick) Hirsch z’l played a fundamental role in the development of Reform Judaism in Latin America by reinserting, in the context of WUPJ, the Congregations founded by German immigrants who fled from Nazism. It was his inspiration and leadership that led to the creation, in Rio de Janeiro/1987, of Chazit Mitkademet – the first Zionist Reform Movement on the continent.
Since then, numerous challenges have been overcome and goals achieved. The congregational structures and human capital we currently have are the result of a collective work inspired by the ideals, worldview, and attitudes that the unforgettable Dick cultivated and taught throughout his life.
In this moment of great sadness, I can only thank the Almighty for the privilege of having had the opportunity to meet and learn from such an outstanding personality.”