Lewis M. Barth, Rabbi, Ph.D.

Contact Information

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Home: 818.783.4877
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Cell: 818.613.8494
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Messages Only: 818.574.6130
Professor Emeritus of Midrash and Related Literature

HUC-JIR/Los Angeles

Program/School: 
Rabbinical Program, Los Angeles
Academic Field: 
Midrash
Research Interests: 
Rabbinic biblical interpretation ; Midrashic texts and manuscripts ; Reform Berit Mila (ritual circumcision) ; Aramaic; Psychoanalysis; Aggadah and Rabbinic Tales; Pirque d'Rabbi Eliezer (Chapters of Rabbi Eliezer)

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Rabbi Lewis M. Barth is Professor Emeritus of Midrash and Related Literature at Hebrew Union College-Los Angeles and former Dean. He is a native of Los Angeles, graduated from UCLA, studied at HUC’s Los Angeles Campus and was ordained and has his Ph.D. from HUC in Cincinnati. He has been on the faculty at the Los Angeles Campus since 1969 and served as Dean from 1970-1979 and again from 1997 to 2006. Every other summer for over twenty years taught about Judaism, Jewish values and aspects of rabbinic literature in Berlin to German Protestant theology students at the Institute Kirche und Judentum. Since his retirement from the deanship he continued to teach at HUC until June, 2012. He is presently a Research Candidate at the Institute of Contemporary Psychoanalysis in Los Angeles, where he is in psychoanalytic training; his psychoanalytic practice is in Encino, CA.

 

During his deanship, Rabbi Barth was primarily responsible for bringing Rabbinic Ordination to the HUC’s Los Angeles Campus, initiated a program that has now become the Institute for Judaism and Sexual Orientation, taken a leadership role in bringing to the College the Maurice Amado Sephardic Studies Curricular Project and served as the HUC’s liaison with the University of Southern California during a period of great expansion of the relationship between the two neighboring institutions of higher learning. At HUC his courses included Midrash, Aramaic and seminars on Rabbis as Charismatics and Wonder-workers, “the Ten Trials of Abraham,” and Ancient Rabbinic Sermons. As part of the HUC--USC joint Judaic studies program for several years he taught “an Introduction to Jewish History” and created and taught the course “Jerusalem as a Holy City for Jews, Christians and Muslims.” 

 

Rabbi Barth is the Founding Co-Chair of the Berit Mila Board of Reform Judaism and —working with Dr. David James, Founding Chair of the Berit Mila Board—was responsible for a program which has now trained over three hundred physicians and certified nurse mid-wives as mohalim (officiants at Jewish circumcision). In this capacity he developed and edited the book Berit Mila in the Reform Context, the first major work in Reform Judaism dealing with this subject. Rabbi Barth also edited, with Ruth Nussbaum, of blessed memory, a volume of sermons, speeches and essays of Rabbi Max Nussbaum: Max Nussbaum: From Berlin to Hollywood, A Mid-Century Vision of Jewish Life. (Nussbaum served at Temple Israel of Hollywood from 1943--1974 and was a renowned Reform and Zionist leader in the Los Angeles and national Jewish communities.) 

 

For further Information, see: California Dreaming: The Life and Times of Rabbi Lewis M. Barth, Ph.D. (PDF)  [HUC Chronicle, 2006. Issue 67, pp. 14-22]

 

Selected Publications and Edited Works

PARR Reports

“Thoughts on Forgiveness in Psychoanalysis and Judaism,” in Between Jewish Tradition and Modernity: rethinking an old opposition, Essays in Honor of David Ellenson, edited by Michael A. Meyer and David N. Myers (Wayne State University Press: Detroit, 2014), pp. 237-248.

“Midrashic Thinking: An Appreciation and a Caution,” in Midrash and Medicine: Healing Body and Soul in the Jewish Interpretive Tradition, edited by Rabbi William Cutter (Jewish Lights Publishing: Woodstock, Vermont, 2011), pp. 234-242.

THE MAX NUSSBAUM MEMORIAL LECTURE

Public Lecture Topics
Thoughts on Forgiveness in Psychoanalysis and Judaism
Rabbinic Stories and Ancient Wonderworkers
Mythology and the Causes of Hatred: Contemporary and Ancient Perspectives
“Parashat Metzora: Slander, its Causes and Consequences: Text Study of a Midrashic Understanding”
“Thinking Ahead to Tisha B'av: Text Study of a Midrashic View of Ancient-Modern Social Justice Issues”
The Emergence of Rabbinic Judaism: Continuity or Break with the Past
The Rabbinic Search for Values: The Midrash