Paul Steinberg, Longtime Dean and Rabbi, Is Dead at 79

Friday, July 8, 2005

By WOLFGANG SAXON
New York Times 

Rabbi Paul M. Steinberg, a dean at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in New York for 50 years, died on July 8 at a hospice in Riverdale, the Bronx. He was 79. 

Dr. Steinberg, whose home was in Scarsdale, N.Y., had been ill for some time but remained a presence on the campus in Greenwich Village until last month, the College-Institute said. In addition to his administrative duties, he was the Sinsheimer distinguished service professor of Jewish religious education and human relations at the institution, an educational and intellectual center of Reform Judaism. 

Dr. Steinberg, a Zionist and a disciple of Rabbi Stephen S. Wise, inaugurated the New York institution's Year-in-Israel Program for its students in 1971 and established an Israel Rabbinical Program in the 1980's to strengthen the Jerusalem branch's outreach. Its graduates serve in synagogues and schools of the Israeli Progressive Movement. 

Paul Martin Steinberg was born on Jan. 29, 1926, on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. He enrolled in the Herzliya Hebrew Teachers Academy and went to City College to study education, sociology and psychology. 

After graduating in 1946, he earned a master's in education, specializing in psychology. He worked for Americans for Haganah, an organization that smuggled arms to Jewish fighters in what became Israel, even as he went through the rabbinical program at the transdenominational Jewish Institute of Religion, where Rabbi Wise was his mentor. 

Dr. Steinberg was a member of the institute's last ordination class in 1949, the year before its merger with Hebrew Union. (He received his doctorate in education from Columbia in 1961.) 

In 1955, he became an instructor in education and human relations at Union College-Institute. He was named dean of the school of education and sacred music shortly thereafter. He helped develop a music degree program, set up satellite schools in the suburbs offering certification in Jewish education and was well on his way to becoming the College-Institute's longest serving dean. 

Serving under four presidents, he was a faculty member as professor of human relations and education, a special assistant to the president, dean of faculty and dean of the New York school and vice president for communal development. 

Dr. Steinberg is survived by his wife of 58 years, Trudy Strudler Steinberg; a daughter, Alana Wittenberg of Los Angeles; a son, Dr. Alan L. of Stony Brook, N.Y.; and seven grandchildren.


Founded in 1875, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion is North America's leading institution of higher Jewish education and the academic, spiritual, and professional leadership development center of Reform Judaism. HUC-JIR educates men and women for service to North American and world Jewry as rabbis, cantors, educators, and nonprofit management professionals, and offers graduate programs to scholars and clergy of all faiths. With centers of learning in Cincinnati, Jerusalem, Los Angeles, and New York, HUC-JIR's scholarly resources comprise the renowned Klau Library, The Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives, research institutes and centers, and academic publications. In partnership with the Union for Reform Judaism and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, HUC-JIR sustains the Reform Movement's congregations and professional and lay leaders. HUC-JIR's campuses invite the community to cultural and educational programs illuminating Jewish heritage and fostering interfaith and multiethnic understanding. www.huc.edu