Skip to main content

HUC-JIR Mourns the Passing of Rabbi Isaiah Zeldin

Main Content
Monday, January 29, 2018

Rabbi Isaiah ZeldinThe Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion community mourns the passing of Rabbi Isaiah Zeldin '46, founding Dean of our Los Angeles Campus, and father and grandfather of HUC-JIR Professors Dr. Michael Zeldin and Dr. Sivan Zakai. Rabbi Zeldin died peacefully on January 26, 2018, at the age of 97.

Born in New York City to a Hebrew- and Yiddish-speaking family, Isaiah “Shy” Zeldin received his B.A. from Brooklyn College and his M.A. and Ordination from HUC-JIR in Cincinnati in 1946. In 1953, Rabbi Zeldin came to California to serve in the dual capacity of Director of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations (now URJ), Western Region, and Dean of the Los Angeles College of Jewish Studies, and one year later, as founding Dean of the Los Angeles Campus of HUC-JIR. In early 1964, after five years at Temple Emanuel, he founded the Stephen S. Wise Temple, which has become one of the largest Jewish congregations in the world. Rabbi Zeldin was also the founder of Milken Community High School, the largest full-day Jewish high school in the United States.

A towering rabbinical figure, Rabbi Zeldin was a determined visionary and architect of Los Angeles’ maturation into one of the world’s great Jewish cities. As a builder, leader, and conscience of his community, his personal and communal legacy will endure.

Donations may be made to Stephen Wise Temple and Schools to establish the Rabbi Isaiah Zeldin Rabbinic Chair, to honor of his visionary leadership and in continuation of his legacy; or to Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, to establish the Rabbi Isaiah Zeldin DeLeT Scholarship Fund, to honor his abiding belief in the power of day-school education and the preparation of a new generation of day school teachers.


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