In Memoriam: Dr. David Weisberg, z''l

Monday, June 25, 2012

It is with profound sadness that I inform you of the death of our esteemed colleague and friend, Dr. David Weisberg, z”l, Professor of Bible and Semitic Languages at HUC-JIRCincinnati.  Associated with the College-Institute for forty-five years, he was an internationally renowned scholar, beloved teacher, and mentor to generations of our students.

Born in New York City, Dr. Weisberg received his A.B. from Columbia College (1960), his B.H.L. from Seminary College (1960), and his Ph.D. from Yale University (1965).  He was ordained at HUC-JIR in Cincinnati in 1977. 

Dr. Weisberg was Research Associate at the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago (1965-67) prior to joining the HUC-JIR faculty in 1967.

He served as Asociate Editor of the Hebrew Union College Annual and President of the Mid-West Society of Biblical Literature.  During the course of his distinguished career, he was a recipient of a grant from the International Research and Exchange Foundation to the USSR (1974) and a Woodrow Wilson Fellow (1960-61). Dr. Weisberg travelled internationally to conduct research and present papers at scholarly conferences.

In addition to his numerous scholarly articles in Jewish Quarterly Review, Journal of the American Oriental Society, and Yale Near Eastern Researches, he was a contributor to the Oxford New English Bible Commentary, author of the first volume of Yale Near Eastern Researches, and research associate of the Chicago Assyrian Dictionary.  The publications he authored, edited, or to which he contributed articles include Neo-Babylonian Texts in the Oriental Institute Collection; Les Cités Royales des Pays de la Bible Reconstituées; Guild Structure and Political Allegiance in Early Achaemenid Mesopotamia; The Late Babylonian Texts of the Oriental Institute Collection; Life and Culture in the Ancient Near East; Slavery in Babylonia; Royal Women of the Neo-Babylonian Period; The Tablet and the Scroll; Texts from the Time of Nebuchadnezzar; and The Three Nebuchadnezzars of the Seventh and Sixth Centuries.

For many years, Dr. Weisberg worked with the late Dr. I.O. Lehman, Curator of Manuscripts at the Klau Library, on a project investigating HUC-JIR's collection of Biblical manuscripts of the Chinese Jews of Kai Feng.  This research stemmed from an interest in the Masoretic Text of the Hebrew Bible and the notion that these manuscripts might reveal hitherto unknown facts about the development of the apparatus of the Torah, and that a review of the features of these pricless documents might reveal new pathways in Masoretic study.  The results of this study were published in I.O. Lehman, HUC mss 951-981 from Kai Feng, and a Purported Link between China and Yemen. Dr. Weisberg's interest in this subject was further explored during his trip to China to teach at Nanjing University, at which time he also he visited Kai Feng.  His account of this trip can be found in the HUC-JIR Chronicle article at http://www.huc.edu/chronicle/62/HUCJIR-China.pdf

Dr. Weisberg’s Founders’ Day Address, presented in Cincinnati in 2002, can be found at http://huc.edu/faculty/faculty/pubs/dweisberg02.shtml

The College-Institute family expresses sincere condolences to Dr. Weisberg’s wife, Ophra, his children Dina, Jonathan, Oren, and Avi, and the extended family.

May Dr. Weisberg’s memory endure as a source of blessing to all.


Founded in 1875, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion is North America's first 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 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