Rabbi Richard A. Block, President of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, was inducted into the Board of Governors of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) by Rabbi David Ellenson, HUC-JIR President, on May 6, 2013 at its meeting in New York.
Rabbi Ellenson stated, “One of the most prominent rabbinical leaders of North American and world Jewry, Rabbi Block is renowned for his humanitarian, ecumenical, and communal leadership. His exemplary career has encompassed the worlds of law, the military, congregational life, and the core institutions of Reform Judaism worldwide. His wise counsel and vision are indispensable as we work to sustain and enhance HUC-JIR’s academic excellence.”
Rabbi Block was ordained and awarded a Master of Arts in Hebrew Letters at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1982, receiving numerous awards for academic distinction, writing and sermonic excellence. Upon ordination, he was chosen rabbi of Greenwich Reform Synagogues, Riverside, CT. In 1986, he received the Humanitarian Award of the Council of Churches and Synagogues of Lower Fairfield County, CT, for community leadership “worthy of esteem and commendation” that “made a significant difference in his community and in our whole region.”
Rabbi Block was Senior Rabbi of Congregation Beth Am, Los Altos Hills, CA, from 1987-1999. He received the Jewish Family and Children's Services of San Francisco's 1999 "FAMMY" Award, "in appreciation of extraordinary caring and dedicated community service." Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion conferred upon him an honorary doctorate in 2007 and, in 2008, Newsweek recognized him as "one of the top 25 pulpit rabbis in America."
Rabbi Block is President-Elect of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, Vice Chair of the Reform Movement's Pension Board, a board member of the Union for Reform Judaism, a past president of the World Union for Progressive Judaism, a member of the executive committee of the Jewish Federation of Cleveland and Vice President of the Greater Cleveland Board of Rabbis. His many publications include Sacred Pilgrimage A Jewish Reflection on Life, Death and Eternity and How I Wish I Could Fish!, a children's book.
Prior to his rabbinical studies, Rabbi Block graduated with honors from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and from Yale Law School, where he was an editor of the Yale Law Journal. He was a law clerk to a U.S. District Court judge and served on active duty in the U.S. Navy's Judge Advocate General's Corps, including a term as a Special Assistant U.S. Attorney.