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Rabbi Harold Schulweis Dies at 89

Conservative movement leader was known for synagogue innovation

Stephanie Butnick
December 18, 2014
(Rabbi Harold Shulweiss; Valley Beth Shalom)
(Rabbi Harold Shulweiss; Valley Beth Shalom)

Rabbi Harold Schulweis, leader of the Valley Beth Shalom synagogue in Encino, CA, died Thursday at age 89.

Schulweis, who was a national leader in the Conservative movement, helmed the Encino congregation since 1970, during which time he instituted a series of synagogue innovations, including, in 1971, synagogue-based Havurot discussion groups. He also founded several Jewish organizations, including Mazon and Jewish World Watch.

Here’s Schulweis giving a sermon at Valley Beth Shalom before Passover, in which he urges congregants to embrace the silent moments of the seder, the “benediction-less rites, those rituals in which there is no blessing, only silence.”

Stephanie Butnick is chief strategy officer of Tablet Magazine, co-founder of Tablet Studios, and a host of the Unorthodox podcast.