I was born in San Francisco and educated in the public schools of the City. I received a BA Degree with a major in English from the University of California at Berkeley. My wife, Karen, and I met as college students and were married in our Senior Year. I studied for the rabbinate at HUC-JIR in Cincinnati. During my student years I served as teacher, principal and Student-Assistant Rabbi at Rockdale Temple.
Following ordination in 1964 I served as Assistant, Associate, and Co-Rabbi at Congregation Oheb Shalom in Baltimore, Maryland. During this time I served as Chair of the American Jewish Committee chapter and was very active in the movement opposing the Vietnam War— Clergy and Laymen Concerned. I served on the Board of Maryland ACLU. During my years in Baltimore I did extensive graduate work in history at George Washington University and taught Jewish Religious Thought at Goucher College.
In 1972 I was elected the rabbi of Congregation Sherith Israel of San Francisco, a pioneer synagogue of the American west founded in 1849. In the Bay Area community I served on the boards of the Jewish Community Federation, the Jewish Family and Children’s Service, and the Graduate Theological Union. I have been active in interfaith work and served as the Chair of the San Francisco Interfaith Council and as a member of the San Francisco Human Rights Commission. I was a member of the National Commission on Reform Jewish Education and the Rabbinical Placement Commission. I currently serve on the Board of the Bay Area Chapter of the American Jewish Committee.
It was an honor to serve as President of the Pacific Association of Reform Rabbis and as President of the Central Conference of America Rabbis. I had previously served as CCAR Treasurer, Vice-President, and a member of the Executive Board. I currently serve on the Reform Pension Board and as Chair of the CCAR Ethics Process Review Committee.
I have had a life-long interest in Midrash and in the world of Film. Over the years I developed a series of lectures in which clips from famous movies illustrate lessons in the Midrash. I am especially proud of my work on behalf of Soviet Jewry. Our congregation pioneered in welcoming our brothers and sisters from the former Soviet Union. The program was recognized nationally. I have been committed to encouraging worthy candidates to enter the rabbinate. I am very proud to greet these eight rabbis, including my own son, as my colleagues. Over the years it has been an honor to serve as a mentor to other rabbis. In 2003 I became the Rabbi Emeritus of Congregation Sherith Israel.
My wife, Karen, and I have shared a loving relationship over the course of 55 years. She supported me as a teacher during rabbinical school and has blessed me with affection, wise counsel, and patience throughout our years in the congregational rabbinate. We are blessed with three children: our son Daniel, who is the Senior Rabbi of Temple De Hirsch-Sinai in Seattle, Washington; our daughter Ellen, who is an attorney and lives in the Bay Area; and our daughter, Elizabeth, who is also an attorney and lives in Washington, DC. We are blessed with six grandchildren.