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Dr. Simon Greenberg, (1901-1993) major Conservative rabbi, educator and religious thinker, founding President of the American Jewish University (formerly known as the University of Judaism) and vice chancellor emeritus of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America.


Greenberg was born in Horoshen, Russia, and came to the United States at age 4. He studied at the University of Minnesota and graduated from City College of New York in 1922. He was ordained at the seminary in 1925 and was a member of the first class of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem that same year. He received his Ph.D. from Dropsie College in 1932

Greenberg joined the faculty of the Jewish Theological Seminary in 1932 and became vice chancellor in 1957. He held the post until 1986. He became known as an institution builder and a leading spokesman for Conservative Judaism. Greenberg, with Mordecai Kaplan helped found the University of Judaism (now the American Jewish University) at Los Angeles, at the time, a branch of the seminary, in 1958, serving as its first President until 1963.

Greenberg served as rabbi of Har Zion Temple in Philadelphia, one of the leading synagogues of the Conservative movement, from 1925 to 1951. During that time, he was also adviser to Jewish students at the University of Pennsylvania and Temple University. he also was instrumental in founding the Akiva Day school in Philadelphia.

From 1950 to 1953, he was executive director of the United Synagogue of America, the national organization of Conservative congregations, from his perspective Conservative Judaism representing the vibrant center between the Orthodox and Reform movements in the Jewish religion.

"Protest again the excesses of the Reform Jewish School was the immediate cause which brought into being the Conservative Movement. But the founders of Historical Judaism were not interested merely in preserving Judaism as they had received it from their immediate fathers. They knew that no living organism can develop normally if it breaks sharply, complete and suddenly with its own past. Hence, they sought to guide Jewish life in a manner that would effect the necessary changes without destroying or impairing the essential continuity of Judaism in all of its phases. They looked upon a knowledge of history as indispensable for the achievement of this continuity within change or change within continuity."

Greenberg argued that Jewish law is divine while simultaneously showing that Judaism is pluralistic.

At the organizations's biennial conference in 1950, Dr. Greenberg forcefully denounced the McCarran Internal Security Act of 1950 as a threat to civil liberties and persuaded the delegates to demand its repeal. He was a chairman of the executive committee of the Jewish Agency and the World Zionist Organization of America from 1963 to 1968.

He died in Jerusalem at 92.

His children include Moshe Greenberg, the biblical scholar


"Living as a Jew Today" (Behrman, 1940),

"Foundations of a Faith" (Burning Bush Press, 1967), "

The Ethical in the Jewish and American Heritage" (Jewish Theological Seminary, 1977)

"A Jewish Philosophy and Pattern of Life" (Jewish Theological Seminary, 1981).

He edited "The Ordination of Women as Rabbis," a collection of articles, in 1988.

External references



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