Abraham Feinberg Dead at Age 87

Rabbi Abraham Feinberg, Rabbi Emeritus of Holy Blossom Temple here, died in Reno, Nevada, last week at the age of 87 and was buried Friday at Mt. Hope Cemetery, Hastings-On-Hudson, New York. His passing brought to an end a long, unique career, on and off the pulpit, which was marked by controversy owing to his militant advocacy of world peace and social reform.

At the time of his death, Feinberg was Rabbi-in-Residence of Glide Memorial in San Francisco and Temple Sinai in Reno. He was a former rabbi of Temple Israel in New York and Temple Emanu-El in Denver. He was also an author and, for a period in the 1930′s, left the rabbinate for a successful career as a singer on a national radio network under the stage name, Anthony Frome.

Feinberg was born in Bellaire, Ohio, where his father, an immigrant from Grinkishok, Lithuania in the 1880′s, eked out a living repairing umbrellas, though he was a trained cantor.

Feinberg graduated from the University of Cincinnati and was ordained by the Hebrew Union College. He served in Reform congregations in West Virginia and in Niagara Falls, New York, before taking the pulpit at New York’s prestigious Temple Israel.

Early in the 1930′s, during the great depression, he delivered a valedictory sermon, entitled, “Why I am Leaving the Professional Ministry.” He stated that “organized religion is a deserted lighthouse.” Later in the decade he gave up his singing career to return to the pulpit in order, he said, to defend and protect his people and their faith during the rise of Hitler’s Reich.

After serving in Denver, he came to Toronto as spiritual leader of Holy Blossom Temple from 1943-1961. He was forced to retire prematurely because of an eye ailment which threatened his sight. He became a source of controversy when he severely criticized the Canadian government for discriminating against Jewish young women who wanted to immigrate to Canada as nurses.

During the 1960′s and 1970′s, Feinberg was widely known for his campaign against U.S. intervention in Vietnam. At one point, with the late A.J. Muste, he visited North Vietnam and met with Ho-Chi Minh.

He left Toronto after 30 years to become resident rabbi at a Methodist church in San Francisco which ministered to vagrants and homosexuals. His books include “Hanoi Diary,” “Sex and the Pulpit,” and an autobiographical work, “Storm the Gates of Jericho.”

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