NEW YORK, June 21 (JTA) — Rabbi Bernard Mandelbaum, a former president of the Conservative movement’s Jewish Theological Seminary, died Tuesday night in Florida at the age of 79.
Mandelbaum, an author and influential voice in the Conservative movement, spent much of his life at JTS. In addition to serving as president of the seminary from 1966 to 1972, he was ordained by JTS and taught Midrash there as well.
His most notable work was a critical edition of the Midrash known as Pesikta deRab Kahana.
He was also the author of “Choose Life,” “Tales of the Fathers of the Conservative Movement” and “You Are Not Alone.”
Rabbi David Kogen, who was vice chancellor of JTS while Mandelbaum was president, praised Mandelbaum’s influence on the Conservative movement and his work for the school.
“He was very well liked by the lay people of the Conservative movement,” said Kogen, emphasizing that Mandelbaum built a reputation as a popular speaker and effective fund-raiser.
“We had to raise our own money,” said Kogen. “He was very good at that.”
Mandelbaum’s death — believed to be the result of a massive heart attack — came suddenly, despite the fact he had been in poor health for a number of years.
Mandelbaum is survived by his second wife, Marcelle, a sister and five children. He also leaves three step- children, 10 grandchildren, two step-grandchildren and one great-grandchild.