2009-09-23 / World News

Alfred Gottschalk dies; major Reform leader

NEW YORK—Reform leader Alfred Gottschalk, who led the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion for 25 years, has died. Gottschalk died in Cincinnati from complications following a car accident. He was 79.

He is well known for ordaining the first American and Israeli female rabbis.

Gottschalk, who left his native Germany with his mother in 1939, was ordained by the HUC in 1957 and two years later became the dean of its Los Angeles campus. In 1971 he was named HUC president, serving in the post until 1996.

Gottschalk ordained Sally Priesand, the first female rabbi in the United States, in Cincinnati in 1972. In 1980, he ordained Israel's first Reform rabbi and in 1992 its first female rabbi.

He was a founding member of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council and was appointed to the council by Presidents Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton. He also served as president of the Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York City from 2000 to 2003 during its major expansion. (JTA)

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