Samuel Schafler

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Samuel Schafler

Samuel Schafler
BornFebruary 20, 1929
New York
DiedApril 3, 1991
Boston
NationalityAmerican
ReligionJewish
Spouse(s)Sara Schafler
 
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Samuel Schafler

Samuel Schafler
BornFebruary 20, 1929
New York
DiedApril 3, 1991
Boston
NationalityAmerican
ReligionJewish
Spouse(s)Sara Schafler

Samuel Schafler (February 20, 1929 – April 3, 1991) was a New York-born rabbi, historian, editor and Jewish educator. He was Superintendent of the Board of Jewish Education of Metropolitan Chicago and President of Hebrew College in Brookline, Massachusetts.[1]

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Biography

Samuel Schafler was born in the Bronx, New York in 1929. His father, Benjamin Schafler, and mother, Ethel (née Schnapp) owned a grocery store. Schafler studied at the Yeshiva of Flatbush, the Talmudical Academy and the Teachers Institute of Yeshiva University. Schafler grew up in Brooklyn, New York. He had one sister, Pearl. In 1951, he married Sara (née Edell) of Toronto, then a student at the Teachers Institute of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America in New York, where Schafler was studying for the rabbinate. They had six children.

In 1950, Schafler graduated with honors from the City College of New York, where he was awarded the Cromwell Medal[2] and the Nelson P. Mead Prize in History. Schafler was ordained as a Conservative rabbi in 1952. He pursued graduate work in Jewish history and education at Columbia University.

Rabbinic career

In 1952-1955, Schafler was rabbi of Knesseth Israel Synagogue in Gloversville, New York. From 1955 to 1961, he was editor of two magazines, The Synagogue School and Dorenu: Our Age, and the associate editor of The Pedagogic Reporter. He also served as associate director of the United Synagogue Commission on Jewish Education and director of its Educational Placement Service.

In 1961-1976, he was rabbi of Temple Gates of Prayer in Flushing, New York.[3] During that time, he was active in the Flushing community and served as a Fellow in Community Planning for the Board of Jewish Education of New York. He was the educational director of Camp Ramah in the Berkshires in 1964-1966, Camp Ramah in Glen Spey, New York in 1967, and the Ramah Community Program in Israel from 1968 to 1976.

Jewish education

As Superintendent of the Chicago Board of Jewish Education from 1976 to 1987, he preached the need for Ahavat Yisrael, love of Jews for one another. He defined Ahavat Yisrael as "learning to love and respect Jews as they are, and not as you would like them to be." [4]The historic sin of the American Jewish education profession, he charged, was its indifference to its own history. One of the failures of American Jewish education was its ignorance of the achievements of its pioneers and inability to chronicle its own successes. [5]

Academic positions

In 1969, Schafler was a visiting professor at the Melton Center of Jewish Education at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. [6] In 1973, he was awarded a doctorate in Jewish history from the Jewish Theological Seminary for his dissertation on "The Hasmoneans in Jewish Historiography." In 1974-1976, while serving as a rabbi in Flushing, Schafler was an assistant professor of Jewish History at Queens College, City University of New York. In 1982, the Jewish Theological Seminary awarded him a Doctor of Divinity, honoris causa.

In 1987, Schafler was elected president of Hebrew College in Boston. He was the first pulpit rabbi to become president of a New England college.[7]He served in that position until his death from cancer in 1991.

Publications

References