Rich seigel, z"l
Richard Siegel passed away in Los Angeles, after two years fighting cancer, just two weeks before his 71st birthday. Rich joined the Havurah in its second year, after graduating from Brandeis. He received a Masters degree in the program then known as Contemporary Jewish Studies (later it became the Hornstein Program). It was there that under the supervision of Professor Joseph Lukinsky, z”l, (one of the founders of Havurat Shalom) he and fellow Havurah member George Savran wrote a joint Masters thesis called “A Proposal for a Jewish Whole Earth Catalog.” Shortly afterward Rich, Michael Strassfeld and Sharon Strassfeld realized this proposal by turning it into the best-selling and iconic book of the Jewish “Counter Culture” of the ‘60s and 70s,The Jewish Catalog.
Later on Rich led the National Foundation for Jewish Culture in New York for many years, as it supported both Jewish scholarship and the arts. He was one of the founding members of Minyan Maat, a truly innovative thinker about Jewish life and Jewish culture, a gifted shaliah tzibbur, a friend to many of us. Rich died surrounded by his wife Rabbi Laura Geller and his two (grown) children Andy and Ruthie. When Rich married Laura he left New York and moved to Los Angeles where she was the rabbi of a congregation. After a while he was asked to become the head of Hebrew Union College’s School of Jewish Non Profit Management which he did with great success, culminating in helping to secure a naming donation for the School.
During the past year Rich and his wife Laura were working on a fascinating project in Los Angeles about creating communities that dealt in creative ways with an aging Jewish population. Their book about this work was close to completion and will no doubt appear within the next short while. As ill as Rich was, it mattered greatly to him to attend the 50th anniversary reunion of Havurat Shalom, and with a great show of willpower despite being in considerable pain, he was able to be with us over Memorial Day weekend 2018 and to speak at the panel on aging. It was in essence a chance for him to say good-bye, though none of us expected that his end was so near. Yehi zikhro varukh.
-- Barry Holtz