Rabbi Herschel Leibowitz dies at 73


Rabbi Herschel Leibowitz of Pikesville, rabbi emeritus of the Greenspring Valley Synagogue, died of heart failure yesterday at Sinai Hospital. He was 73.

He was rabbi of the Greenspring Valley Synagogue from 1958 until his retirement in 1985.

"He was known for his interpretations of the Talmud and for his marvelous sermons," which emphasized tolerance, said Dr. Morris Steinberg, a member of the synagogue who was Rabbi Leibowitz's physician and close friend for many years. "Everybody loved him."

"He was a leader. He was inspirational and very interesting," said Herman Lecht, a longtime friend. "I stopped working Saturdays just to come to listen to his sermons."

Rabbi Leibowitz was a former president of the Eastern Seaboard Region of the Rabbinical Council of America.

The Union of Jewish Orthodox Congregations of America

presented Rabbi Leibowitz with its first Rabbinic Leadership Award for his work on behalf of orthodoxy in general and youth in particular.

Rabbi Leibowitz was a former president of the Vaad Harabonim of Baltimore, a local rabbinical council, and a longtime member of the Baltimore branch of the Religious Zionists of America.

A native of Ottawa, Canada, he came to the United States in 1936, at the age of 16, to study at the Ner Israel Yeshiva in Baltimore. He became a U.S. citizen in 1940.

He was ordained as a rabbi in 1944, and from 1946 to 1958 was rabbi of the old Lubawitz Nusach Ari Synagogue in Baltimore.

"He was an avid reader. He read everything," Dr. Steinberg said. "When he should have been sleeping, he was reading."

Dr. Steinberg said Rabbi Leibowitz loved browsing through bookstores, and that he read four or five books a week in addition to his religious reading.

He also loved all sports, Dr. Steinberg said, and used to enjoy going to Baltimore Colts games and sharing a salami sandwich and a shot of cognac with him at halftime.

Rabbi Leibowitz's first wife, the former Nachoma Rabinowitz, died in 1981.

He is survived by his wife of almost 11 years, the former Ruth Heiffer Spiegel; a son, David Leibowitz of Chicago; his daughter Rabbi Shoni Labowitz of Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; a stepson, Alan Spiegel of Jerusalem; two stepdaughters, Brenda Winkler-Feld of Brooklyn, N.Y., and Sharon Bennett of Baltimore; and 22 grandchildren.

Services are scheduled for 3 p.m. today at Ner Tamid Synagogue, 6214 Pimlico Road.

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