Rabbi Morley T. Feinstein, who served for 17 years as senior rabbi of University Synagogue, died April 25 from complications of cancer.
Born in Chicago, Rabbi Feinstein grew up in Beverly Hills, graduating from Beverly Hills High School. He graduated from UC Berkeley, Phi Beta Kappa. Rabbi Feinstein was honored by the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles with its Rabbinic Award, is a past president of the Southern California Board of Rabbis and is a past treasurer of the Central Conference of American Rabbis. Rabbi Feinstein received the degree of Doctor of Divinity, honoris causa, from the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion.
Ordained in 1981 at HUC-JIR in Cincinnati, Rabbi Feinstein served as the assistant and first associate rabbi of Temple Beth-El in San Antonio, Texas. From 1987 to 2002, he served as senior rabbi of Temple Beth-El in South Bend, Indiana. During his tenure there, he received Indiana’s highest citizen honor, The Sagamore of the Wabash, from its governor for his efforts in promoting peace and justice, such as lobbying for hate crime legislation and advising a local community in its efforts to oust the Ku Klux Klan.
A Senior Rabbinic Fellow of Jerusalem’s Shalom Hartman Institute, Rabbi Feinstein was known for his passion for Torah, zest for learning and love of music in his sacred work. He is a published author of rabbinic scholarship, including “The Jewish Law Review.”
For 34 summers he attended and taught at several camps of the Union for Reform Judaism. Dedicated to interfaith dialogue, Rabbi Feinstein was a leader in the Community United Religious Effort in South Bend and then served on the Los Angeles Council of Religious Leaders. Among his many activities serving the wider community, he was a founding member of the Ethics Committee of the California Science Center.
Rabbi Feinstein also served on the Board of Directors of the Brentwood Community Council and participated in the Pacific Palisades community, whether he was visiting University Synagogue congregants or being an active parent at Palisades Charter High School. Under Rabbi Feinstein’s leadership, University Synagogue partnered with Kehillat Israel in bringing social workers to help their communities.
Rabbi Feinstein is survived by his wife, Margarete, a historian and professor at Loyola Marymount University; two sons, Aaron (Shira), a physician, and Ari (Rachel), a Jewish educator; twin daughters, Eliana and Renata, seniors at Pali High; three grandchildren, Mika, Jacob and Noah; his brother, Barney (Patrice); and his sister, Sheila Merewitz.
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