In Memoriam: Gerald Bubis, Z”l
The Wexner Foundation mourns the passing of Gerald Bubis, z”l, who died on August 21. As the founding director of the School of Jewish Communal Service at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, Jerry, as he was fondly known, pioneered and shaped the field of Jewish communal service. He was an activist for peace in the Middle East. Jerry was a mentor to many professionals, myself included. In the early ‘70s, when I was a new professional, he challenged me to lead, advising me to work extra hard to achieve leadership as a woman and to take advantage of opportunities.
Larry Moses, President Emeritus of The Wexner Foundation, called Bubis “the progenitor of an entire field…he was our teacher, our light and our example.”
Jerry’s book The Director Had a Heart Attack and the President Resigned is significant to lay and professional leaders, providing them with practical and tested strategies that can be used to navigate the choppy waters that characterize lay-professional relations in today’s organizations. I worked with Jerry on The Challenge for Jewish Communal Professionals in Enhancing Jewish Identity, where Jerry mentions the relatively new Wexner Foundation programs as important in this effort. In this book, Jerry also presciently wrote, “The essential task of professionals today is to guide lay leaders to deal with the larger issues confronting Jewish life. For that is the greatest contribution of lay leadership — the formulation of goals and objectives for Jewish life and its institutions… Jewish educational standards must be raised for lay and professional alike so that the whole enterprise that we call Jewish communal service is based upon commonly held values.“
Our Foundation President, Rabbi Elka Abrahamson, remarked, “Jerry was a beloved teacher and all around great man, a mensch in every way. I was proud to count myself among his students at HUC and also among his colleagues on the Wexner Faculty in my earliest associations with the Foundation. He could have been intimidating, given his command of the material and his charismatic presence, but instead was nurturing and supportive. And his smile was always contagious. I know how proud Jerry was of his family and his legacy of Torah, and his love of Jewish community is flourishing through his beloved children and grandchildren. May they be comforted among those who mourn.
Jerry, your memory is truly a blessing.
Cindy Chazan is Vice President of The Wexner Foundation. Prior to coming to the Foundation in 1999, she was the Executive Director of the Jewish Federation of Greater Hartford. Cindy is a founding Board Member of Advancing Women Professionals and the Jewish Community, and is on the Board of the Jewish Funders Network. She is the recipient of The Louis Kraft award for Professional Leadership awarded by the Jewish Communal Service Association of North America; the Bernard Reisman Award for Professional Excellence from Brandeis University’s Hornstein Program; and the Mandelkorn Distinguished Service Award from the Association of Jewish Community Organization Professionals of North America. Cindy served as VP of the Board of the then Conference of Jewish Communal Service during Jerry Bubis’ presidency. Cindy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.