Remembering Rabbi Peter S. Knobel, z”l

August 21, 2019Rabbi Rick Jacobs

With the death of Rabbi Peter S. Knobel, z”l, our Reform Movement has lost a giant. A brilliant, courageous, and visionary rabbi, he served in many leadership roles, including as the longtime rabbi of Beth Emet -The Free Synagogue in Evanston, IL, where his leadership and direction were transformative for the congregation.

During his term as the president of the Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR), Peter launched the reimagination of the organization, the professional association of North America’s Reform rabbis, as we know it today.

I was privileged to serve as an officer of the CCAR during Peter’s tenure, and I will always remember not only his moral integrity, but also the way he modeled it in everything he said and did. As a first-rate academic, he possessed intellectual acuity, and as a spiritual master, he shared his personal warmth and goodness with all whose lives he touched.

Who among us was not inspired by the way he combined serious Jewish learning with unbridled menschlichkeit – simultaneously speaking prophetic truth to power on critical issues facing the U.S., Israel, and the world?

We mourn the painful loss of our beloved teacher, mentor, and friend, but we will continue to follow in his trailblazing and ennobling footsteps.

Read a selection of Rabbi Knobel’s commentaries on the Book of Exodus written for's Ten Minutes of Torah.

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