GLASER, JOSEPH (1925–1994), U.S. Reform rabbi. Glaser was born in Boston, Massachusetts. His education was interrupted by World War ii, where he served in combat infantry and earned a Purple Heart. He returned to the United States and received his B.A. from ucla (1948) and his law degree from the University of San Francisco before entering Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, where he was ordained in 1956. His first assignment was a pulpit in Ventura, California, and he served as registrar and instructor at the Los Angeles campus of the Hebrew Union College, which opened in the mid-1950s to accommodate the rapid expansion of the California Jewish community. Glaser left his congregation in 1959 to become the Northern California/Pacific Region director of the *Union of American Hebrew Congregations, the congregational arm of the Reform movement. He moved to New York in 1971 to serve as executive vice president of the *Central Conference of American Rabbis. He remained in that position until his retirement. Within a few years Rabbi Alfred *Gottschalk was to head the Hebrew Union College and Alexander *Schindler the uahc, thus giving the Reform movement stable and experienced leadership during most of the last quarter of the 20th century.
Glaser directed the activities of the ccar, an organization of 1,700 rabbis, mainly in North America. He played an important role in the 1990 decision of the Reform Rabbinate to open membership to rabbis without regard to their sexual orientation, balancing that with a reaffirmation of the ideal of a monogamous, procreative marriage.
A social activist, he was an advocate for Native Americans and Tibetan refugees, as well as for Israel. He served as chairman of Religion in American Life, the first Jew to preside over the non-sectarian organization designed to fortify the American people's faith in God. He also served on the executive committee of the Synagogue Council of America and the Union of American Hebrew Congregations. He was on the board of American Jewish World Service and other organizations.
[Michael Berenbaum (2nd ed.)]