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Haberman, Joshua O.


HABERMAN, JOSHUA O. (1919– ), U.S. Reform rabbi. Haberman was born in Vienna, where his education was interrupted by the German invasion of Austria in 1938. Fleeing to the United States, he earned his B.A. from the University of Cincinnati (1940) and M.H.L. from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, where he was ordained in 1945. huc-jir awarded him an honorary Doctor of Divinity in 1970. His first pulpit was in Mobile, Alabama (1944–46), where he worked to bring the Reform and Conservative communities closer together as rabbi of Congregation Shaarei Shamayim (the Government Street Temple). While serving as rabbi of Temple Beth Zion in Buffalo, New York (1946–51), Haberman founded the *Hillel Center at the University of Buffalo, acting as its first director (1946–47). In 1951, he became rabbi of Har Sinai Temple in Trenton, New Jersey, whose membership quadrupled under his leadership. Haberman chaired both the Trenton Board of Rabbis and the local Israel Bonds Drive; coauthored Encounter for Reconciliation: Guidelines for Inter-religious Dialogue, published jointly by the *Union of American Hebrew Congregations and the United Presbyterian Church of America; and continued to foster mutual understanding within the Jewish community. He also lectured at Rutgers University and served on the Executive Committee of the Central Conference of American Rabbis (1967–69).

In 1969, Haberman was appointed rabbi of Washington Hebrew Congregation. His predecessor had been a classical Reform rabbi who was the son of an Orthodox rosh yeshivah. Haberman was far more traditional and far more oriented toward Israel. He developed a dialogue with the Roman Catholic diocese of Washington, d.c., with evangelical Christian leaders, and with Imam Wallace D. Muhammad of the World Community of Islam in the West. He served as president of the Washington Board of Rabbis (1982–84), as well as on the Advisory Committee on Ethical Values of the United States Information Agency (1982–83) and on the boards of directors of the Ethics and Public Policy Center (1983–89) and the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (1985). In 1984, in anticipation of retiring from the pulpit, he founded the Foundation for Jewish Studies, which sponsors cultural and educational programs for the entire Washington Jewish community as well as interested adherents of other faiths. In 1986, Haberman became rabbi emeritus of Washington Hebrew Congregation and assumed the active presidency of the fjs. On a national level, he was a member of the board of alumni overseers of the huc-jir and served as president of the National Association of Retired Reform Rabbis (naorr, 1999–2000). In 2001, he was the representative of Jewish participation in the National Cathedral's memorial service marking 9/11.

Haberman contributed articles to English and German publications and wrote three books, Philosopher of Revelation: The Life and Thought of S.L. Steinheim (1990); The God I Believe In: Conversations about Judaism with 14 Prominent Jewish Intellectuals (1994), and Healing Psalms: The Dialogues with God that Help You Cope with Life (2000). In addition, he taught at Georgetown University, Wesley Theological Seminary, and American University. He received the Brotherhood Award of the National Conference of Christians and Jews (1978) and the Elie Wiesel Holocaust Remembrance Award, conferred by the State of Israel Bonds (1992). Haberman's son is an Orthodox rabbi.

[Bezalel Gordon (2nd ed.)]

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