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Steinberg, Paul


STEINBERG, PAUL (1926–2005), U.S. Reform rabbi, psychologist, academician. Steinberg was born in New York City and attended the College of the City of New York, where he earned a B.S. (1946) and M.S. (1948) and served as a fellow in the Department of Education (1946–48). During those years leading up to the creation of the State of Israel, he worked for Americans for *Haganah, an organization that smuggled arms to Jewish fighters in mandatory Palestine. A disciple of Stephen S. *Wise, he was ordained at the *Jewish Institute of Religion in 1949 and received an Ed.D. from Teachers College, Columbia University in 1961. In 1985, he was awarded an honorary D.H.L. by Baltimore Hebrew University. The recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship for Research and Travel in Israel, he served as a visiting lecturer in the School of Social Welfare and the Department of Education at the *Hebrew University in Jerusalem (1949–50). Returning to the United States, he became director of the *B'nai B'rith Hillel Foundation at the University of California in Berkeley (1950–52) before entering the pulpit rabbinate at Temple Israel of Northern Westchester, Croton-on Hudson, n.y. (1952–57). He also served as chaplain of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Veterans Administration Hospital in Montrose, n.y. (1952–57) and lectured at the New York University School of Education (1956).

In 1958, Steinberg accepted a full-time appointment as associate professor at the New York campus of the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, where he had been a part-time instructor for the two preceding years. In 1961, he was elevated to professor of human relations and education and dean, a position he retained until 1985. In addition to being responsible for all the departments at the school that train rabbis, cantors and educators, he served as executive dean of the huc Biblical and Archaeological School in Jerusalem (1963–70), as well as director of the American Office of the huc-jir Jerusalem School and director of the Summer Programs in Israel, including archaeological excavations. Steinberg is credited with inaugurating the New York institution's Year-in-Israel Program for its students (1971) and establishing an Israel Rabbinical Program in the 1980s to strengthen Progressive Judaism in Israel. He also helped develop a music degree program and set up satellite schools in the suburbs offering certification in Jewish education.

A New York State Department of Education Research Fellow in Israel (1967) and Eleanor Sinsheimer Distinguished Service Professor in Jewish Religious Education and Human Relations (1970), Steinberg was a member of the board of directors of the Council of Higher Educational Institutions of the City of New York (1957–1973). In 1985, he was named huc-jir's vice president for communal affairs and dean of faculty, serving in that post for 20 years. He was huc-jir's longest serving dean when he succumbed to illness at the age of 79.

A certified psychologist, Steinberg combined his academic career with a professional one outside the halls of academe: he was a consultant to industry and management at Richardson, Bellows & Henry (1958–60) and a professional associate at BFS Psychological Associates of New York. He was also an expert examiner for the New York State Civil Service Commission and a speaker at executive development seminars conducted by the Department of Defense and the American Management Association. In addition, he was a member of the Boards of Trustees of the Albright Institute of Archaeological Research – American Schools of Oriental Research (Jerusalem, Israel) and of the Jewish Braille Institute of America as well as a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.


The Nearprint Files of the American Jewish Archives, Cincinnati.

[Bezalel Gordon (2nd ed.)]

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