Rabbi Joshua Stampfer, z”l

Dec 28, 1921 – Dec 26, 2019

Rabbi Stampfer was born in Jerusalem, Israel in 1921. At the age of two he and his family moved to the U.S. where his father served as a rabbi in Madison, Wisconsin; Chicago, Illinois; Memphis, Tennessee; Akron, Ohio; Columbus, Georgia; and Los Angeles, California.

Joshua Stampfer graduated from the University of Chicago, received his M.S. from the University of Akron, his M.H.L. from the Jewish Theological Seminary, and his D.H.L. from the University of Judaism. He received an honorary doctorate from Pacific University in 1987.

Rabbi Joshua and Goldie Stampfer, z”l had five children, 20 grandchildren, and 16 great-grandchildren.

Congregations Served

  • Neveh Shalom, Portland, Oregon – 1953 to 1993; Rabbi Emeritus until his death in 2019
  • Center for Conservative Judaism, Jerusalem, Israel – 1973 to 1974
  • Tifereth Israel, Lincoln, Nebraska – 1949 to 1953

Other Positions

  • Board Member National Peace Now Organization – current
  • Appointee, Oregon Government Ethics Commission – current
  • Adjunct Associate Professor, Portland State University – 1961 to 1984; 1993 to present
  • Founder and Executive Director, Camp Solomon Schechter – 1954 to 1981
  • Director, World Council of Jewish Service – 1967
  • Founder and Executive Director, Institute for Judaic Studies – 1983 to present
  • Past President, Oregon Board of Rabbis
  • Past President, Pacific Northwest Rabbinical Assembly
  • Executive Director, Oregon Jewish Museum – 1989 to1998
  • Chair, Oregon Israel Jubilee Committee – 1998
  • Board Member, Pacific University – 1992 to 1998

Community Organizations

  • Founding Chair – Oregon Jewish Historical Society
  • Founding Chair – Oregon Holocaust Resource Center
  • Interreligious Committee for Peace in the Middle East
  • Co-Founder – Oregonians for Peace Now
  • Founder – Oregon Jewish Museum
  • Vice President – Sino-Judaic Institute
  • President – Society for Crypto-Judaic Studies
  • National Board Member – Americans for Peace Now

Special Interests

Joshua Stampfer was one of the earliest visitors to Kaifeng, China, where he met in 1983 with members of the ancient Jewish community there. Following his return, he brought over the U.S. the first young Jewess for the specific goal of studying Judaism. He helped to create the Sino-Judaic Institute and is its first Vice President.

He visited the community of secret Jews of Belmonte, Portugal a number of times and has edited a history of the community, “The Last Crypto Jews of Portugal.”

He has led twelve community tours to Israel, in addition to clergy tours and numerous private visits.

He has developed major conferences under the auspices of the Institute for Judaic Studies, including Sephardic History and culture, the Vienna of Freud and Herzl, the Teachings of Abraham Joshua Heschel, Interfaith Conference on Biblical Studies, From Powerlessness to Power – Israel and Japan – 1948-1988, as well as a number of single lectures in Judaica.

Published Works

Stampfer was a long-standing appointee to the Oregon Government Ethics Commission and was actively involved in interfaith dialogue with Muslim and Christian leaders. He was the author of Pioneer Rabbi of the West: The Life and Times of Julius Eckman (1984), and a volume on ancient history, Cradle of Civilization in the Middle East (n.d.). In addition, Stampfer edited six books: Prayer and Politics: The Twin Poles of A.J. Heschel (1985); Dialogue, the Essence of Buber (1986); The Sephardim: A Cultural Journey from Spain to the Pacific Coast (1987); All Its Paths Are Peace (1987); Islam and Judaism, 1400 Years of Shared Values (1988); and The Last Crypto Jews of Portugal (1990). A biography of Stampfer’s life, To Learn and to Teach (by David Michael Smith) appeared in 2003.

He wrote a cantata, “Jerusalem,” and has lectured extensively on Israel and Jewish community life.

Click here for another biography about Rabbi Stampfer, z”l.

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