Jacob Pressman, spiritual leader of Temple Beth Am, died at 95

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5345465ryrJacob “Jack” Pressman, born on October 26, 1919 and died October 1, 2015, Jacob was an American Conservative rabbi.

He served as the rabbi of Temple Beth Am in Los Angeles, California from 1950 to 1985.

Jacob was a co-founder of the American Jewish University in Bel Air. He penned a weekly column in The Beverly Hills Courier from 2004 to 2015.

Jacob Pressman was born on October 26, 1919 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

His father was Solomon Pressman and his mother, Dora (Levin) Pressman. Raised in the Jewish faith, he attended Temple Beth Am in Philadelphia.

Jacob graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1940, where he received a Bachelor of Arts degree.

He attended the Jewish Theological Seminary of America and was ordained as a conservative rabbi in 1945.

Jacob served as rabbi at Forest Hills Jewish Center in Queens, New York City, from 1944 to 1946.

In 1946, he moved to Los Angeles, California, where he first served as associate rabbi at Sinai Temple until 1950. At the time, the senior rabbi was Jacob Kohn (or Cohen).

In 1950, he became rabbi of the Olympic Jewish Center. It was renamed Temple Beth Am in 1957. Pressman established Beth Am Manor, a low-rent residence for senior citizens as well as the Rabbi Jacob Pressman Academy, a combination of nursery, elementary and secondary schools connected to the synagogue.

Jacob spearheaded the ‘Save Soviet Jewry’ campaign in 1964, leading to greater awareness of the plight of the Jews in the Soviet Union.

This in turn led to more immigration of Soviet Jews to Israel. Moreover, he joined Martin Luther King, Jr. in his protest march in Montgomery, Alabama in 1965.

Jacob served as President of the Western Region of the Rabbanical Assembly and Chairman of its convention in 1979.

Additionally, he served as President of the Board of Rabbis of Los Angeles.

Jacob served on the Executive Council of the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles.

He was also Chair of the Los Angeles campaign for Israel Bonds. Moreover, he was involved with the United Jewish Appeal.

Jacob spearheaded the establishment of Camp Ramah in California, a summer camp in Ojai.

He was a co-founder of the Brandeis-Bardin Camp Institute. He served as Chairman of the Los Angeles Zionist Youth Commission.

Jacob played a critical role in the founding of the Los Angeles Hebrew High School. He was a co-founder of the University of Judaism, later known as the American Jewish University (AJU), located in Bel Air.

He was a recipient of the 2004 Rabbi Simon Greenberg Award from AJU.

Jacob was the founding President of the Maple Counseling Centre, a non-profit organization which offers free counseling sessions, based in Beverly Hills, California.

He has written a weekly column in The Beverly Hills Courier since 2004. Jacob has written two books.

 

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