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Theodore S. Levy

Rabbi Theodore S. Levy (April 16, 1926 - November 11, 2004) born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, was a Reform movement rabbi in the United States. Levy received a B.A. from the University of Pittsburgh and went on to receive many other degrees, including a Master of Sacred Theology from Temple University, a Master of Hebrew Letters from Hebrew Union College, and an Honorary Doctor of Divinity from Hebrew Union College in 1976. He was ordained a rabbi in 1951 at Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio. (As a student, he played the organ for services at the Hebrew Union College.) Levy served at Keneseth Israel in Philadelphia, until 1952 when he left for Ohev Sholom in Huntington, West Virginia where he stayed until 1959. After three years at Temple Israel in Waterbury, Connecticut, Levy was appointed associate rabbi at the Temple Society of Concord in Syracuse, New York, where he became senior rabbi in 1969. Levy was the 3rd rabbi in 110 years at Temple Society of Concord which is the 11th oldest Jewish congregation in the U.S. He remained in Syracuse until his retirement in August 1989. After retirement in 1989, Levy was called to help Congregation Beth Yam, a newly formed congregation on Hilton Head, South Carolina. There, he also played viola in the Hilton Head Symphony Orchestra. Levy guest lectured at Marshall University in West Virginia. In a groundbreaking move in 1967, Levy became the first rabbi to be appointed to teach at Le Moyne College, a Jesuit institution. For over 20 years he taught Introduction to Judaism and The Development of Jewish Thought, and eventually became the senior professor in the department. He also taught in Canada. In addition to teaching, Levy devoted much of his time to community work and was active in many organizations. One of his early experiences of service came during the time he spent in work camps in Belgium and France through the American Friends Service Committee in 1950. Levy also served as Vice President of the Syracuse Jewish Federation and was active in the Rotary Clubs, where he became a Paul Harris Fellow. Levy became a 32nd Degree Mason. This was achieved at the request of Temple Israel in Waterbury, Connecticut, to open the way for other Jewish men to have the opportunity to also achieve this position in Masonry which, until this time, had been closed to Jews. Of particular importance to Levy were interfaith relations and bridging the gap between those from different backgrounds where he lived. He served on the board of the Syracuse Interfaith Committee on Religion and race. In the mid 1970s, he was named the founding president of the Syracuse Interreligious Council. As member of the Central Conference of American Rabbis for over 50 years, Levy participated in its Interreligious Activities Committee. Levy also brought his interfaith message to the public through his monthly column “From the Rabbi’s Study” which appeared in the Catholic Sun starting in 1973. Throughout his life, Levy was committed to the preservation of Jewish history. He accompanied Jacob Rader Marcus on his 1952 and 1962 archival expeditions to retrace the steps of Jews who were expelled from Spain after 1492. The 1952 expedition was to the Caribbean, and the 1962 trip was to the Jerusalem as well as the European cities of London, Copenhagen, Lisbon, Amsterdam, Paris, Madrid, and Rome. On these trips, Levy served as Marcus’ assistant and helped him find and secure materials for transport to the American Jewish Archives in Cincinnati, Ohio. Levy was also a founding member of the Jewish Historical Society of South Carolina.


Prayer of the Guest Chaplain of the U.S. House of Representatives: Rabbi Theodore S. Levy on 8 March 1984

Contributed on: 05 Mar 2024 by Theodore S. Levy | United States Congressional Record |

The Opening Prayer given in the U.S. House of Representatives on 8 March 1984. . . .

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