Rabbi Emeritus & Founding Rabbi
Richard S Sternberger
Rabbi Richard Sternberger grew up in Philadelphia. He was ordained as a Rabbi in 1952. From 1952-54 he served as a Navy Chaplain. He became Assistant Rabbi at Baltimore Hebrew Congregation in 1954 where he remained until 1958. In 1958 he was appointed as Rabbi of the Jewish Community Center of White Plains, later to be called Kol Ami. During the summer of 1964 he worked in Macomb, Mississippi to help register black voters. A staunch civil rights supporter he continued to march in Washington for equal rights for all citizens. In 1967 he joined the UAHC (now URJ) as the Assistant Director of the New York Federation of Reform Synagogues, later moving up to the position of Regional Director of the Mid-Atlantic Council.
In addition to being active in civil rights, Rabbi Sternberger was a major force in NFTY the reform movements youth group, and also in AZRA the reform movements zionist arm.
One of his duties as Regional Director was the formation of new congregations. He met with a small group of people interested in starting a reform congregation, and helped us form what would become Temple Bat Yam while serving as our part time Rabbi.
After his retirement with the UAHC, Rabbi Sternberger became our first permanent Rabbi of Temple Bat Yam. He retired fully in 1999, and now lives in Falls Church, Virginia. As a tribute to his contribution to social action, the Richard Sternberger Social Action award is given yearly at Temple Rodeph Shalom in Falls Church Virginia.
Rabbi Sternberger passed away on January 11, 2010 after a brief illness. The Temple honored our Founding Rabbi with a special memorial service on April 25, 2010. Many of his friends gave testimonials to the joy of knowing him, citing his assets as well as his faults. These were followed by a video depicting his close relationship with many congregants. Several of his friends also put together a book of memories.