Rabbi Judah Fish received his secular education in the Cincinnati
public school system, and his Jewish education from the community Talmud Torah
of Cincinnati, where his father was a teacher. In college, he majored in
Philosophy, spending his sophomore year at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.
After graduating, he commenced his rabbinical studies in New York City at the
Jewish Theological Seminary of America -- the rabbinical seminary of
In 1960, the Seminary ordained him as a rabbi and conferred on him the degree of
Master of Hebrew Literature. In 1986, the Seminary further honored Rabbi
Fish with the degree of Doctor of Divinity. Rabbi Fish also received
certification as a M'ssader Gittin, or supervisor of the observance of Jewish
divorce rituals. He was a full-time congregational rabbi for 44
years, from his ordination in 1960 until his retirement in 1999. During
these years, he served as the spiritual leader of five synagogues: Congregation
Beth Shalom in Modesto, CA; Congregation Agudas Achim in Austin, TX;
Congregation Beth Israel in Flint, MI; Gomley Chesed Congregation in Portsmouth,
VA; Congregation Kol Ami in Tampa, FL; and Congregation Ahavath Israel in
From his ordination in 1960 until the end of his life, he was a member of the
Rabbinical Assembly -- the national organization of Conservative rabbis. At
various times, Rabbi Fish served as president of the New York Capital District
Board of Rabbis, of the Tidewater (VA) Board of Rabbis, and of the Kallah of
Texas Rabbis. He also served on the Board of Governors of the New York Board of
On November 22, 1965, Rabbi Fish, at the invitation of President Lyndon B.
Johnson, gave an invocation at a memorial service for President John F. Kennedy
in Fredricksburg, TX.
Rabbi fish is known for having had an extensive knowledge of the Bible,
rabbinic literature, and modern historical scholarship in the Jewish sources.
He was also a forceful advocate of women's equal participation in Jewish worship
and ritual, and spoke out for women's equality in the religious realm, years
before that view began to predominate in the Conservative movement. In
addition, he saw great value in dialogue between Jewish and Christian religious
leaders that was respectful of each community's different beliefs.
But, perhaps the Rabbi's most salient intellectual characteristic that endeared
him to many was his love for the Hebrew language. As Rabbi Seymour
Rosenbloom of Congregation Adath Jeshurun in Elkins Parks, PA observed, Judah
had an "impeccable knowledge of . . . classical Hebrew grammar." His voice
in support of moderate intellectual dialogue will be sorely missed.
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