Rabbi Richard A. Block, Senior Rabbi Emeritus

Senior Rabbi Emeritus Block retired in July 2018. He had served as Senior Rabbi of The Temple–Tifereth Israel in Cleveland, OH since 2001. Designated by Newsweek “one of the top 25 pulpit rabbis in America,” Rabbi Block is a passionate, widely recognized advocate for Israel and the US-Israel strategic alliance. His recent writings have appeared in Time, The Jewish Daily Forward, Tablet Magazine, Huffington Post, The Times of Israel, The Tower Magazine, JTA, The Jewish Week, Haaretz and elsewhere, and are widely shared on social media. His publications include Sacred Pilgrimage: A Jewish Reflection on Life, Death, and Eternity and How I Wish I Could Fish! a book for children and parents. In 2007, HUC-JIR conferred upon him an honorary doctorate.

He is a Past President of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, the rabbinic leadership organization of Reform Judaism. As its president, Rabbi Block represented it on The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations and chaired the Reform Leadership Council, comprised of the top lay and professional leaders of the CCAR, HUC-JIR and URJ. He is a past president of the World Union for Progressive Judaism, the international umbrella organization of Reform, Liberal, Progressive, and Reconstructionist Judaism.

Rabbi Block served as President of the Greater Cleveland Board of Rabbis, and on the Board of Directors and the Executive Committee of the Cleveland Jewish Federation. On the Federation’s behalf, he chaired PACT, an international partnership of Jewish Federations and the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee that assisted more than 10,000 Ethiopian-Israeli children and their families. He also chaired Federation’s Black – Jewish Relations Task Force. He was a public representative on the board of the Cleveland Bar Association. In 2012, he was honored by the Jewish Free Loan Association, Cleveland, as its “Man of the Year.” He is a member of the President’s Visiting Committee of Case Western Reserve University.

As Senior Rabbi of Congregation Beth Am, Los Altos Hills, CA, Rabbi Block inspired a national partnership for educational innovation, the Experiment in Congregational Education, integrated nearly a thousand families from the former Soviet Union in Jewish life, and Jewish Family and Children’s Services of San Francisco presented him its 1999 “FAMMY” Award, “in appreciation of extraordinary caring and dedicated community service.”

Rabbi Block was ordained at HUC-HIR in 1982, receiving awards for academic distinction, writing, and sermonic excellence. While leading Greenwich Reform Synagogue, Riverside, CT, he served as President of the Greenwich Fellowship of Clergy and founded Jewish Community Services of Greenwich. He received the Humanitarian Award of the Council of Churches and Synagogues of Lower Fairfield County for leadership “worthy of esteem and commendation” that “made a significant difference in his community and in our whole region.”

Rabbi Block graduated with honors from the Wharton School and from Yale Law School, where he was an editor of the Yale Law Journal. He was a law clerk to a federal judge and spent four years on active duty in the U.S. Navy Judge Advocate General’s Corps, including assignments as a Special Assistant US Attorney and a faculty member of the Naval Justice School. He and Susan G. Block, a community leader and volunteer, have been married since 1969. They have two sons, Joshua, President and CEO of The Israel Project, and Zachary, a Vice President of Conde Nast. They are also blessed with two wonderful daughters-in-law and six beloved grandchildren.