Rabbi Clifford E. Librach, an internationally recognized theologian, essayist and attorney, died Thursday at his home in Waltham, MA. He was 70 years old. The cause of death was cancer.
Rabbi Librach presided over three Reform congregations during his 30-year rabbinical career: United Jewish Center in Danbury, CT, Temple Sinai of Sharon, MA and Moses Montefiore Temple in Bloomington, IL.
As a respected Judaic scholar, Rabbi Librach’s erudite essays and sometimes controversial commentaries were widely published, appearing in Commentary, the Wall Street Journal and the Journal of Reform Judaism.
In 2011, Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion awarded Rabbi Librach a Doctor of Divinity for his scholarly distinction. In 1998 The Forward newspaper named him one of the “50 most dynamic and influential Jewish leaders in America”. He was the only pulpit rabbi to earn that distinction.
As a spiritual leader, Rabbi Librach wanted to take the role of an oboe in an orchestra “because it is the most reliable instrument…in whom everyone can be confident, and through whom everyone can find their voice”.
A debater in high school, Rabbi Librach approached intellectual confrontations with iron-clad arguments. A healer at heart, he never failed to show respect for those with opposing viewpoints.
The Rabbi’s commanding baritone voice spiritually engaged congregants as he sang the cantillation notes that accompany reading the Torah.
Using the same energetic voice, he played an amateur auctioneer who raised $16,000 in one night for charity.
A native of St. Louis, Rabbi Librach attended Clayton High School. In 1973, he graduated Georgetown University cum laude with an B.A. degree American Studies and Philosophy.
In 1977 he received a Juris Doctor degree from New York University where he was associate editor of The Law Review. In 1986 he was ordained Rabbi at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati.
Before his ordination, he clerked for the Chief Justice of the Missouri Supreme Court and worked as a litigator at Husch & Eppenberger in St. Louis.
An avid fan of the St. Louis Cardinals, he returned to Busch Stadium in 2006 to watch his beloved Redbirds play in the World Series. Rabbi Librach also adored classical music, Civil War history, Disney World, Dunkin Donuts, and taking trips to Israel.
“Nothing has given me greater joy, or challenge, than my family, “ he told a reporter in 2009. “When I look at my children, I see my past and my future, and I respect that obsession in every parent I know.”
Every Sunday night, no matter where he was in the world, Rabbi Librach logged onto a computer to connect with his two brothers.
Rabbi Librach is survived by his wife of 40 years, Miriam Case Librach of Waltham, MA; a daughter, Giliah Librach Nagar (Erez) of Woburn, MA; a son, Max Librach (Ashley) of Waltham, MA; grandchildren Lavi and Shai Nagar of Woburn, MA; two brothers, Austan Librach (Diane) of Austin, TX and Mathew Librach (Phyllis Brasch) of St. Louis, two brothers-in-law, Joel Case of St. Louis and James Case of Kansas City, MO, nieces, nephews, cousins, colleagues and students.
A funeral service will be held Sunday, November 21 at 12:30 p.m. at Temple Emunah, 9 Piper Road, Lexington, MA. Attendee’s must be fully vaccinated and wearing masks. Interment will follow at Beit Olam East, 44 Concord Road, Wayland, MA.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in memory to Friends of Israeli Defense Forces, P.O. Box 4224, New York, N.Y. 10163 or online at www.fidf.com