Passing of Dr. Jerry Hochbaum

Shalom Berger's picture
H-Judaic is deeply saddened to learn of the passing, in Israel, of Dr. Jerry Hochbaum (1934-2022), professor of sociology at Yeshiva University, and from 1982 until his retirement, Executive Vice-President of the Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture. Hochbaum grew up on the Lower East Side of New York, and was deeply devoted to the Jewish community.  He published several scholarly articles in the JOURNAL OF JEWISH COMMUNAL SERVICE, and in retirement wrote a volume on Jewish leadership based on leadership models in the Torah.  His most important contribution to scholarship, though, derived from the support that he proffered scholars young and old through the Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture.  Numerous scholarly projects would never have seen the light of day but for the Memorial Foundation's support.    The Memorial Foundation, now headed by Jeni S. Friedman, has published the following memorial to Dr. Hochbaum:
"Dr. Hochbaum joined the staff of the MFJC in 1971, rising to Executive Vice President in 1982. His career at the MFJC would ultimately span more than four decades, during which time Dr. Hochbaum served the global Jewish community with vision and distinction. Under his leadership, the MFJC supported the publication of more than 3,500 books dealing with Jewish culture, broadly defined, many of which were in Eastern European languages and played a major role in the reconstruction of Jewish life in Eastern Europe. It also awarded 13,500 fellowships, doctoral scholarships, and community service grants, creating an impressive mosaic of a new generation of scholars to replace the Jewish cultural elite which was decimated in the Shoah.

However, Dr. Hochbaum's proudest professional accomplishment was the creation of the International Nahum Goldmann Fellowship program (NGF). Led by Dr. Hochbaum, this program pioneered 32 international and 12 regional fellowships on six continents. These gatherings identified and trained more than 1,000 young Jewish professionals and lay leaders, thought leaders and activists, scholars and educators for leadership positions in their communities. The major objective of the NGF is increasing Jewish social capital and connectedness across a new generation of global Jewish leadership. The NGF has also become a platform for the MFJC’s next stage of growth and advancement.  
Rabbi Dr. Jeni S. Friedman, who succeeded Dr. Hochbaum as Executive Vice President in 2015 said: “Jerry devoted so much of his time nurturing the personal and professional paths of countless NGF Fellows around the world, who were deeply influenced by his leadership example, his love for Torah, and his eternal optimism of the Jewish people and the Jewish world.”
Since leaving the MFJC and making Aliyah in 2015, Dr. Hochbaum produced two books: ‘Song of Ascent’ an anthology of poetry and ‘The Hidden Light: Biblical Paradigms for Leadership’.
Dr. Hochbaum is survived by his wife Gilda, his children Rivka Reena Maltz (Dr. Michael Maltz), Ziona Greenwald (Meir Greenwald), Hannah Scharlat (Richard Scharlat), and his grandchildren. "

H-Judaic extends deepest condolences to the Hochbaum family and to all those who knew Dr. Hochbaum and benefited from his leadership and wisdom.  
Jonathan D. Sarna
Chair, H-Judaic
Categories: Obituary
Keywords: Necrology