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Remembering Rabbi Stanley J. Schachter

Rabbi Stanley J. Schachter served as B'nai Jeshurun Congregation's senior rabbi from 1987 - 2001 with integrity, dignity and humor. He was then Emeritus Rabbi until he and his wife, Dr. Lifsa Schachter, made aliyah in 2015. Rabbi Schachter was a master preacher - always eloquent, articulate, and inspiring. He was a true Rabbi who lived to teach, preach and counsel.  He was authentic and modeled a life following the highest principles of kindness and dedication to community. His legacy is felt in so many ways - for example, the leaders of today were his students and wedding couples. Read the CJN article about him here.

The funeral was held in Jerusalem on Tuesday, November 1; the archived service and burial may be watched here.

If you have a memory, tribute or photo you'd like added to this page, please contact Diane Dronzek (216.354.0729).

Friends who wish may contribute to the The Rabbi Stanley J. & Dr. Lifsa Schachter Endowment Fund at B’nai Jeshurun Congregation or Friends of Yad Sarah.

Memories & Tributes:

In addition to his distinguished rabbinic career leading congregations in Chicago and Cleveland, Rabbi Stanley Schachter was a vice chancellor at JTS in the 1970s and 80s. In this role, he worked closely and effectively with the Development team to increase support for our institution and our students. Possessed of deep Jewish learning, a warm personality, and an engaging sense of humor, he was held in the highest esteem by his colleagues and was a role model both to students and to younger members of the faculty and administration. We remember him with affection and gratitude, for he exemplified this adage in Pirkei Avot: “Who is most to be honored? He who honors his fellow human beings.”  
We extend condolences to Rabbi Schachter’s wife, Lifsa, and to their children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. May his memory continue to bless them, and us.                                                    - Chancellor Shuly Rubin Schwartz of the Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS)

After serving for two years in the US Navy after ordination, he became assistant rabbi at Beth Shalom in Kansas City and subsequently rabbi of Ner Tamid in Chicago.  In 1972, he became a vice-chancellor at JTS at the request of then Chancellor, Rabbi Gerson Cohen, z”l; a position Schachter served for 15 years.  In 1987, he became senior rabbi of B’nai Jeshurun in Cleveland until his retirement in 2001 when he was named rabbi emeritus.  In retirement, he continued to teach at the Cleveland College of Jewish Studies and served as a chaplain at the Cleveland Clinic.  He and his wife, Dr. Lifsa Schachter, made Aliyah in 2015.  He is survived by his wife, Lifsa; children, Amy, Michael, Abby and Brenda; 13 grandchildren; 13 great-grandchildren; and sister, Sandra (Rabbi Donald) Crain.                                              - from the Rabbinical Assembly

I have been a member of BJC for 40 yrs. I was there when Rabbi Stanley Schachter was introduced to the congregation as the new Rabbi.  A tall, lean man, shock of white hair, dignified and very learned and his sermons were spell binding.  Gracious, friendly with a wry sense of humor. He and his wife, Lifsa, added much to our family temple. I am sad that Rabbi Stanley died this week, but fortunately in Israel surrounded by his loved ones. May his memory be for a blessing.
                                                                                    - Frances Ritsky Kluter

Rabbi Schachter was instrumental in helping our daughter, Dana, become the person she is today and instilling in her the love of Judaism. He delighted in how she chanted at her Bat Mitzvah and was as proud of her as we were. I will always remember him for his kindness and brilliance. And I am so grateful to have known him as he has touched my life as well as my family’s in a significant and pure way.
                                                                                     - Joni H. Wasserman

Rabbi Schachter had an uncle, Rabbi Faber, who was the Rabbi in my hometown of Warren, Ohio in the late 1940's early 1950's. When Rabbi Schachter was at the seminary, he came to Warren one summer to visit his uncle. In 1998 - when my aunt, Ann Bellin died - I came to B'nai Jeshurun to discuss funeral plans with Rabbi Schachter.  When he heard my last name, Shultz, and that I came from Warren, he asked if my father was Louis Shultz. I said "yes." He still remembered my father and that my father would pick up enough men for morning Minyan all those years ago.  
                                                                                   - Sonya Shultz

I loved going to temple every Friday and Saturday to listen to Rabbi Schachter's sermons. He was a wonderful person & rabbi. May he Rest In Peace.                                                                                  - Linda Siegan

This is Rabbi Stanley at Havdala and signing the ketuba at my daughter 's wedding March 28 1998.
                                                                                 - Halina Podlipsky

We express condolences to the Schachter family.  We have many fond memories of the Rabbi and remember good times with him & Lifsa. He gave me the privilege of chairing Russian settlement for BJC in the '90s, and David and I of were one of the 1st Simchat Torah honorees. It was a blessing to have known Rabbi Schachter.  
                                                  - Sincerely, Gloria & David Kahan

My late husband, Joel(z”l), and I have a son on the autism spectrum. We wanted him to enjoy and participate fully in bar mitzvah. On Memorial Day 1998, we celebrated with family, friends and Rabbi Schachter. He showed Jonathan incredible patience and love. It was a day of pride and happiness.                                                                       - Rachel Schwarz

Rabbi Schachter was the epitome of a Rabbi. He was a dear friend to Rey and myself.  Rey and Rabbi always had meaningful and fun lunches. Rabbi used to remind me that he and I joined BJC at the same time. He married us and presided over Rey's funeral. He was compassionate, caring, a great speaker and a great leader. So glad to have known him.
                                                                                             - Toby Macknin

Dear Lifsa,
  Listening to your children speak about their father was so moving. I had the privilege of being his first secretary at BJC, acclimating him to our congregants and to Cleveland.  With Don's help, we got Rabbi from here to there. He married us, with Don's dog at Don's feet during the ceremony. I retired early because Don wanted to travel in our camper, but I was pleased to share many of our adventures with Rabbi. 
  One particular event that always sticks in my head was when we performed "A Day in the Life of B.J." I played it on roller skates and Rabbi composed a song which he sang about trying to keep the congregation awake during the sermon. He brought down the house with that one. He had such a good singing voice. I remember that he took singing lessons. 
  I learned so much from Rabbi Schachter. I was so glad that my friend Harvey and I were able to visit you in your new apartment in Israel. As Rabbi always ended a condolence letter with these words, I shall now repeat them for you -  May you and your family be comforted by so many good memories.                                                                          - With love and affection, Bernice Rothman

Our family’s relationship with Rabbi Schachter goes back many years to when he was Vice Chancellor at the Jewish Theological Seminary. My father’s cousin, who was born in Daugavpils Latvia, was moving to NYC with her family and they wanted their son to have a proper Jewish education.  My dad visited with Rabbi Schachter at the Seminary and he made arrangements for their son to attend Solomon Schechter Day School in the New York area.
When we learned that Rabbi Schachter was considering taking over our pulpit at B’nai Jeshurun we were excited and joyously encouraged the move. Our family relationship with him was renewed and blossomed into a warm friendship with Lifsa & him, which with their warm personalities was very easily accomplished. He was a giant of a man, a true mench, and a wonderful Rabbi/teacher.  He took personal interest in his congregants and was appreciated by them for those attributes.
When he announced his pending retirement from the pulpit we were very pleased to learn that he and Lifsa were remaining in town and would remain part of the B’nai Jeshurun family. We were sad to see them move to Israel, but were happy for them being able to reunite with their Israel family. We kept in touch by email and were deeply disturbed to learn of his passing. May his memory be for a blessing and may he rest in peace!
                                                                                                           - Ron & Bunny Moskowitz

I probably had the longest relationship with Rabbi Schachter in this congregation. He was my family's rabbi at Ner Tamid in Chicago. He married Jay and me 55 years ago, two of my brothers and two of my children - Amy & Simon and Cindi & Michael. My parents were involved in celebrating the marriages of their children. We will treasure the memories.
                                                                                                            - Robbie Schonfeld

I first met Rabbi Schachter when my mother was moving to Cleveland and we wanted to look at different Shuls in Cleveland that would meet her needs as well as my family. He was wonderful during our 1-1 meeting with my mom and said, "you’re the first potential member that wanted to interview the rabbi!" Rabbi was always so welcoming to my mom, Estelle Rosenberg (ohm), and our children. His kavannah at daily minyan, his inspirational and informative sermons, his sense of humor - all contributed to his impact. I was especially honored to work closely with him as co-chair of the BJC 130th anniversary celebration as we had a new Torah written and a scroll surviving the Holocaust repaired and taught the congregation about the 613th Mitzvah. Also grateful that he engineered the merger with Congregation Beth Am and brought Schechter to our campus - major developments for the shul community and whole community. His memory will be for blessings.
                                                                                                                         - Harriet Rosenberg Mann and family 

Rabbi Schachter was a trusted advisor, someone I could turn to to help me as we worked in the community to find the right answers to challenging questions.  He had a manner about him that respected different views and could drive to consensus. I was "hosting" a small dinner at the Cleveland College of Jewish Studies (at the time) for Rabbi Norm Lamb, the President of Yeshiva University. The buffet lined open and there was a stir. Some in the group took offense that the buffet included both meat and fish. I looked at Rabbi Shachter and asked, in panic, "what do I do?" He calmly walked away and returned a few moments later with a stack of dishes, which he placed next to the fish on the buffet. He looked at me and said, "If it is important to them, they will know what to do!" and with his smile he went on, "Tom, I am hungry can we eat now?"   

In the late 1980s we worked together on a joint Adult Education program that included Orthodox, Conservative and Reform congregations.  Each time the Rabbi taught, his class was filled with people from all streams of Judaism as he was respected as a scholar and teacher. I had the honor of working with Lifsa for a number of years and their marriage was a marriage of equals. What always inspired me was to watch the two of them support each other in their Jewish communal professions.  While each played a vital role in the community, their egos never got in the way of supporting each other and helping each other in their professionals roles. They were a true team and the Cleveland Jewish community benefited greatly.

It was easy to confuse Rabbi Schachter as a very serious person, but you did not know him if that was your perception. His sense of humor was wily, predictable because his face started to smirk. As I remember him, it will be that smirk because you knew the zinger was coming. May his memory be for a blessing.                                                                              - Tom Sudow

My kids and I have many warm memories of Rabbi & Lifsa inviting us into their home - sometimes for a Sukkot luncheon gathering in the backyard, other times to pick raspberries or water plants while they were in Israel. THEY felt like home to us. Their caring and trust will always be precious to me.                                                                                                       - Diane Dronzek

We have fond memories of celebrating Passover with Rabbi Schachter and his family.  In fact, this experience forever changed our Passover celebrations as we learned a new tune for "Who Knows One" that we now sing every year and teach to any newcomers who join our celebration.  Thanks so much for the wonderful memories.                           - Gena & Ethan Cohen

When my father, Samuel Zelwin, passed away on January 24, 2005, I started going to the morning minyan. My father had been going to the minyan on a daily basis for the previous 12 years. He considered Rabbi Schachter a good friend. At my time of extreme sadness, Rabbi Schachter was there to console me. Rabbi Schachter was the "governor" of the minyan. He made sure the pace of the service went smoothly. His quick wit and interesting stories and D'var Torahs kept everyone captivated. He sat at the head of the breakfast table and seemed to "hold court" on a daily basis. He was there for everyone who had a lost a loved one. When my 11 months of mourning were over, I continued to attend the minyan in large part because of the Rabbi. When Rabbi Schachter announced he was moving to Israel, it left a large void in our minyan. No one was allowed to sit in his seat at the head of the table. Upon hearing of his death, a feeling of extreme sadness engulfed me. I watched his funeral on the internet as the "celebration of the life of Rabbi Stanley Schachter" took place. My good friend was laid to rest. May he rest in peace and his memory be for a blessing.                                                                                                   - Robert Zelwin

Debbie and I first met Rabbi Schachter when we studied with him in the old Lehrhaus in a weekly class about the siddur and variances in the language of the siddur from one service to another.  He shared ideas about why the language might be different in the evening than in the morning or from weekday to Shabbat or Yom Tov, and made his ideas accessible to the lay person with a great deal of humor and aplomb, helping us deepen our knowledge and understanding of our services to make them more meaningful going forward.  I had already known Lifsa at what would become Siegal College, and Debbie and I both appreciated how fortunate our Cleveland community was to have Lifsa and Rabbi Schachter in our midst.

Later on, first as a Board member, and then as an officer and eventually president of B'nai Jeshurun, I always appreciated Rabbi Schachter's advice and guidance.  He used to say, "there's no business like shul business," a play on words from the song There's No Business Like Show Business from the Irving Berlin Broadway Musical Annie Get Your Gun.  What he meant was that, in "shul business," successful leadership takes a lot of respectful listening to often contradictory ideas and concerns from different congregants.  One has to be sympathetic and have the humility to listen respectfully and learn from others in order to bring people together and empower them.  Rabbi Schachter's words and example helped me to grow into a better leader, and I will always appreciate that.

Whether in a Shabbat or holiday sermon, a talk at or after minyan, a class, or just an informal conversation, Rabbi Schachter had a lot of wisdom to impart.  Those of us who were lucky enough to listen gained a lot of incite about Judaism and life that we will take with us and try to impart to others.  Though Rabbi Schachter will be sorely missed, what he taught both in words and by example is a lasting legacy to be cherished.  May his memory be for a Blessing.                                                                   - David Shifrin

We have a nice memory of Rabbi Schachter and our older son Brad when he was in Sunday High School. We were sitting at Sunday morning breakfast when Rabbi Schachter came over after minyan to sit with us. The boys were going to get new yarmulkes after breakfast. The Rabbi asked what kind of yarmulke they were going to purchase. Brad told him it was going to be a Bart Simpson yarmulke. Rabbi Schachter looked and said, "Oh, Baruch Simpson." Rabbi was a wonderful person who could communicate with people of all ages.
                                                                                                                                 - Vic & Sue Amster

Fri, April 19 2024 11 Nisan 5784