A Westside rabbi who was a vocal critic of Israel, and who built bridges with Muslims, has died. Rabbi Leonard I. Beerman was 93.
His wife Joan told the Los Angeles Times that Beerman died of congestive heart failure. His funeral was set for Dec. 28 at Leo Baeck Temple in Bel Air.
Beerman last appeared at the Temple in October and delivered a Yom Kippur sermon that blasted Israeli Army tactics during the summer’s war in Gaza, the newspaper reported.
His death was lamented today by the Muslim Public Affairs Council, where senior advisor Maher Hathout called the rabbi “a fearless interfaith advocate whose inspirational legacy will live on forever.”
A U.S. Marine in World War II, Beerman went to Jerusalem to study for the rabbinate, and joined the Jewish underground army to battle Arabs. That made him an ardent pacifist.
He told The Times “I became a pacifist because of what I had seen. People transformed to just hating, hating, hating. It’s no way for humankind to survive.”
Beerman moved to Los Angeles in 1949 and founded Leo Baeck Temple, which first met in a Westside Episcopal church. In 1963, it moved to its current site on Sepulveda Boulevard near the Getty Center.
Beerman angered many Jews by calling for a two-state solution in Palestine and Israel, and forbade trhe Israeli and U.S. flags from the temple.
“Nationalism and faith should not mix,” he told The Times.
Funeral services are planned for 11 a.m. Sunday at the temple, 1300 N. Sepulveda Blvd.
He is survived by his wife; daughters Judith Beerman O’Hanlon, Eve Beerman and Elizabeth Beerman Rothbart; sister Helene Sternberger; brother Jack Beerman and four grandchildren.