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Reuven Hammer (June 30, 1933 – August 12, 2019)[1] was an American-Israeli Conservative rabbi, scholar of Jewish liturgy, author and lecturer who was born in New York. He was a founder of the "Masorti" (Conservative) movement in Israel and a president of the International Rabbinical Assembly. He served many years as head of the Masorti Beth Din in Israel.[2][3] A prolific writer in both the Israeli and international press,[2] he was a regular columnist for The Jerusalem Post's "Tradition Today" column.[4] He lived in Jerusalem.[5]

Reuven Hammer
Born(1933-06-30)June 30, 1933
DiedAugust 12, 2019(2019-08-12) (aged 86)
Jerusalem, Israel
OccupationRabbi, scholar, writer, lecturer



Hammer earned his doctorate in theology and his rabbinical ordination from the Jewish Theological Seminary.[6]

As president of the 1,500-member[1] Rabbinical Assembly of the Conservative movement in Israel, Hammer authored the movement's official commentary on the prayer book, Or Hadash: A Commentary on Siddur Sim Shalom for Shabbat and Festivals,[1] published in March 2003.[2] This work contains the complete text of Siddur Sim Shalom for Shabbat and festivals, surrounded by a comprehensive commentary. The page layout loosely resembles that of the Talmud. In 2008 Rabbi Hammer, also authored the commentary for Or Hadash: A Commentary on Siddur Sim Shalom for Weekdays.

From October 2005 to July 2007 Hammer was the Interim Rabbi at the New London Synagogue in London, England.[2]

Hammer died of a brain tumour on 12 August 2019 in Jerusalem at the age of 86.[7]

Torah scholarshipEdit

Hammer's Torah scholarship is diametrically opposed to that of Haredi Judaism, which bases its understanding on classic Midrashim and Torah commentators. Unlike Maimonides, who stressed knowledge over faith, Hammer stressed faith over knowledge, having stated, "It is belief and not reason that will determine what one thinks (about what the Bible says and how to behave)".[4]

Honors and awardsEdit

In 2003 Hammer was named to the Forward 50 as one of the most influential Jews in the American Jewish community for his achievements as president of the Rabbinical Assembly.[1] That same year, he received the Simon Greenberg Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Rabbinate by the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies of the University of Judaism (now the American Jewish University).[2]

His books Sifre: A Taanaitic commentary on the Book of Deuteronomy (1986) and Entering the High Holy Days: A guide to origins, themes, and prayers (2005) were awarded the National Jewish Book Award as the best book of scholarship for their respective years.[2]


See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c d Rushkoff, Donald (12 November 2002). "FORWARD 50: Growing Clarity, Sharpening Debate". Retrieved 11 April 2011.
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Rabbi Dr. Reuven Hammer". New London Synagogue. 2011. Retrieved 11 April 2011.
  3. ^ "Articles by Rabbi Dr. Reuven Hammer". My Jewish Learning. Retrieved 11 April 2011.
  4. ^ a b Drazin, Israel (6 July 2009). "Review of 'Entering Torah: Prefaces to the Weekly Torah Portion'". The Jewish Eye. Retrieved 11 April 2011.
  5. ^ Hammer, Reuven (15 May 2009). "The Pope and I". Haaretz. Retrieved 11 April 2011.
  6. ^ "Reuven Hammer". Random House. 2011. Retrieved 11 April 2011.
  7. ^ Masorti pioneer and ex New London Synagogue rabbi, Reuven Hammer, dies at 86

External linksEdit