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Rabbi Max Vorspan, 86; Scholar and Historian

June 16, 2002|From a Times Staff Writer

Rabbi Max Vorspan, scholar, historian, educator and major leader in the Los Angeles Jewish community, has died. He was 86.

Vorspan died Thursday in Los Angeles of causes associated with aging.

An instructor in American Jewish history at the University of Judaism since 1953, he helped develop the school from a small teachers college and adult school into a nationally recognized undergraduate and graduate institution.

Besides teaching, Vorspan served in several administrative posts, including registrar, executive dean and provost, and held the title senior vice president. He helped create the university's department of continuing education and helped found Camp Ramah.

With Lloyd P. Gartner, Vorspan co-wrote "The History of the Jews of Los Angeles," jointly published by the Jewish Publication Society and Huntington Library. For 18 years, Vorspan hosted "Commitment," the university's weekly public affairs program on KCBS-TV Channel 2.

He also founded and directed the Pacific Southwest Region of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism. He was associate director of the Brandeis-Bardin Camp Institute and a member of the Jewish Federation Council board.

Born in St. Paul, Minn., Vorspan earned a bachelor's degree from the University of Minnesota and a doctorate from the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York. He was ordained at the seminary.

He is survived by his wife, the former Sandy Robinson; a son, Rabbi David Vorspan; a daughter, Dr. Rachel Vorspan; and four grandchildren.

A memorial service is scheduled for 10 a.m. Tuesday in Gindi Auditorium at the university, 15600 Mulholland Drive. Burial will be at Mount Sinai Memorial Park at noon, and the campus will host a meal of condolence from 1 to 3 p.m.

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