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PASSINGS

Sylvia Straus Heschel, 94; concert pianist, widow of prominent rabbi

March 31, 2007|From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Sylvia Straus Heschel, 94, a concert pianist and widow of the prominent Jewish theologian Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, died Monday at her home in New York City, her daughter Susannah Heschel said.

Straus, who was born in Cleveland to Russian immigrant parents, studied piano in Cincinnati with Polish-born concert pianist Severin Eisenberger in the early 1940s. While she was living in the city, she met Heschel at a dinner party.

They eventually moved to New York City, separately. She studied piano and he joined the faculty at the Jewish Theological Seminary. The couple married in December 1946.

After their marriage, Sylvia Straus Heschel gave occasional recitals in New York City but spent more of her time teaching music.

Abraham Heschel became a leading teacher of Jewish ethics and mysticism and the author of a number of books. He was also active in the civil rights movement and was among the non-Catholic theologians invited to attend the Second Vatican Council of the Roman Catholic Church.

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