Meet Rabbi Chaim Stern

Image: Rabbi Stern. I was not able to find the owner of this photo of Rabbi Stern; if it is your work, please let me know so that I can give credit.

Rabbi Chaim Stern (1930-2001) was one of the most influential Reform Jewish scholars of the 20th century. He was first and foremost a liturgist, editing and translating prayer books for Jews in North America and in the United Kingdom. He was the editor of Gates of Prayer, the Reform siddur [prayer book] from the 1970’s through 2007 and his work is still very much present in Mishkan T’filah, the new Reform siddur. He also wrote a haggadah, Gates of Freedomand a collection of prayers for the home, On the Doorposts of Your House.

He was a congregational rabbi as well, serving Temple Beth El of Northern Westchester, in Chappaqua, N.Y. for 33 years.

There are many of Rabbi Stern’s writings that I love, but this one, from page 49 of Mishkan T’filah, is a special favorite. It reminds me that “fixed prayer” – reading and reciting prayers that others have said before me – is an important part of self-maintenance if I wish to be fully equipped to meet the challenges of a Jewish life:

Why fixed prayers? To learn what we should value, what we should pray for. To be at one with our people, the household of Israel. To ensure that the ideals painfully learned and purified, and for which many have lived and died, shall not perish from the community, and shall have a saving influence upon the individual.

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Rabbi Ruth Adar is a teaching rabbi in San Leandro, CA. She has many hats: rabbi, granny, and ham radio operator K6RAV. She blogs at and teaches at Jewish Gateways in Albany, CA.

10 thoughts on “Meet Rabbi Chaim Stern”

  1. thank you for sharing this information; I find his writings included in Mishkan Tefillah very warm and inspiring.

  2. Thank you for posting this about Rabbi Chaim Stern. I knew Rabbi Stern when he served at Emanu-El B’ne Jeshurun in Milwaukee. I was in his class for high school students, and he taught us modern poems that expose spiritual problems like T. S. Eliot’s “The Wasteland.” Rabbi Stern was a strong influence on my life. I have now published 6 books, including 2 books for children and 4 for adults. One of my poetry books for adults is Exodus. The poems in Exodus are modern re-interpretations and psychological explorations of the people and events in the Bible. A central metaphor is the exodus from Egypt, which represents the journeys that people make: trying new experiences, leaving a bad relationship, finding a new job, taking risks. Many of the poems are dramatic monologues from the perspective of a character in the Scriptures. WordTech Editions published Exodus in 2014. My website is

    1. Thank you for writing! I admire Rabbi Stern’s work but never had the pleasure of meeting him. Thank you for sharing your memories and your own writing!

    1. Thank you for bringing this to my attention, Mr. Lulow. Would you prefer that I take it down, or that I credit you as the owner and photographer?

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