Opening Remarks at Exhibit of Rabbi Judah Nadich chaplaincy documents, JTS November 7, 2011

Remarks of Leah Nadich Meir at the opening of the exhibit of

Judah Nadich: Rabbi, Military Chaplain, and Community Builder at the library at the Jewish Theological Seminary

The entire Nadich extended family is immensely proud and grateful tonight. This exhibit is the culmination of a process that began some three and a half years ago, when our family decided to donate our father’s voluminous papers, records and documents from over fifty years in the active rabbinate to the archives of the Jewish Theological Seminary.

His precise and thorough notes, journals and records reflected his personality, but also his keen sense of history. He was well aware that he was witness to cataclysmic events in Jewish history, both during WW II and afterward, events that he had responsibility to record for future generations. His record-keeping included not only journals, sermon-notes (from every single sermon spanning 60 years!), clippings and professional correspondence, but also, during the war, almost daily letters to his sisters in Baltimore describing the daily challenges of chaplaincy during those tumultuous and often tragic days. He asked them to save the letters for his return; we found them in chronological order among his papers. Later on, he recorded, in daily letters to his then-fiancé, our mother, the daily challenges of a grueling speaking tour throughout South Africa to raise funds for WW II survivors.

When our family considered what to do with this treasure-trove of historical material, we knew that the Seminary was just the natural place for them. Our father had studied here with the  הדור   גדולי(the great scholars of his generation) who influenced him throughout his career (and handwritten notes from their courses are included in the archives); our mother, Hadassah Ribalow Nadich, graduated from the TI and worked here as Executive Secretary of the Rabbinical Assembly. Our parents’ romance and 60-year partnership began in this building during a Rabbinical Assembly convention, when our father was just out of military uniform. Our father served on the Seminary board for many years. Both our parents were deeply and passionately devoted to the Seminary, its mission and its values.

So you see, the Seminar is “home” for these archives. Thanks to an agreement between the Seminary and the US Holocaust Museum in Washington DC, the materials related to his service during World War II also reside at the US Holocaust Museum in Washington, but the entire archival collection is at the Seminary.

We want to express our appreciation to everyone at the Seminary involved in this project: to Chancellor Arnold Eisen for getting the process going: to Dr. David Kraemer, Director of JTS’s library for his ongoing support, to Michala Biondi for her very skilled and devoted work on the archiving process, to Sarah Diamant who curated the exhibit with such care and to Naomi Steinberger at the Seminary library for shepherding the work, overseeing this evening’s event and keeping us posted every step of the way. We also want to express our heartfelt thanks to those who helped make this archiving process possible, and many of you here tonight are counted among them. תודה מקרב לב (thanks from the bottom of our hearts.)

We hope that, beyond those who come to view this wonderful exhibit, researchers and scholars will mine these archives for what they can tell us about the survival and flourishing of the Jewish people from its darkest days to the bright promise of a thriving global Jewish nation that we hope will be fulfilled במהרה בימינו. Our אבא ואמא, סבא וסבתא (Aba, Ima, Saba, Savta) would be truly proud tonight.


Rosh Hashanah Sermon 5749-1988

Two years ago on Rosh Hashanah I told you that I was preaching my last Rosh Hashanah sermon at the Park Avenue Synagogue, that I would be retiring at the end of that year.  Well here I am back again and I do not mind telling you it feels good.  I am delighted to stand here again and to be able to look out at this wonderful congregation and to see so many good friends and to have the opportunity of wishing each one of you and your loved ones a year of health and happiness.  I am appreciative of the kind invitation of Rabbi Lincoln and of the officers of our congregation. Continue reading ‘Rosh Hashanah Sermon 5749-1988’

D’var Torah at a Memorial for Martha Hadassah Ribalow Nadich – Meir Lakein

נפל עטרת ראשינו

The crown of our head has fallen.

I never had the zechus to know either of Nommi’s parents, so I know them through her.  Through the stories that Nommi has been kind enough to share with me, yes, but that’s only part of it.  I also know them through the way that Nommi carries on their work, the way that she models who they are.  Talking to Nommi after her mother was niftar, I said that the more I learn about her parents, the more I understand where she came from.

Continue reading ‘D’var Torah at a Memorial for Martha Hadassah Ribalow Nadich – Meir Lakein’

From the Writings of Martha Hadassah Ribalow Nadich: My Brother, Harold U. Ribalow

My Brother, Harold U. Ribalow (from the Jewish Spectator, 1983)
“My brother Uri died twice.  The first time on the night of May 9, 1977, in the operating room at New York University hospital.  After many hours of open heart surgery, his heart failed.  It was only after two more operations and the desperate efforts of an unusual medical team that he survived.  Everybody who was at all involved said it was a miracle that he did.  From that day til the day he closed his eyes forever, on October 22nd, 1982, I always felt that his life was a gift, and each time I heard his voice over the phone, it seemed to me it came from another world, a world he had already partially entered.”

From the Writings of Martha Hadassah Ribalow Nadich: Love After Death

Love After Death (from the Jewish Spectator, 1980)
“After my mother’s death last spring, I realized that many well-meaning people offer the wrong consolations.  My mother died ‘at a good old age,’ it is true, but this did not lessen my sorrow.”

email thoughts

The email below was written by Reena Ribalow, a poet and writer who lives in Jerusalem.  She is the niece of Martha Hadassah and cousin to Leah, Shira, and Nommi. 


Dear Meirs, Levins and Belcourts,

It’s been hard to even gather my thoughts to write to you. Martha’s going seemed to take a part of me, as well; also, it deepened and reawakened the loss of my father. The two were so intertwined by love, history, respect: their bond was largely unspoken, but so palpable it had a life of its own. It was something with which I grew up, showing how deep and unwavering love can be. One of my more consoling thoughts was– now my father has company. They are together again, as they were in their small Bronx bedroom (where he told her a monster would eat her toes if they were uncovered, and she could never sleep with uncovered toes for the rest of her life). Continue reading ’email thoughts’

Martha Hadassah Ribalow Nadich – paid obituaries

Continue reading ‘Martha Hadassah Ribalow Nadich – paid obituaries’

About this site

This is a tribute to Rabbi Judah Nadich z"l and Martha Hadassah Ribalow Nadich z"l, created and maintained by their family. If you have a memory or thought to share, please submit it to nadichblog at gmail dot com.

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