Rabbi Albert Plotkin, known far and wide as one of the greatest (and most egalitarian) spiritual leaders to lead a congregation in these parts, died on Wednesday. He was 89.
Plotkin was a remarkable man.
He was in the forefront of the civil-rights movement of the 1960s, and worked until the end of his life (friends say he was "with it" until he died of a heart attack yesterday morning) at trying to bridge the ecumenical gap between his faith and all others.
Heck, for years the diminutive Jewish guy from South Bend, Indiana, was the Rabbi-in-Residence at All Saints Episcopal Church. The Lord does work in mysterious ways, huh?
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We knew Plotkin as a sharp-minded, quick-witted gentleman, who seemed to remember remembered everything and everyone. We will remember him as someone who never lost faith that human beings--despite our obvious ongoing flaws (or worse) aren't all bad.
We spent time chatting with the rabbi last year at a Bar Mitzvah, where he donned a white party hat and sang up a storm. He spoke about President Barack Obama and the hopes he had that the United States might have a chance to do some good things, though he admitted that he wasn't holding his breath.
Plotkin laughed a lot during our conversation, which really was a dialogue--the guy liked to listen as much as to talk--and he didn't miss a trick. The guy knew more about what was going on in the world than most college students, and certainly more than us.
A service for the late rabbi is scheduled for tomorrow (Friday) at 10 a.m. at Congregation Beth Israel, 10460 N. 56th Street, on the Phoenix-Scottsdale border. Plotkin was the spiritual leader at that synagogue from 1955 until the mid 1990s, and remained active there until his death.