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Lee Diamond 1940-2019

Lee Diamond ... he had great talent, warmth and charisma

By Ben and Carol Novis

Sunday night, the first night of Succot, we sat in our succah with Lee, happy to be together with friends. Lee sang "shehehiyanu" as only he knew how. Little did we know that it was to be his last. Two days later, he suffered a fatal heart attack, leaving his friends and family bereft.

Lee was a person of great talent, warmth and charisma. He was a superb teacher who left a lasting impression on his students, as can be seen from the dozens of messages from former students around the world, attesting to his lifelong influence on them.

Born in New Jersey, Lee developed a growing interest in Judaism and his Jewish identity, which he never lost. He was ordained as a Conservative rabbi in 1968.

He spent a year in Israel as part of his training in the aftermath of the Six Day War, and this sealed his determination to live in Israel with his family. In Israel, he worked as Director of the Alexander Muss High School in Israel and served as Educational Director of the Union for Reform Judaism. From 2001-2004 he was the very successful rabbi of the Hong Kong United Jewish Congregation.

Our friendship with Lee began when he was instrumental in founding Congregation Hod Ve-Hadar in 1978, which we joined. The first services were held in the Diamond home, and the shul has thrived and grown ever since, in large part due to his early efforts.Not only did he frequently lead services and give drashot with passion, but his enthusiasm for singing was infectious.

He was also one of the founders of the Tali school in Hod Hasharon.

Jewish and Zionist education were of extreme importance in his life and in recent years, he wrote much poetry on the subject. As one of his students wrote, "One of the greats is gone. He did not lose his passion for Israel and the Jewish people and helping young people find themselves as Jews."

Lee touched many lives and he certainly had a great influence on our family and our involvement in the Masorti movement in Israel and the Tali School system.

Deepest sympathy to his three sons and their families and to Averil Shulman, his partner. 



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