Rabbi Richard Nelson Levy was the Rabbi Emeritus of the Campus Synagogue and Director of Spiritual Growth at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion's Jack H. Skirball Campus in Los Angeles. Previously, he had served as the Skirball Campus' Director of the School of Rabinnical Studies. He was a past president of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, in which post he shepherded the creation of the Statement of Principles for Reform Judaism in 1999. Levy was Director of the Hillel Council at UCLA from 1968-75 and then until 1999 as Executive Director of the Los Angeles Hillel Council. His first pulpit was as the Assistant Rabbi at Leo Baeck Temple in Los Angeles from 1966-1968. A 1959 graduate of Harvard University, where he was Managing Editor of The Crimson, he was ordained at HUC-JIR in 1964 and received an honorary doctorate from there in 1984. He was the editor of On Wings of Awe, a High Holyday prayer book, re-issued in a revised edition in 2012; On Wings of Freedom, a Passover Haggadah; and On Wings of Light, a Shabbat evening prayer book. He wrote A Vision of Holiness: The Future of Reform Judaism in 2005, and Songs Ascending: The Book of Psalms in a New Translation with Textual and Spiritual Commentary in 2017. He contributed to the Reform prayer books Gates of Prayer and Mishkan T'Filah, and his translations and commentaries have been used in congregations across the country. He was a passionate advocate for civil rights, social justice, and peace. At the invitation of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., he was part of a delegation of 16 Reform rabbis and one lay leader to stage a public protest against segregation in St. Augustine, FL, on June 18, 1964, where they were subsequently arrested in what is thought to be the largest mass-arrest of rabbis in American history. From their cell, they wrote "Why We Went," a letter that expressed the rabbis' commitment to the Jewish and human obligation to fight injustice. He was a co-founder of Bet Tzedek Jewish Legal Services in 1972, one of the founding co-chairs of the Sandra Caplan Community Bet Din in 2002, a member of the J Street Rabbinic and Cantorial Cabinet and Advisory Council, a lifelong member of the Jewish Peace Fellowship, and a member of the board of Americans for Peace Now. Born in Rochester, NY, to Miriam (Baker) and Maurice Levy, he was married for 43 years to Carol Elaine (Kretzer) Levy, who died in 2015. He was the father of Sarah and Elizabeth Levy, father-in-law of Connor Kalista and Chad Kenward, and grandfather of Elijah Kalista.
[A Psalm] of David.
1. Adonai is my light and my victory-; whom shall I feel fright? Adonai is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I feel terror?
2 When evil-doers came upon me to feed on my flesh,
My pursuers, my adversaries, they have stumbled, they have fallen down.
3 If a camp encamps against me,my heart will not fear;
If a war arises against me, in this I would trust;
4 One thing I have sought of Adonai, how I long for it: That I may live in the house of Adonai all the days of my life,
That I may look upon the sweetness of Adonai, and spend time in the Palace;.
5 That You might hide me in Your Sukkah on a chaotic day! Hide me in the hiding places of Your tent; Raise me high upon a rock.
6. Now my head rises high above my enemies roundabout; and In Your tent I’ll offer offerings to the sound of t’ruah. I shall sing and chant praises to Adonai! the Divine
7. Hear, Adonai, my voice. I am crying out! Be gracious to me, and answer me!.
8. My heart has said to You:: 'Seek My face'; I am seeking Your face, Adonai.
9. Do not hide Your face from me; Don’t turn Your servant away in anger;
You have been my help; Do not forsake me, do not abandon me, God of my deliverance.
10. For though my father and my mother have abandoned me.Yet, Adonai gathers me up.
11. Make Your path apparent to me, Guide me in the upright road because of those up ahead who live in wait for me.
12. Do not hand me over to the lust of m adversaries; for false witnesses have risen against me puffing violently!
13. Had I not the faith that I would see the goodness of God in the land of life...
14. Wait for Adonai; Fill your waiting with hope in Adonai. Let your heart be strong of of good courage and wait hopefully for Adonai.
1. A psalm: A dedication - song for the house of David.
2. I will raise You high, Adonai, For You have pulled me up, AndYou have not let my enemies rejoice over me.
3. Adonai my God, I cried out to You - and You healed me!
4. Adonai, You brought me body and spirit, up from Sheol; You have kept me alive that I should not plunge into the Pit.
5. Sing to Adonai, Members of the covenant- Give thanks to God’s holy presence!
6. For there is a moment of your anger, A lifetime of Your favor; In the evening, crying moves in, But the morning - song!
7. As for me, I would say when I was prosperous; “I shall not ever be shaken!”
8. Adonai, it pleased You to establish a stronghold on my mountain. Then You hid Your face- I was terrified!
9. To You, Adonai, I call. To my Superior I plead for grace;
10 “What profit is there in my blood, in my plunging into the Pit? Can dust praise You? Can it declare Your truth?
11. Listen, Adonai - show graciousness to me; Adonai be a help to me!”
12. You have turned my wail into a waltz for me! You’ve untied my tatters, You’ve girded me with joy-
13. So that Glory may sing a psalm to You and spare the silence, the silence of blood; Adonai my God, my Thanks I give to You forever.
All English translations come from Rabbi Levy's "Songs Ascending: The Book of Psalms: A New Translation (CCARPress, New York 2017)