Richard Schreibstein, former Federation president, dies at 71

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Richard Schreibstein, former president of the Jewish Federation of Howard County
Richard Schreibstein, former president of the Jewish Federation of Howard County (Janet Schreibstein)

10/21/20 5:06 p.m. Update: This story has been updated to include additional information from Michael Schreibstein. 

“If we win the league, I’ll take you out to dinner,” said Janet Schreibstein, recalling the words of her late husband Richard Schreibstein, former president of the Jewish Federation of Howard County, during the early days of their courtship in a bowling alley. “I didn’t know at the time, but his team was so far in first place that they could have not showed up and he would have won,” she chuckled. What followed was five years of dating, then 48 years of marriage.


Richard Schreibstein died at 71 on Oct. 1.

Schreibstein, who was born May 7, 1949, served as the president of the Federation from 2014 to 2016, in addition to founding his own law firm and raising a family that included his daughter, Melissa, and son, Michael.

He first met his wife at 11, as they were in the same carpool for Hebrew school, but they didn’t begin dating until just before the start of his sophomore year in college.

“He cared a lot about community and bringing community together, and he also cared about the future leadership of the organization,” said Dr. Rachel Simon, the current president of the board of the Federation. “So I saw him as a mentor, and I do believe that his legacy is a stronger Jewish community in Howard County and within the future leaders of Jewish Howard County.”

Some of Schreibstein’s major accomplishments as president, Simon said, entailed bringing in future leaders for the Federation. This included Beth Millstein, who was president prior to Simon’s time in the position, as well as a number of board members who continue to serve their community to this day.

From left: Eve Finstein, Melissa Schreibstein, Richard Schreibstein, Janet Schreibstein, Sara Rubinstein and Michael Schreibstein
From left: Eve Finstein, Melissa Schreibstein, Richard Schreibstein, Janet Schreibstein, Sara Rubinstein and Michael Schreibstein (Janet Schreibstein)

Janet Schreibstein said he wanted to engage more young people in programs related to Yom HaShoah, as opposed to it being observed by “just the old folks.”

He founded a law firm, Richard Schreibstein LLC, in October of 2002, which later became Schreibstein Tucker LLC. He left the firm in late 2018 to work as a principal at the Offit Kurman law firm.

“It was truly an honor and a privilege to work with him every day for 18 years,” said Schreibstein’s son Michael, who worked in his father’s law firm. “He practiced law for over 40 years and he was a master of his own craft, and he was respected by his clients, respected by his peers for his hard work, his dedication, his effort and his time.”

Schreibstein was a member of Temple Isaiah, Janet Schreibstein said. Melissa Schreibstein added that he “led the Passover seder and always made sure each year to bring in an article that tied the story to some current events or connect it back to his value system. I think that just being Jewish was something that mattered a great deal to him.”

Simon remembered learning from Schreibstein how important it is to “lead from your heart and with a passion and what you have.” Recalling his warmth and kindness, she noted how “watching him more as a leader, and as he spoke, he had strong opinions but you could tell that they came from a good place, and he had the best intentions for the community and had passion for the community.”

According to his wife and daughter, he was known as an excellent bowler, a snappy dresser and a practitioner of the occasional joke or witticism. He was recognized with the 2011 Lamplighter Award for his support of local Chabads. Janet Schreibstein recalled loving his sense of humor, his honesty and the importance he placed on his Jewish identity. Melissa Schreibstein mentioned his integrity and generosity, saying that he “really showed how he cared to so many people, and so that’s been wonderful to hear people talk about how much he gave them, how much he helped them and supported them and cared for them.”

“He was everything to me,” said Michael Schreibstein. “He was my very best friend, and he was my role model, my boss, my mentor, and he was the greatest father. He really was.”

While Richard Schreibstein may be gone, tangible reminders of his presence linger on in the dwellings of those who knew him best.

“If you come into my home, in my living room,” Janet Schreibstein said, “you’ll see, looking a little out of place, a bowling trophy,” the very same trophy of the game that won him the league, his wife and his family.

Richard Schreibstein is survived by wife Janet Schreibstein, children Melissa (wife Eve Finstein) and son Michael (fiancée Sara Rubinstein) Schreibstein. He is also survived by siblings Scott H. (Christine) Schreibstein and Stacey C. (Shane) Paxman.

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