Rabbi Sheftel Meir Neuberger, who devoted his life to Ner Israel, dies at 77

Rabbi Sheftel Meir Neuberger (Greengart Photography)

Faculty and students at Ner Israel Rabbinical College are in mourning this month, remembering the life of the school’s president, Rabbi Sheftel Meir Neuberger, who died on Feb. 9.

Neuberger had been diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer nearly two years ago, according to his son, Rabbi Boruch Neuberger, vice president of Ner Israel.

Rabbi Boruch Neuberger described his father as “an extremely energetic, full-of-life person, who tackled and confronted every issue in his life with vigor and energy.”

Rabbi Sheftel Neuberger was elected to his position as Ner Israel’s president in October of 2005, his son said, following in the footsteps of his own father and Ner Israel’s previous president, Rabbi Herman Neuberger.

Ner Israel was Rabbi Sheftel Neuberger’s “lifelong mission,” his son said. Rabbi Sheftel Neuberger had been born into the Ner Israel family and spent the majority of his life there. He began at Ner Israel as a 16-year-old student. According to Rabbi Leonard Oberstein, Ner Israel’s director of planning, Rabbi Sheftel Neuberger would later, as a teacher and highly regarded scholar, give a daily Talmud class at the school. He eventually transitioned into an administrative role in order to help his father, Oberstein said.

“The spirit and energy that runs through the halls and the veins of the student body were very much a part of his legacy and what he infused the institution with,” Rabbi Boruch Neuberger said.

In addition to being at Ner Israel as a student, teacher and administrator, Rabbi Sheftel Neuberger had served as a cantor at Ner Israel during High Holidays.

If “you talk to any student who’s been a student in Ner Israel in the last 50 years, his memorable energy and passion that he put into the service from the High Holidays is something that resonates with students [and] alumni all across the world,” Rabbi Boruch Neuberger said.

Rabbi Sheftel Neuberger was a “dynamic leader who was a presence in any room he entered,” Oberstein said. “He had a talented musical voice and often led prayers on High Holidays and such, which many students recall even years after they’d left.”

Rabbi Boruch Neuberger remembered his father as exhibiting extreme positivity, finding healthy ways to push his children to strive for excellence. His father was a proud Orthodox Jew who cultivated relationships across the spectrum of Jewish Baltimore and with various elected officials, Rabbi Boruch Neuberger said.

“He never allowed the [cancer] diagnosis to get him down or to get in his way of functioning in any which way,” Rabbi Boruch Neuberger said. “And he persevered with a smile on his face and with the same vigor and energy that he had before. That would be to us the most remarkable piece of the last 18, 20 months of his life.”

Rabbi Sheftel Neuberger is survived by his wife Judith Neuberger;  children Rabbi Yosef Neuberger, Rabbi Boruch Neuberger, Devora Krakower, Laya Basch, Rabbi Chaim Shimon, Feige Schwebel and Rabbi Shlomo Dovid Neuberger; brothers Isaac Neuberger, Rabbi Shraga Neuberger, Yaakov Neuberger and Rabbi Ezra Neuberger; and grandchildren and great-grandchildren. He was predeceased by his parents Rabbi Herman and Judith Neuberger.

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