January 2019 -- Tevet-Shevat 5779,  Volume 25, Issue 1

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The Passing of Amiel Wohl, Rabbi Emeritus of Temple Israel of New Rochelle

Amiel Wohl, Rabbi Emeritus, Temple Israel of New Rochelle, and former New Rochelle, resident, died on January 16, 2019 at the age of 88. For more than 40 years, Rabbi Wohl was a pillar of the Jewish community, whose commitment and passion for bringing together diverse peoples of different faiths and backgrounds, had far reaching impact on the larger New Rochelle and Westchester communities.


Rabbi Wohl served as Senior Rabbi of Temple Israel of New Rochelle for 27 years, from 1973 to 2000, when he retired. During that time, his efforts and reputation for racial harmony extended far beyond Westchester County. He co-founded the Black-Jewish dialogue group, the Coalition for Mutual Respect, with the then pastor of St. Catherine A.M.E Zion Church in New Rochelle. The Coalition is still going strong, holding dialogues, conferences and social events with Black and Jewish members of the community.


Within the walls of the synagogue, Rabbi Wohl created a warm and welcoming environment, inspiring and influencing several generations. He was devoted to his congregation, which continued long after he retired and became Rabbi Emeritus. Rabbi Wohl was known for his hard-hitting sermons on important social and religious topics and even published a book, Entrusted with the Word, with his 50 best sermons.


In addition to his role as the Senior Rabbi, Rabbi Wohl co-founded and served as President of the Interreligious Council of New Rochelle. He served both on the Human Rights Commission of New Rochelle and the Westchester County Human Rights Commission.


In the aftermath of the Yom Kippur War in 1973, Rabbi Wohl organized a county-wide Israel Action Committee to plan and coordinate political action, programmatic and charitable work for Israel. This grew into the Westchester Jewish Conference, now the Westchester Jewish Council, of which he was the first President. He represented the Central Conference of American Rabbis on the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations in the United States and is the past-President of the Westchester Board of Rabbis.


Rabbi Wohl was instrumental in creating a religious broadcast for every Sabbath, the only one in the Metropolitan Area, and he hosted a live call-in radio show with Judge Samuel Fredman to discuss issues of the day. Rabbi Wohl also hosted The Coalition for Mutual Respect cable TV program.


Before coming to New Rochelle, Rabbi Wohl served congregations in Texas, Maryland and California, and was Chaplain for the California State Senate; Rabbinic overseer of the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute Religion; Chaplain for Maryland Law Enforcement Officers and auxiliary Jewish chaplain for the United States Air Force and chaplain for the New Rochelle Police Department.


Born on June 29, 1930, in Cincinnati, the son of Rabbi Samuel and Belle Wohl, Rabbi Wohl graduated from the University of Cincinnati and was then ordained by the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute Religion. He received an honorary Doctor of Divinity from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute Religion and honorary doctorate degrees from the College of New Rochelle and Iona College.