Michael Sternfield knew from early in his teen-age years that he wanted to become a rabbi.
Always drawn to a life of service to others, he began studying for the rabbinate while still a student at UCLA. Following his graduation, he studied at the Hebrew Union College Jewish Institute of religion in Los Angeles, Jerusalem, and Cincinnati. He was ordained in 1973 and became the assistant rabbi of Congregaton Beth Israel in San Diego. Two years later, at the age of 28, he was chosen to be the congregation’s Senior rabbi, a position he held for nearly 20 years.
In 1994, he accepted the position of rabbi in Durban, South Africa, during South Africa’s transition to multi-racial democracy. Among the most rewarding and exciting times of his life, he was an eye-witness to history and also a participant as the New South Africa became a reality and Nelson Mandela was elected its first African president. In 1995, he returned to the United States and became senior rabbi of the historic Chicago’s Sinai Congregation, from which he recently retired.
The foundation of Rabbi Sternfield’s philosophy is Jewish universalism, the conviction that the purpose of the Jewish religion is social justice, to make our world a better place for people of all faiths, cultures and nationalities. Well aware of the many conflicts in our world that stem from religious animosity, he is devoted to doing all he can to reduce misunderstanding and promote harmony.
Rabbi Sternfield is available for Jewish and interfaith weddings, funerals and memorial services, and other life cycle events in the Chicago area, and is also available for destination weddings. Contact him by phone at 312-320-5538 or by email here.