Harold Schulweis, the rabbi at Valley Beth Shalom in Encino for nearly 45 years, was "regarded as the most influential synagogue leader of his generation," the Jewish Journal says today. "Schulweis recognized the power of congregations to shape the lives of a generation of Jews isolated from community and alienated from their traditions. In 1970, he took the pulpit of VBS in the burgeoning San Fernando Valley. Under his leadership, the synagogue grew to become the largest Conservative congregation in the Western United States."
“He’s the John Wooden of rabbis. When he speaks, the most powerful, the most successful people hang on his words," former county supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky says. “His death is an incredible loss and he is leaving us a legacy that no one is likely to eclipse. We, who were touched by him, are the blessed ones.”
Schulweis became among the first conservative rabbis to openly welcome gay and lesbian Jews into the synagogue, in 1992. He died at home after a long struggle with heart disease, per the Jewish Journal.