SR rabbi emeritus, activist dies

"He showed up

whenever a

voice was

needed on

behalf of people

who couldn't

effectively speak

for themselves."

GEORGIA BERLAND
executive director of the
Sonoma County Task Force
for the Homeless

By MARY CALLAHAN
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Jim Crow's grip on the South was firm when Rabbi Michael Robinson came of age, but the North Carolina youth developed a sense of defiance early.

He was 10 when he went to the back of the bus to take a seat with the black members of his community. When he died early Thursday at age 81, he had yet to return to the front.

Robinson stood by the disenfranchised throughout his life, fighting

from the trenches for peace and social justice, risking criticism, physical discomfort and arrest.

Rabbi emeritus at Congregation Shomrei Torah in Santa Rosa and a well-known activist throughout Sonoma County, he died from a brain tumor discovered in March.

Robinson had survived a round of cancer drugs for lymphoma and leukemia two years before learning of the tumor and decided to decline the available surgical and treatment options, friends said.

He had been in hospice care for

two weeks when he died at his Sebastopol home, before learning of the tumor and decided to decline the available surgical and treatment options, friends said.

He had been in hospice care for two weeks when he died at his Sebastopol home, surrounded by his immediate family "and beloved by many," said close family friend Barbara Herschfeld.

Robinson arrived in Sonoma County in 1989 with his wife, Ruth Hertzman Robinson, and is credited with building Shomrei Torah's reform congregation from fewer than 30 families to 175 families before his 1996 retirement. Shomrei Torah is now Santa Rosa's largest congregation, with 370 families.

MICHAEL ROBINSON
1925-2006 Championed equal rights, environment, social justice


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