About the Roger E. Joseph Prize
2013 marked the 35th year of the Roger E. Joseph Prize, established by our uncle Burton Joseph, z”l, and our aunt Betty Greenberg, z”l, both of Minneapolis, to honor the memory of their brother and our father, Roger E. Joseph. It is now our honor, as his daughters, to continue this legacy by recognizing exceptional individuals and institutions whose work has made a lasting contribution to the causes of human rights and Jewish survival, and whose conduct not only enhances the values and ideals of Judaism, but reflects the excellence of human conduct epitomized by our father. Our partner in this splendid project has been, since its inception in 1978, the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. Our Uncle Burton recognized in HUC-JIR, and in its then-President, Rabbi Alfred Gottschalk, z”l, the ideal platform from which not only to pay tribute to these remarkable contributions, but to do so in a way that might inspire the next generation of Rabbis, Cantors, Educators—indeed, all of us in the congregation—to aim for such excellence in our lives. These two men were the driving force behind the Prize's foundation, since when, each year, the ideal recipient has been judiciously chosen by Sylvia Posner, and the citation meticulously crafted by her; it is to her and to Zelda Goldsmith in the President’s Office, that we owe the greatest debt of gratitude, as well as to Jean Bloch Rosensaft, who never fails to compose the perfect words for us.
Thirty-five years is a long time. Rabbi Gottschalk is no longer with us, nor is our beloved friend, Dr. Paul M. Steinberg, z”l; our Aunt Betty Greenberg, nor our beloved Uncle Burton who died in 2013. We remember them especially now, and dedicate this website and the book that preceded it to the memory of our uncle, while acknowledging all those at HUC-JIR whose devotion to the Prize has meant so much to us. Rabbi David Ellenson has embraced the Prize, as well as our family. With his abundant energy, together with his colleagues at HUC-JIR, he has taken the Roger E. Joseph Prize forward, ensuring its special place within the Service of Ordination. That the Prize has grown in importance over the years is due, in no small measure, to our remarkable hosts at Congregation Emanu-El of the City of New York. For this we sincerely thank Senior Rabbi David M. Posner, and his colleagues at Congregation Emanu-El, for providing the ideal setting for the presentation of the Roger E. Joseph Prize.
About Roger E. Joseph
Roger E. Joseph was born in Minneapolis in 1917. A Phi Beta Kappa, Magna cum Laude graduate of the University of Minnesota, he prepared for the Law at Harvard and Columbia Universities. He served in Europe during the Second World War, earned a field promotion to Captain, and was cited for bravery. After the war, our father returned to Minneapolis to resume his legal career. In 1951, at the age of thirty-four, he was severely stricken with polio, which left him almost completely paralyzed. After years spent learning to care for himself, he was ultimately able to resume his law practice. Our father was a man of deep ethical conviction and abiding idealism. Despite his own affliction, he readily shared his valiant spirit, compassionate nature, and his remarkable inner strength with others. Until his death in 1966, he was active in many causes, including Temple Israel in Minneapolis, MN; the Jewish Family and Children’s Services; and the National Jewish Hospital, in Denver, CO.
In his eulogy for our father in 1966, Rabbi Albert Minda, z”l, of Temple Israel in Minneapolis stated:
“There was a central dimension in his life’s pattern, and this was the unfailing and abiding love that united him with his dear Roxane, Linda, and Ellen. It was a love to which they responded with all their hearts - a love coupled with their admiration for him whose name they bear. It was, in the words of the prophet, the heart of the father turning unto the children, and the hearts of the children unto the father, and the hearts of both united in the quest for the true, the good and the beautiful.”