Gary Tobin: Jewish researcher, dies at 59

Source: JTA, 7-7-09

Gary Tobin, a prominent Jewish researcher who challenged conventional Jewish wisdom, has died. Tobin, the president of the Institute for Jewish & Community Research in San Francisco, died late Monday following a long illness. He was 59. Tobin, who was known for his provocative research, urged the community to be more open to converts, arguing that it was a viable way to grow Jewish numbers. He also was a fierce critic of the National Jewish Population Survey, claiming that its methodology was flawed and that it had undercounted American Jews by more than 1 million. His work also addressed Jewish philanthropy and community diversity. “Gary was a visionary about the Jewish community,” said Leonard Saxe, a professor at Brandeis University who succeded Tobin as director of the Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies there. “He identified problems and issues in the community and often developed these really creative analyses, whether it was about the role of synagogues or the makeup of communities and more recently about philanthropy.” The funeral was scheduled for Thursday.

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