Rabbi Stanley M. Kessler
Rabbi Stanley M. Kessler (Rabbi emeritus of Beth El Temple, West Hartford, CT), B.A. Yeshiva University, M.A. and Ordination- Jewish Theological Seminary, and multiple honorary doctorates died Thursday morning May 30 2019. Born in Bethlehem, PA in 1923 he was the beloved husband of Maurine Evnen Kessler, who preceded him in passing in 2011. He is survived by his children, Abigail Kessler-Hanna, MD, and Jonathan J. Kessler, and a granddaughter, Georgine Hoge. He is mourned by a brother and sister-in-law Arnold and Naomi Kessler, and numerous nephews and nieces originating from the Philadelphia and Lincoln Nebraska regions, all of whom he loved dearly. After his baccalaureate degree Stanley Kessler followed the call to arms in WWII, by joining the Air Force, flying 18 missions in a Liberator bomber over Italy and Austria. Back in civilian life, he returned to academic studies to become ordained as a Rabbi. Rabbi Kessler and his wife Maurine ministered to many congregations including in Springfield IL and Halifax Nova Scotia. During this time, they made many pilgrimages to the newly formed state of Israel. In 1954 Rabbi Kessler took an appointment as Rabbi to Beth El Temple in West Hartford, CT where he called home to this day. He was named Rabbi Emeritus in 1992 upon his retirement. He loved his congregants, ministering to them in time of need and sharing their joys and milestones, but his pulpit ranged far beyond suburban West Hartford. He was a loud voice as a Freedom Rider in the call against racial discrimination in 1963 and marched with Martin Luther King in Birmingham and Selma Alabama. He was among some of the first to join with King and Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, his professor. During protests they called such marching "praying with one's feet". Throughout his years Rabbi Stanley Kessler championed those who unjustly had less, by societal biases or by circumstance. In 1967 Kessler traveled to the Soviet Union to meet with persecuted Jews - "the Refusnicks"- and lobbied and fought for their freedom throughout the 1970's. Also, Kessler was an activist against the Viet Nam war. Over the course of his long and distinguished career he continued to speak his mind on a wide range of issues from Middle East peace to human rights. He won numerous awards from organizations such as Truah and served in high-level positions in several national organizations, including chairman of the National Rabbinic Cabinet of the United Jewish Appeal. On a personal level he was a lover of poetry, music, nature, skiing and dogs and was an avid reader. A man of integrity, he will be missed by so many.

Funeral services will be held Monday, June 3rd at 11am, in the Sanctuary of Beth El Temple, 2626 Albany Ave., West Hartford. Interment will follow in Beth El Temple Cemetery, Jackson Street Ext., Avon. Following the interment, reception will take place in Kessler Hall at Beth El Temple. Monday Shiva evening services will be held at 7;30 pm, at Beth El Temple, and additional calling hour following the service until 9pm. During the week, evening Shiva, at Beth El Temple, will be held Tuesday at 7;30pm, Wednesday at 6pm, and Thursday at 7:30pm. Morning Shiva services are Tuesday through Friday at 7am, with all services taking place at Beth El Temple. Contributions honoring Rabbi Stanley Kessler's memory may be made to A/V Israel-Jerusalem and sent c/o Abigail Kessler Hanna, 25 Cassandra Blvd, unit 106 West Hartford, CT 06107 for forwarding to Israel, or to the Alzheimer's Association, Connecticut Chapter, 2000 Executive Blvd, Suite 4B, Southington, CT 06489 or to The Jewish Theological Seminary, 3080 Broadway, NY, NY, 10021. No flowers please. Arrangements are entrusted to Weinstein Mortuary, Hartford. To sign the guest book for Rabbi Stanley Kessler, please visit online at

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