Rabbi Sanford Ragins

Rabbi Sanford Ragins is almost a native Angeleno. Chicago-born, he grew-up in Los Angeles and earned a Bachelor’s degree at UCLA. A member of the first class to study for the rabbinate on the Los Angeles campus of HUC-JIR, he spent a year of study in Jerusalem before completing his rabbinical program and achieving ordination at HUC-JIR’s Cincinnati school in 1962. By then, Sandy had met and married Masayo Isono, an HUC-JIR graduate student from Waseda University in Tokyo. While Sandy served a synagogue in Hingham, Massachusetts and pursued a Ph.D. in the History of Ideas at Brandeis University, Masayo earned a Master’s degree in the University’s Near Eastern and Judaic Studies Department.

In 1964, Leo Baeck Temple invited Sandy to serve as its Rabbi while Leonard Beerman was on sabbatical. He was persuaded to stay on as the temple’s very first Assistant Rabbi for the following year. He went on to serve other congregations in places as diverse as Nebraska and New York, but he eventually returned to Los Angeles and Leo Baeck Temple and became our Associate Rabbi in 1972.

When Rabbi Beerman announced his retirement in 1986, Rabbi Ragins was chosen as Senior Rabbi of the temple. It was our congregation's privilege to have Rabbi Ragins serve in that capacity until his retirement in 2003.

Devoted to many religious and communal organizations, not only in the United States but in Israel and in Europe, Sandy has held countless leadership positions. He has served three times on the National Board of the Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR) and has held the challenging position of that organization’s Chair of the Ethics and Appeals Committee. Rabbi Ragins has been a member of the National Board of the Union of Reform Judaism and President of the Pacific Association of Reform Rabbis.

 Sandy has lectured at HUC-JIR in Los Angeles, at Waseda University in Tokyo, and at the Institut Kirche und Judentum in Berlin. He has been a long-time visiting professor at Occidental College in the Los Angeles area.

Sandy’s writings include articles on Judaism and homosexuality, Eastern European Jewish history, and Zionism. He has published a book on Jewish responses to anti-Semitism in Germany before World War I.

Sandy is spending his retirement hard at work … teaching, writing, and continuing to find ways to bring peace and healing to a broken world. He enjoys having more time to spend with his family, Masayo, Arona, Marc, Noam, Mindy, Yohanna, and especially with his grandchildren.