The Hillel family mourns the passing of Rabbi Jim Diamond, a consummate Hillel professional who was loved and respected by students and professionals throughout the Hillel movement.
Jim served as Director of St. Louis Hillel at Washington University from 1972-1995, and as Director of the Center for Jewish Life – Hillel at Princeton University, from 1995-2003, and continued to teach part time at Princeton. Tragically, Jim was killed in a traffic accident on March 28, 2013.
Jim was admired by students and faculty for his kindness, his teaching and his efforts to bring different Jewish denominations together. His great work for Hillel went beyond University borders, and touched many around the globe. He was an inspiration to all.
In a history of The St. Louis Hillel Center, printed on their 50th anniversary, Jim reflected, “My Hillel experience has imbued me with the conviction that fear, insecurity and ignorance need not be the touchstone of Jewish experience in this post-modern, post-Zionist, post-everything world; that Jewish life is about hope and Torah, however we choose to define Torah; and that being Jewish is not a burden to be endured but a blessing to be celebrated.”
Rebecca Simons, who is a Washington University alumna, a former student of Rabbi Diamond, and now Director for Jewish Life at Duke University, shares, “Rabbi Diamond was kind to everyone. He taught me that we serve ALL Jewish students on campus, including those who we never see.”
Scott Brown, Hillel’s Vice President for Talent, notes that, “Those fortunate enough to have had the privilege to work with Jim, either when he served as Hillel Director at Washington University in St. Louis or at Princeton, had the opportunity to know a gentle giant within the Hillel family.”
Executive Director of the Center for Jewish Life – Hillel at Princeton University, Rabbi Julie Roth, reflects, “I was fresh out of rabbinical school when I started here, taking over for one of the gadolim in the movement, and he gave me all the space I needed to shine. He had this ability to simultaneously hand over the reins completely, while answering every little question I had whenever I needed it. He was our shofar blower on Rosh Hashanah – I can picture him now. He always blew a very small shofar with such a loud and powerful sound. That was Jim: wise yet unassuming, gracious and understanding.”
Our hearts and prayers are with Jim’s family. May they be comforted among the mourners of Zion and may Jim’s memory always be a blessing.
To share your own memories, pictures, and to celebrate Jim’s life, visit the Center for Jewish Life – Hillel at Princeton University’s Facebook Memorial Page.
More reflections on the life of Rabbi Diamond:
The Jewish Daily Forward
The St. Louis Beacon
New Jersey Jewish News
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Rabbi Jim S. Diamond, z"l - STL Hillel Memorial Page