The Yeshiva University family is saddened by the passing of Rabbi Meir Fulda z”l, a revered teacher at the University.
Rabbi Fulda was born in Fulda, Germany, on December 25, 1928. His family, including his father, Louis (who had been interned at Buchenwald), managed to arrive in the United States in 1938 after Louis and Sophie, Rabbi Fulda’s mother, found an American consular official who could be bribed for visas. They settled in Washington Heights, among the early members of the German-Jewish Breuer’s Congregation.
Rabbi Fulda was active in the YU community for most of his life. After attending Mesitva Torah Vodaath, he attended the YU High School for Boys, graduating in 1945 as valedictorian of his class. He went on to Yeshiva College, and was again valedictorian, graduating summa cum laude in 1952 . Rabbi Fulda obtained semicha [rabbinic ordination] in 1959 from the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary and a PhD in Talmudic jurisprudence from the Bernard Revel Graduate School of Jewish Studies in 1979.
Rabbi Fulda began his YU teaching career in 1956, teaching Talmud at the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS). The following year, he joined the faculty of the Teachers Institute for Women to teach Jewish law and ethics. (The Teachers Institute was folded into Stern College for Women in 1983.) He served as an associate professor of Talmud at the James Striar School of General Jewish Studies, Isaac Breuer College of Hebraic Studies and the Rebecca Ivry Department of Jewish Studies of Stern College.
In addition to his teaching, Rabbi Fulda was also the administrator of the YU High School for Girls in Brooklyn from 1964 to 1966.
Over his lifetime, he received numerous awards, including being selected as an Outstanding Educator of America (1972), Senior Professor Award at JSS (1976), the Moshe and Madelaine Baumel Judaic Faculty Incentive Award (1990) and the Presidential Medallion (2017).
He was the author of scholarly articles for Hebraic publications, including a wide-ranging volume of Chidushei Torah [personal reflections] on scores of Sugyot [passages from Gemara], which earned him the coveted Rothman Award for a distinguished original contribution to the field of Torah studies. He was also known for his lectures about his experience as a child during Kristallnacht, a testimony also included in We Remember the Holocaust (edited by David A. Adler in 1989) and the documentary More Than Broken Glass: Memories of Kristallnacht, shown on WNYC-TV and PBS on November 6, 1988. He was also interviewed for Names, Not Numbers: A Movie in the Making at Isaac Breuer College 2016-17.
In an article in the Jewish Press on March 19, 1999, Rabbi Fulda said that “if you really study, if you really learn, it’s going to impact on how you act, how you react and how you interact. And that makes a better world,” a sentiment that sums up the affection and devotion he held for his family, his students, his fellow faculty members and the tenets of his faith. Heartfelt condolences go out to his wife, Naomi, and two children, Joseph and Aviva.