RABBI FLORENCE DANN certainly made her mark in this world. Originally from New York, Rabbi Dann received her Bachelor’s Degree in English from Brooklyn College and did graduate work at New York University and CW Post on Long Island, New York. After teaching English for several years, she entered the world of educational publishing, later moving to California to write and produce educational videos and collateral materials. Working in that field, Florence received a number of awards for her writing. In 1993, Florence realized a life-long dream and became a bat mitzvah.
As an active member of University Synagogue in Irvine, Florence taught in Religious School for a number of years as well as being a member of the synagogue choir. Recently, she has taught a series of adult education courses at her home synagogue and at Ahavat Torah in Brentwood. She served as Vice President of the West Coast Region of the Jewish Reconstructionist Federation.
Florence was also the recipient of the JRF Ira Eisenstein’s Service award. And, she became the Director or the TBI Beit Sefer Religious School in July, 2017.
For us here at Jlife, Florence is a presence and voice that will be sorely missed. She came into our lives many years ago and we have been a better, more well-rounded team for it. She always had an important point to call out or a funny antedote to add. And, her knowledge of Judaism and life in general was humbling.
It was that constant search for knowledge and a unquenched desire to keep growing in life that led Florence to a wonderful goal… to become a rabbi. And this past May, she realized that dream when she was ordained. As a team, we have never been more proud.
Jlife team member, Perry Fein, wanted to share the following message, which conveys what we are all feeling in our hearts as well:
“I had the pleasure and privilege of getting to know Florence L. Dann over the last few years after joining the editorial board of Jlife Magazine,” says Perry. “Once a month, between six and eight of us would converge on Mimi’s Cafe to discuss the upcoming issue, pitch stories, receive assignments and shmooze about politics, television and life.
Florence was an inspiration to me in many ways. Not only did she exude a love of reading and writing—which clearly stuck with her throughout her life—but she also had a deep love of Judaism and its clairvoyant wisdom passed down from generation to generation. Florence possessed a remarkable ability to apply some of our faith’s seemingly obsolete passages in a modern context.
When I think of Florence and cherish her memory, a quote from renowned rabbi and Jewish thinker Mordecai Kaplan comes to mind: ‘Where Jewish education is neglected, the whole content of Judaism is reduced to merely an awareness of anti-Semitism. Judaism ceases then to be a civilization, and becomes a complex.’ Florence’s appreciation for—and connection to—Judaism stood in stark contrast with the cautionary tale of which Kaplan warns.
In one of the last articles she penned for Jlife, “Tribalism,” Florence voiced concern about the increasingly polarized discourse which characterizes our society. Clearly, to her, being Jewish was about more than just banding together with other ‘members of the tribe” for collective comfort or safety. Judaism and its eternal lessons informed Florence every day of her life. She will be missed but her memory lives on.”
Anyone who was blessed to know Florence knew her as a woman of substance. When she walked into the room you turned to look and when she had something to say you listened. Not only did she bring a staggering amount of knowledge to the table, she was also just and amazing person and a great friend. Always had a smile and laugh ready for you and hug on stand-by. She will truly be missed. Say not in grief: “She is no more, but live in thankfulness that She was.”