A portion of Kendall Drive is now named Rabbi Herbert Baumgard Road.
The Pinecrest Village Council held a ceremony Friday in honor of the late Rabbi Herbert Baumgard. He was the founding rabbi of Temple Beth Am in Pinecrest and served the community for more than three decades.
The intersection of Southwest 60th Avenue and 88th Street, adjacent to the temple, will keep Baumgard’s memory alive.
“To have Rabbi Baumgard’s name written over the street, we all know that his presence will forever watch over us,” said Jeremy Barras, senior rabbi at the temple. “There are a lot of people of the world who become famous, well known, and have their names on things, sometimes for all the wrong reasons. But for our students to now drive here every single day and see his name, written on a street sign, for all the right reasons and for all the goodness that he embodied, is a real gift and a real blessing.”
In addition to holding religious services, Temple Beth Am —formerly South Dade Jewish Center — has a pre-school, elementary school and religious school and offers after-school care programs.
“Under Rabbi Emeritus Herbert Baumgard’s leadership, Temple Beth Am grew from a small synagogue of 55 families in 1955 to a 14.5-acre campus boasting a strong and dynamic membership of 1,700 Jewish and interfaith families,” said Michelle Hammontree, spokeswoman for the village of Pinecrest. “It is now recognized as one of the largest and most well-respected Reform congregations in the southeast United States.”
Baumgard’s family said his service as a chaplain’s assistant during World War II drew him to become a rabbi. Baumgard went on to attend the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion and was ordained in 1950. He would later become a leading expert on Jewish prophets.
He died on April 15. He was 95 and suffered from congestive heart failure. He had just finished writing a book about his experiences as a rabbi.