Rabbi Stanley F. Chyet, professor emeritus of American Jewish history at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) campus since 1976, and assistant to the president and secretary to the board of trustees of the Skirball Cultural Center since 1981, died at the age of 71 at his home in Sherman Oaks on Oct. 19, 2002, after a two-year battle with cancer.
Chyet was regarded internationally as a preeminent scholar of American Jewish history and a translator of 20th century Israeli poetry. He was a passionate advocate of social justice and a gifted poet.
Born in April 2, 1931 in Revere, Mass., Chyet attended Boston Latin School and was a member of the first graduating class of Brandeis University. He was ordained as a rabbi at HUC-JIR in 1957. In 1960, he earned both his doctorate and his appointment to the faculty of HUC-JIR.
From 1960 to 1978, Chyet served as associate director of the American Jewish Archives and editor of the Journal of the American Jewish Archives. From 1978 to 1997, he served as professor and director of the Edgar F. Magnin School of Graduate Studies in Los Angeles.
In the early 1980s, he helped forge the vision for the Skirball Cultural Center. Chyet's wisdom, warmth and passion for American Jewish history helped shape every aspect of the Skirball. The Skirball's core exhibition, "Visions and Values: Jewish Life from Antiquity to America," is to a major degree the product of his scholarship and teaching brilliance, particularly sections that examine the immigration experience and Jewish life in America, according to Skirball officials
Chyet's writings include a number of books, studies, encyclopedia articles, translations and reviews on various aspects of the modern and American Jewish experience. His translations of contemporary Hebrew poems have appeared in numerous publications and he has published hundreds of articles in scholarly journals.
He served on the executive boards of the Central Conference of American Rabbis and Cincinnati's Yavneh Day School and was involved with the Association for Jewish Studies, the American Jewish Historical Society, the Labor Zionist Alliance, the Jewish Publication Society of America, Americans for Peace Now, the NAACP and Amnesty International. He also served as chaplain in the United States Army Reserve.
He is survived by his wife, Geraldine; son, Michael; and daughter, Susan.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the John Wayne Cancer Institute, St. John's Hospital in Santa Monica or the Skirball Cultural Center.
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