On Tuesday, August 20, the Jewish world lost a champion of peace and a lover of Israel with the death of Rabbi Peter Knobel.
This past spring, Rabbi Knobel celebrated the 50th anniversary of his ordination from HUC-JIR. During his five decades in the rabbinate, he was an advocate for the two-state solution and for justice and peace for Jews and Palestinians, and he was one of the first rabbis to join the J Street Rabbinic and Cantorial Cabinet after its formation.
Peter was the senior rabbi of Beth Emet The Free Synagogue in Evanston, Illinois for 30 years and rabbi emeritus for the last nine. Under his leadership, Beth Emet was a center for thoughtful conversation and dialogue about Israel and the conflict, hosting many prominent Jewish and Palestinian academics, journalists, politicians and peace advocates. Peter would often say, “Never apologize for your principles,” and he lived by that wisdom.
He was never afraid to take controversial stands or shy away from the truth even if people chafed at his views. He lived with honesty and integrity and was a tireless advocate for justice and peace for all the inhabitants of the Land of Israel. His moral voice and passion will be missed, but his legacy will endure as a model for all of us.
He is survived by his wife of 53 years, Elaine (née Goodman) “Goodie” Knobel, his sons Seth Knobel and Jeremy Knobel and daughter-in-law Alyssa (née Feinberg) Knobel.
May his memory be for a blessing.