A Message on the Passing of Rabbi Harold White

August 31, 2015

Dear Members of the Georgetown University Community:
 
It is with great sadness that I share that Rabbi Harold S. White, a beloved member of our community since 1968, has passed away.  As the first full-time rabbi appointed to a campus ministry position at a Catholic university in the United States, Rabbi White made an indelible impact as a caring mentor, teacher, interfaith leader and friend. 
 
Over the course of his nearly 50 years here, his accomplishments were many: he taught and counseled countless students from across faith traditions; he led our celebrations of the High Holy Days in Gaston Hall; and he worked to enhance our academic offerings focused on Judaism, including helping to create the Program for Jewish Civilization in 2004 and championing it since.  He often spoke of his pride in working at a Catholic university that fostered interfaith dialogue and sent many graduates to the Rabbinate.
 
Rabbi White also worked tirelessly to build bridges among faiths and communities at Georgetown and beyond.  Deeply committed to interfaith understanding, Rabbi White co-taught a popular course with Fr. Dennis McManus and Imam Yahya Hendi centered on dialogue among Abrahamic faiths.  The course once included a trip to the Holy Land, which allowed participants to engage with interfaith efforts through diverse partnerships that Rabbi White and other Georgetown colleagues helped to establish. 
 
Rabbi White’s devotion to our shared values and our mission as a community was unparalleled.  His leadership and vision in creating opportunities for dialogue strengthened our community and helped build the ethos of engagement that characterizes our campus ministry today.  His accomplishments are a testament to the lasting impact he has had on Jewish life here at Georgetown; he will be deeply missed by our entire University community.
 
Prior to coming to Georgetown, Rabbi White served Jewish communities in Dublin, Ireland and Ann Arbor, Michigan and across the Washington, D.C. area.  He also served as a chaplain for the United States Navy.  He completed his undergraduate degree at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut—his home state—and received his rabbinical ordination at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America in New York City.
 
We are deeply saddened by his passing and are planning a University memorial service to celebrate his life and his extraordinary contributions to our community.  We will share further details in the days ahead.
 
Please join me in expressing our deepest condolences to Rabbi White’s family.  I invite you to share a memory, photo or message of sympathy on our memorial webpage
 
May his memory be for a blessing.
 
Sincerely,
John J. DeGioia