In Memoriam: Past President Rabbi Simon

Pictured above: Newly installed National President Rabbi Matthew H. Simon, Alpha Beta (Chicago) 1953, (right) at 1974 convention in Washington, D.C., helped present a special national citation to 1972-1973 National President Arthur J. Horwitz, Theta (University of Pennsylvania) 1948, (center) with assistance from Past National President Stanley I. Fishel, Delta (Columbia University) 1934, who was serving as Zeta Beta Tau Foundation president in 1974.

It is with great sadness that we memorialize Rabbi Matthew H. Simon, Alpha Beta (University of Chicago) 1953, who passed in September at the age of 91. Rabbi Simon served as the 31st International President of the Fraternity from 1974-1976.

Rabbi Simon was a cherished teacher, spiritual leader and friend to the Baltimore community since he took the helm at B’nai Israel Congregation in March 1973, a time when he was also a director of the Supreme Council. He was elected National President in 1974 at the Washington D.C., convention.

Tributes to Brother Simon have been pouring in since his passing just before Rosh Hashanah:

Rabbi Simon was ordained by the Jewish Theological Seminary in 1958 after having received degrees from the University of Chicago and California State University, Northridge. While at CSUN, he served as a volunteer for Gamma Beta Chapter in the 1960s. As a rabbi from Los Angeles, Brother Simon took part in the 1965 civil rights march in Selma, Ala., with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

He served as a U.S. Navy Chaplain in Japan and retired from the Navy as a Captain after 28 years of Naval reserve service.

Rabbi Simon served as president of the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington from 1995 to 1997. Twice he was the national chairman of the Rabbinic Cabinet of the United Jewish Appeal, and was the honorary president of the Rabbinic Cabinet of The Jewish Federations of North America, and was chairman for five years of its National Funding Councils. He was chairman of the Jewish Welfare Board’s Jewish Chaplains Council. He was a past president of the Washington Board of Rabbis.

He retired in 2002, serving as rabbi emeritus for B’nai Israel Congregation as well as at the Walter Reed Military Medical Center in Bethesda for the past 20 years.

Watch: Remarks from Rabbi Simon at B’nai Israel (2020-2022)

Rabbi Simon is survived by his wife, Dr. Sara Rubinow Simon, and their children Brother Ethan Z. Simon, Delta (Columbia University) 1980, and Betsy Cowan (Col. Jeffrey L. Cowan) and six grandchildren. He was also the father of the late Rabbi Joshua Simon (Dr. Miriam Bensimhon).

We mourn the loss of this true, loyal and distinguished brother. Please take a moment to remember Brother Simon, one of Zeta Beta Tau’s important leaders and an inspiring teacher and mentor in the Jewish community. May his memory be a blessing.

Gifts in memory of Rabbi Simon may be made to the Zeta Beta Tau by visiting zbtfoundation.org/donate. Please complete the memorial tribute information section when making your gift.