Ex-Conservative seminary head dies at 79

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He was also the author of "Choose Life," "Tales of the Fathers of the Conservative Movement" and "You Are Not Alone."

Rabbi David Kogen, who was vice chancellor of JTS while Mandelbaum was president, praised Mandelbaum's influence on the Conservative movement and his work for the school.

"He was very well liked by the lay people of the Conservative movement," said Kogen, emphasizing that Mandelbaum built a reputation as a popular speaker and effective fund-raiser.

"We had to raise our own money," said Kogen. "He was very good at that."

Mandelbaum's death — believed to be the result of a massive heart attack — came suddenly, despite the fact he had been in poor health for a number of years.

Mandelbaum is survived by his second wife, Marcelle, a sister and five children. He also leaves three stepchildren, 10 grandchildren, two step-grandchildren and one great-grandchild.