Philadelphia synagogue’s historian found dead in home

Julie Wiener

(JTA) — A Philadelphia man who served as his synagogue’s informal historian was found beaten to death in his home.

The body of Lee Stanley, 65, a longtime member of Congregation Rodeph Shalom, was found on Friday, CBS Philly reported. Homicide detectives are investigating.

Beth Shalom Cemetery ad

Rabbi Jill Maderer of Rodeph Shalom told the radio station that Stanley’s father, Harry, was a “legendary cantor” at the historic congregation in Center City and that Stanley “had a great love for Judaism, for Jewish prayer, for Jewish history and Jewish music.”

Members of the congregation frequently looked after Stanley, visiting him when he was sick because he had few living family members, the rabbi said.

According to, fellow congregants said Stanley as the synagogue’s informal historian “could pluck from his mind details most others had long forgotten — or never thought to preserve: the precise date the congregation changed the melody for a particular song or tinkered with the Hebrew phrasing of a prayer.”

Police said there were no obvious signs of a break-in or of anything taken, indicating the possibility that Stanley may have known or even admitted his killer or killers into the home.

A $20,000 reward is being offered by the City of Philadelphia for information in the case.