A nonprofit, independent news source to inform, inspire, educate and connect the St. Louis Jewish community.

St. Louis Jewish Light

A nonprofit, independent news source to inform, inspire, educate and connect the St. Louis Jewish community.

St. Louis Jewish Light

A nonprofit, independent news source to inform, inspire, educate and connect the St. Louis Jewish community.

St. Louis Jewish Light

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Dr. Rabbi Joseph Feder

Dr. Rabbi Joseph Feder, February 20, 1932 – February 7, 2024

Joseph Feder, a distinguished scientist and Torah scholar passed away in St. Louis on February 7, 2024 (28th Sh’vat 5784).  Funeral services and interment were held Friday, February 9, 2024 in the Eretz Hachaim Cemetery, Israel.

Joseph (Joe), zt”l, was born in St. Louis, Missouri to Ruth and Morris Wolf Feder.  During his high school years, Joe moved to Chicago to study in Yeshiva and was active in B’nei Akiva, where he met the love of his life, Charlotte (nee’ Pollack).

Joe received his Rabbinical (Smicha) ordination from the Hebrew Theological College of Chicago.  Joe’s Smicha ordination diploma was personalized with exceptional praise for his exalted, scholarly knowledge of Torah and for his sharpness, clarity and piety.  The blessing that his Rabbinic teachers included for Joe’s continued personal advancement in learning and that he be a catalyst for the growth of the larger Jewish community, was prescient.

Joe obtained his Ph.D. in biochemistry from the Illinois Institute of Technology and completed a NIH post-doctoral fellowship in enzymology at Northwestern University under Professor Myron Bender.  Joe was a Distinguished Science Fellow and Director of Biochemistry and Cell Culture at Monsanto Company, where he discovered and studied key growth factors and enzymes and established critical large-scale animal cell culture processes required for the creation of modern biotechnology.  Due to his scientific expertise and knowledge, Joe was an invited speaker and chair at science conferences and symposia all over the world and a reviewer for NIH and NSF study sections.  He authored and co-authored over 140 publications in major scientific journals and books and held over 40 U.S. issued patents.  Joe was one of the first biotech leaders to forge collaborations with academic labs such as Harvard, setting an early example for how to streamline transferable and medically valuable research.  Joe’s discoveries and developed technologies enabled the founding of two biotech companies, Invitron Corporation and ISTO Technologies, where Joe held roles of President, Chairman and CEO.

Joe’s intellectual capability and harmonized scholarship in both Jewish studies and science, enabled him to approach challenging questions of Jewish law and ethics with exceptional depth, insight and creativity.  Thus, he was often consulted in complex areas of Talmud, Halacha/Jewish law and science from Rabbis in communities across the USA as well as in Israel.

Joe was generous with his broad and deep knowledge, and was a natural teacher with a gift for simplicity and clarity.  He taught throughout his life:  Early on in Hebrew Day schools and Yeshivot, and for over fifty years he provided classes at Young Israel and other venues on a wide range of Torah texts and topics, ranging from Tanach and Talmud to courses on Jewish medical ethics.  Joe was also an Adjunct Professor of Biochemistry at the University  of Missouri St. Louis and at Washington University, where he taught evening classes in biochemistry, enzymology and biotechnology.

In addition to his wide range of intellectual and professional pursuits, Joe was committed to the Jewish community of St. Louis, where he took on leadership roles and was honored with several awards over the years.  These community roles included: President of the Vaad Hoeir, President of the Central Agency of Jewish Education, President of Young Israel synagogue, board member of the H. F. Epstein Hebrew Academy, board member of the Jewish Federation, an officer of the Jewish Community Relations Council, an officer of the Jewish Community Centers Association, a member of the Holocaust Commission and a Governor-appointed member of the Missouri Health Facilities Review Committee.

Joe was a modest person who treated everyone he met, regardless of background or stature, with kindness and respect.  The principle of ‘Derech Eretz Kadma L’Torah’ was intrinsic to how Joe lived his life.  He had boundless curiosity and love for learning, a passionate commitment to justice and truth, and a deep belief in God, Zionism and the destiny of the Jewish people.  While many individuals achieve excellence in their work or in other singular pursuits, few are able to achieve the measure of excellence across the extensive areas of interest in which Joe engaged during his life.  Moreover, for many who were fortunate to cross his path, Joe served as an example of the rare individual who could effortlessly toggle between multiple, seemingly disparate worlds that he had integrated into a seamless, coherent unity.  Joe will be greatly missed by his family members, his community and the many who loved and respected him.  May his soul be bound in the bond of everlasting life.

Joe was the beloved husband of Charlotte Feder for 71 years; dear son of the late Morris and late Ruth Feder; dear Aba of Dr. Michele Feder-Nadoff, Dr. Dvorah (the late James Haugabook) Feder, Gavreal Feder and Rena Feder Shalem; dear Saba/Zaide of Malkah Nadoff, Havneh Feder-Haugabook, Ayala Feder-Haugabook, Matanya Draiman and Eliana Draiman; dear brother of the late Anna Lee (the late Jack) Schauder; dear uncle of Marlene Lancer, Elana (Bruce) Zisser, Ari (Michelle) Schauder, Dr. Aron (Tova) Buchman, Gila (Yossie) Rosenblum, Arie (Linda) Buchman and the late Aliza (Charles) Bennett.


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