Published June 23, 2017
Rabbi Shay E. Mintz, a Jewish educator and spiritual leader who served as director of Hillel at UB for more than a decade, died June 3 in Jerusalem. He was 80.
Born in Tel Aviv to Jewish immigrants who had come to what was then Palestine in the 1920s, Yeshayahu Eliezer Mintz entered Jerusalem Rabbinical School in 1954. He left two years later to serve as a chaplain with the Israeli Defense Forces in the Sinai campaign, then returned to school and graduated in 1960.
He came to the U.S. in 1965 to become principal of the United Hebrew School in South Bend, Ind. He also lectured on Judaic studies at the University of Notre Dame.
Mintz came to Buffalo in 1970 to take a position as educational director at Temple Shaarey Zedek. He also assisted with Hebrew schools at Temple Beth El and Temple Sinai, and eventually brought teenagers from all three synagogues together by establishing the United Junior High School. He set up a curriculum that included arts and Shabbat retreats in camp settings, along with traditional studies.
In 1986, he became director of Hillel at UB, the center for Jewish student life in the Buffalo area, and continued to lead services for the High Holidays after retiring in 2000.
A few years ago Mintz published a book in Hebrew about his father, Binyamin, who was a close political ally of Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion. Binyamin Mintz became a member of the first Israeli parliament, the Knesset, and was deputy speaker of the Knesset from 1951-61. A translation of the book into English is underway.
Mintz and his wife, Lila, who died in 2015, also led numerous tour groups to Israel and spent several months every year in Jerusalem.
Burial was in Beit Shemesh, Israel, near Jerusalem. A memorial service in Buffalo will be announced at a later date.