Herbert Yarrish, 87, rabbi and stockbroker

Posted: September 19, 2007

Herbert M. Yarrish, 87, of Cherry Hill, rabbi emeritus of Temple Emmanuel in Cherry Hill and a retired stockbroker, died of heart failure Monday at Samaritan Hospice in Mount Holly.

In 1956, Rabbi Yarrish accepted a position as rabbi at Temple Emmanuel. Six years earlier, the temple had been established as the first Reform Congregation in Cherry Hill. In the early years, services were held in homes, schools and a rented social hall. The congregation moved to a new building on Cooper River Parkway in 1959.

Rabbi Yarrish performed thousands of weddings, bar mitzvahs and funerals, and provided guidance and counsel to his congregants, said his daughter Debby Siegrist. He especially enjoyed studying and sharing his knowledge of Judaism, she said, and believed in the literal translation of rabbi - meaning scholar or teacher.

He was active in Jewish and community organizations, including serving as past president of the Tri-County Board of Rabbis and serving on the New Jersey Citizens Committee on Children and Youth and the Camden County Human Relations Council.

In 1975, he retired as a rabbi and turned his hobby - following the stock market - into a career. He worked for several brokerage firms before retiring again at 77.

He still played the stock market, his daughter said, and enjoyed crossword puzzles, current events, singing off-key, good corned-beef sandwiches, and bowling and traveling with his wife, Ruth Yarrish.

A native of Boston, Rabbi Yarrish earned a bachelor's degree from Harvard University and worked as a bus boy, dog-walker, and tennis pro to pay his tuition. He earned a master's degree in Hebrew letters from Hebrew Union College in New York in 1949 and later earned a doctor of divinity degree there.

He ministered at a synagogue in Dallas before serving as an Air Force chaplain at Lackland Air Force Base during the Korean War. He then was rabbi at a synagogue in Flint, Mich.

He met the person he always called "the beautiful woman in a blue dress," who became his wife, while visiting the congregation of a rabbi friend in Erie. She was a widow with three young children. After they married in 1958, they had a daughter, Debby.

In addition to his wife and daughter, Rabbi Yarrish is survived by daughters Ginny Kupper and Sandra Hoffman; a son, Robert; four grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.

Services were private.

Contact staff writer Sally A. Downey at 215-854-2913 or sdowney@phillynews.com.

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