David S. Davidson, prominent judge and Reform leader, dies at 91

David S. Davidson, prominent judge and Reform leader, dies at 91

World War II veteran who was also involved in Maryland Democratic politics remembered as lion of social justice and ‘the most incredible mensch’

David S. Davidson (courtesy Melissa Ludwig)
David S. Davidson (courtesy Melissa Ludwig)

David S. Davidson, a prominent judge and leader in the Reform Jewish movement, has died.

He served as chair of the Reform movement’s Commission on Social Action and as a board member of the Union for Reform Judaism and the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism. He also was a founding member and past president of the Reform congregation Temple Emanuel in Kensington, Maryland.

Davidson died February 17 from lymphoma. He was 91.

The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism praised his accomplishments in the movement.

“So many of the resolutions of the Movement on issues of social justice bear his mark,” the organization said in a statement. “He had a unique talent — he had an extraordinary intellect, coupled with a deft touch, a way for using just the right words, and all in service of our shared commitment to creating a better world.”

A graduate of Yale Law School, Davidson was the former chief judge of the National Labor Relations Board and later became involved in Maryland Democratic politics, where he served as an adviser to Sen. Chris Van Hollen.

He also served as president of Mobile Med, an organization that provides medical services to low-income residents of Maryland’s Montgomery County.

Van Hollen lauded the late judge in a statement.

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate, Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., speaks at an election night party in Bethesda, Md., Tuesday, April 26, 2016. Van Hollen defeated Rep. Donna Edwards, D-Md., in the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

“David was a kind and gentle soul who lived a life of purpose and always brought a reservoir of wisdom and moral clarity to his many endeavors,” he said. “He put his keen sense of justice into action to strengthen our community and our country.”

Davidson, a Springfield, Massachusetts, native, served in the US Navy during World War II.

His first wife, Judge Rita Davidson, was the first woman to head a Maryland governor’s cabinet and the first ever appointed to the Maryland Court of Appeals. She died in 1984. His second wife, Dorothy Davidson, was a Maryland political strategist who helped engineer Van Hollen’s first Congressional victory in 2002. She died in 2008.

Both his wives and daughter, Minna Davidson, died of cancer.

Times of Israel correspondent Eric Cortellessa, a grandson, called him “the most incredible mensch.”

“He lived with an insatiable commitment to protecting the vulnerable, providing care and comfort to those in need, and improving the lives of others,” Cortellessa told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency in an email. “His ethos of humility and altruism embodied all that is good about the human spirit.”

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