In Loving Memory of Maxine Rudin Haberman

headshot of Maxine Haberman

Maxine Rudin Haberman, a cherished matriarch, devoted social worker, and beloved wife of WHC’s fourth Senior Rabbi Joshua Haberman, passed away peacefully in her Jerusalem home on June 20, 2024, at the age of 98. Her burial will take place on Friday at Har HaMinuchot in Jerusalem. 

Born in Cincinnati in 1925, Maxine was a beacon of kindness and strength throughout her life. She met her future husband, Rabbi Joshua Haberman, z”l, at the tender age of 16, and they were married in 1944. Their union spanned 73 years, a testament to their unwavering love and partnership. Together, they navigated the complexities of life, both in the public eye and in private, with grace and mutual respect. Rabbi Haberman often credited Maxine for his successes, mirroring what Rabbi Akiba said of his wife, “All that I am, I owe to her.” 

In 1969, the Habermans moved to Washington, D.C., where Maxine immersed herself in the community and life at Washington Hebrew Congregation, teaching, and leading with wisdom and compassion. Maxine’s deep commitment to her faith and community was evident in every aspect of her life. 

Once her youngest child had gone off to college, Maxine’s own journey of lifelong learning led her to Catholic University’s School of Social Work, where she earned her MSW. She worked as a geriatric social worker at the Hebrew Home of Greater Washington for more than a decade, providing care and comfort to many. Her empathy and professionalism left an indelible mark on those she served, and her colleagues admired her unwavering dedication and warmth. 

A passionate advocate for interfaith dialogue, Maxine was deeply involved in Catholic-Jewish relations for over 30 years. She hosted numerous scholars in her home, fostering understanding and mutual respect between communities.  

Maxine’s generosity knew no bounds. She supported numerous charities, everything from police and fire departments to those fighting homelessness and food insecurity. Her philanthropic spirit was evident in the countless checks her family discovered, written to various organizations, reflecting her desire to help those in need. 

Maxine and Rabbi Haberman maintained residences in both Washington, D.C., and Jerusalem, spending several months each year in the holy city after Rabbi Haberman’s retirement. Maxine learned Hebrew and embraced Israeli culture, further enriching her life and the lives of those around her. 

Maxine HabermanFriends and family alike recall Maxine’s inclusive and outgoing nature. She had a unique ability to make everyone feel welcome and valued, whether she was at a congregational event or a family gathering. Her optimism and sunny personality were infectious, and she had an uncanny way of making every moment count. Maxine’s immense patience and calming influence were a source of comfort to all who knew her. Rabbi Haberman was succeeded by Rabbi Joseph Weinberg, z”l, and members of the Weinberg family recalled Maxine as “an equal opportunity caregiver and listener,” “a reliable confidant and friend,” and “a mentor for mom in a lot of ways.”  

Maxine’s life was a testament to the values she held dear: love, kindness, generosity, and faith. Her memory will continue to be a blessing to all who were fortunate enough to know her. She is survived by her children, Deborah Perelmuter (Rabbi Mayer Perelmuter); Judith Forman (Rabbi Jeremiah Unterman), widow of Rabbi David Forman, z”l; Rabbi Daniel Haberman (Osna); and Michael Haberman (Martha). She was a loving grandmother to 15 grandchildren and 34 great-grandchildren. Her family remembers her as a beautiful woman, both inside and out, whose patience, charm, and kindness touched everyone she met, and countless friends will carry her spirit and teachings forward. 

In lieu of flowers, donations in Maxine’s memory can be made to the Haberman Institute for Jewish Studies, Leket Israel, Yad Sarah, or Washington Hebrew Congregation.  

Maxine Rudin Haberman’s legacy is a world made better by her presence and a family deeply grateful for the lessons she imparted and the love she shared. May her memory be a blessing.