In Memory of Rabbi Martin I. Hinchin
Rabbi Martin I. Hinchin was a forward-looking Rabbi at Temple B'nai Israel in Albany, Georgia beginning in 1946. I wrote about him in my book The New Reform Judaism.
May his memory be for a blessing.
Rabbi Martin Hinchin died peacefully on July 29, 2022 at the incredible age of 103. The child of Ukrainian immigrants, Rabbi Hinchin was born and raised in Philadelphia. He graduated from Yeshiva College in New York City in 1940. He was ordained as a Reform Rabbi in 1946 from Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati and received his Doctor of Divinity Degree in 1971 from Hebrew Union College, Jewish Institute of Religion.
Rabbi Hinchin led generations of worshippers across the country serving as student Rabbi in West Virginia and Ohio and a replacement Rabbi in Sioux City, Iowa during World War II. It was there that he met the first love of his life, Blossom Kalin. They married in 1944 and spent 44 wonderful years together, making homes across the South as he served Jewish congregations in Alabama and Georgia before finding a permanent home as head Rabbi at Congregation Gemiluth Chassodim in Alexandria, LA. As a pioneer and leader of the Reform Jewish Movement, Rabbi Hinchin fought tirelessly for inclusion, equality and tolerance across the South. He was the first Jewish president of several inter-faith organizations, served as the Grand Chaplain of the Louisiana Masonic Lodge and was a board member or leader to countless other organizations including The Red Cross, Salvation Army, Central Conference of American Rabbis, Southern Federation of Temple Youth and the National Association of Retired Reform Rabbis.
Even though he was an East Coaster by birth, he used to say that he “fell in love with the people of the South.” Along the way he met such historic and beloved Southern figures as a young Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Louisiana’s “singing governor” Jimmie Davis, and Huey Long’s “crazy” brother, former governor Earl K. Long who used to call him “Preacher.” He also proudly honored the United States by serving over 20 years in the Naval Reserve as Lt. Commander. Rabbi Hinchin was blessed to find the second love of his life, Carol Bach, when he retired to Memphis in 1988 after Blossom’s death. Together, he and Carol embraced retirement traveling and playing tennis or bridge, while also serving as the on-call Rabbi for Temple Israel in Memphis. He was most proud of his time serving on the Institutional Review Board of the Baptist Hospital System, ensuring the highest standards of ethics and caregiving to its patients. Retirement also brought unexpected opportunities such as purchasing his first pair of blue jeans and the chance to perform “Roll Out the Barrel” with Tony Orlando in Branson, MO.
Rabbi Hinchin left an indelible mark on communities across the South, regardless of race or religion, inspiring and uniting people around shared values and a good, clean (or not so clean) joke! His legacy to Judaism and the Reform Movement live on through his students and mentees. He leaves behind countless friends who will miss him dearly but will forever carry his teachings with them. But he will be missed most by his children: Phyllis Selber, KK and Van Weinberg and Susan and Butch Faber; grandchildren Amy and Bobby Pearce, Jill and Jason Handaly, Sandy and Tim Sturm, Leigh and Rob Abbay, Michael and Alexis Faber, Robert and Anne Faber, Carey and Rob Campbell. He had 16 great-grandchildren who he loved and adored. We would also like to thank his devoted care-givers who he loved like family. Funeral services will be held at 2:00 pm on Monday, August 1st in the Levy-Cooper Chapel at Temple Israel Cemetery, 1708 Hernando Road, Memphis, TN 38106. In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorial contributions be made to Temple Israel, 1376 East Massey Road, Memphis, TN 38120.