Former Las Vegas rabbi Firestone dies

LAUGHLIN – Rabbi Morris Firestone, who after being ordained in his late 60s served congregations in western Arizona, southeastern California and Southern Nevada, died Sunday in Fort Mohave, Ariz.

Firestone, 92, who served most recently as rabbi of Temple Beth Israel Ba Midbor in Laughlin, had undergone several hospitalizations during the past year.

Firestone was born Sept. 26, 1920, in Pittsfield, N.H. He received an undergraduate degree in music from Columbia University in New York and sought a career in music. Among his theatrical accomplishments was landing a role in “A Flag is Born,” a 1946 Broadway play promoting the creation of a Jewish state in Israel.

After college, Firestone’s resume included jobs as a vacuum cleaner salesman and an encyclopedia salesman in Los Angeles while he pursued a career in music. He was a U.S. Navy veteran of World War II. He retired in 1986 from a career as an electrician for Los Angeles County.

It was while working as an electrician that Firestone began to serve as a part-time cantor for several congregations in the San Fernando and San Gabriel valleys. Firestone completed rabbinical studies and was ordained when he was in his late 60s. He served congregations in Laughlin and, for about five years during the late ’80s and early ’90s, at Temple Emanuel in Las Vegas.

Firestone also served congregations in Lake Havasu City before joining Temple Beth Israel Ba Midbor (House of Israel in the Desert) in Laughlin. He also conducted services occasionally at Congregation Or Midbar (Light of the Desert), in Kingman, Ariz.

Services with military honors were held Wednesday at King David Memorial Chapel in Las Vegas. Firestone will be buried at Palm Valley View Cemetery alongside his wife of more than 57 years, Marcella, also a singer and a cantor, who died in 2008.

Survivors include four children, Rabbi Diane Firestone of Laughlin, Samuel Firestone of Sherman Oaks, Calif., Miriam Fogler of Arleta, Calf., and Rebecca Firestone of Los Angeles; brothers Paul Firestone and Jack Firestone; granddaughter Ann Fogler; son-in-law Peter Fogler; and daughter-in-law Susan Firestone.

In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the National Kidney Foundation or Temple Beth Israel Ba Midbor.

Arrangements were under the direction of King David Memorial Chapel, Las Vegas.

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