Stanley J. Rabinowitz, the Henry Steele Commager Professor of Russian, Emeritus,  passed away in January 2024. A memorial service in his honor was held in Johnson Chapel on Jan. 25. In his 45 years of teaching at Amherst, he left an indelible mark on many students鈥 lives. Amherst magazine put out a call for recollections of Professor Rabinowitz and was flooded with responses. Please enjoy all 80-plus hilarious memories and touching 鈥淪tanecdotes鈥 we received in their (mostly*) unedited form.

*In a few cases, names and other details have been redacted to protect the privacy of individuals mentioned.


Class of 1974鈥1979

Mike Moran 鈥74:

Stan Rabinowitz epitomized the Amherst professor. I took a Dostoevsky in translation course with him his first year at the college. He was young, energetic, and in mastery of his material. More importantly, he had a preternatural gift for understanding his students. He somehow knew so many details of our lives. Some thirty years or so after our graduation, my wife and I were hosting a visit of our college-applying niece to Amherst. As we walked through the athletic complex, I was telling my niece that one of the greatest aspects of an Amherst education was the close relationships that students could form with faculty. We turned the corner and there was Stanley. He immediately exclaimed 鈥淢ike Moran! How are you doing? I assume you're still practicing law and living in Newton. Four children, right?鈥 After a little back and forth, he turned to my niece and said, 鈥淢ike Moran鈥攁s bright as they come, so he drank a little!鈥 To my thinking, Stan Rabinowitz is right next to Joe Epstein in the Pantheon of Amherst professors.

Stephen C. Farrand 鈥77:

Stanley Rabinowitz's teaching was a formative part of my education at Amherst. I want to talk about him as a language teacher and mentor.

I took second-semester Russian with Stanley in the spring of 1974, both his and my second term at Amherst. My fellow students from that time will remember that we used a draft of Professor Dan Davidson's textbook, which eventually became Russian: Stage One. Professor Davidson's draft was long on theory and short on practice; it also promoted the 鈥渙ne stem鈥 approach to learning Russian verbs, a theory first put forth by Roman Jakobson in 1948. The basic idea was that you learned only one verb stem, with a number of diacritical marks, to generate all the correct forms of a Russian verb, with their word stress shifts and stem changes.

Looking back after a career spanning 45 years as a language teacher myself,, I now realize that Stanley thought this approach pretty marginal for most Amherst students attempting to learn to speak Russian (in all fairness, my friend and classmate, Kevin Moss '77, found it worked for him. Kevin went on to become chair of the Russian Department at Middlebury). Stanley however, was too good a colleague to rail at the textbook; instead he slipped in some conventional pattern drills and dialogues so that we both heard and saw the stem changes that occur. But Stanley also was no poker player and often his face and word choices hinted at his dissatisfaction.

I felt I struggled with Russian that semester. And no wonder鈥擨 was foolish enough to be taking intensive ancient Greek and my first advanced Latin course at the same time. I was drowning in morphology. But Stanley met with me during his office hours and was very supportive, praising my first efforts to string Russian sentences together correctly. I think he knew then that I wasn't going to major in Russian, but of course that didn't matter.

It came as a great surprise to me several years later when I learned from Stanley about his own highly stressful direct experience of Soviet life as a graduate student in Leningrad. I found it hard to understand how he could be such an enthusiastic proponent of the study of a culture of which he had such unhappy memories. But I think it does explain Stanley's interest in Russian, as opposed to Soviet, language, culture and life.

袦懈褉 褋胁械褌谢褘泄 锌褉邪褏褍 械谐芯.

Chip Howard 鈥77:

My first week at Amherst coincided with Stanley鈥檚 first week teaching at Amherst. I was in the first-year Russian class he taught in 1973. I remember vividly his grand entrance into the class, striding rapidly, talking all the way, and periodically wiping or flipping his black hair back off his face. At first, I thought he was one of the students due to his youthful appearance and energy, but once he started talking in Russian, I realized he was the professor. 

Languages is not my forte, but Stanley made learning great fun. He was always positive, supportive, encouraging, and so, so funny! I went on to take more language classes with him as well as a couple of literature classes. He became my advisor as we together crafted a Russian Studies major to pursue. This was a journey I never would have considered were it not for Stanley鈥檚 involvement and guidance.

When I think of my experience at Amherst, I realize that my time spent learning from Stanley is one of the strongest and brightest takeaways. He helped me find myself and create a learning path at Amherst. 

After I graduated, he was so kind to stay in touch, periodically sending me handwritten notes inquiring about career and family. Over the decades after graduation, I was delighted to see that Stanley had impacted thousands more lives and that he received recognition from his peers and the administration for his scholarly and professorial brilliance.  I was very fortunate to have taken that Russian 1 class!

Stanley K. Ross 鈥77:

Dr. Rabinowitz was a seriously ebullient teacher and presence in the classroom. He taught not only Russian, but Russia with insights to understanding the Russian soul鈥攈ow their culture developed under the many and continuing years of autocracy. He even copied (probably illegally even in 1975) the novel 鈥淥blomov鈥 for the class (we each received our copy bound in a black 3 ring binder), at the time hardly available in English.

This story stands out for it remains very relevant today though I can not do it the justice it deserves in the way Stanley told it.

When he was a grad student studying in Moscow (the 1960s鈥攖he height of the Cold War), his parents鈥擱ussian emigres themselves鈥攚anted to ensure he was being treated well during his sojourn in the Soviet Union. So being the good New York Jewish parents they were, they arranged for a couple who were friends of the family to travel to Moscow to check up on Stanley.

Once settled in their KGB surveilled Intourist hotel in Moskva, they contacted Stanley and arranged for him to come to their room at their hotel. When he arrived he took the elevator to their floor.

Coming out of the elevator, Stanley went to the babushka's (the Russian word for grandmother as these denizens of Soviet virtue were called (in the Soviet Union, all contact with foreigners was strictly proscribed) desk by the elevator, confirmed who he had come to see and signed himself in, all of course in Russian. We need to remember Stanley spoke Russian with a slight emigre accent and had a Jewish last name. During this interaction, she glared at him fiercely.

Once he knocked on the door, and his parents' friends invited him into the room, the first question asked of him was, 鈥淗ow do you like it here鈥?

Stanley then spoke to every lamp shade, light bulb and wall decoration in the room confirming how much he enjoyed the experience of Moskva and the wonderful Soviet Union.

Once they had arranged to meet him for a meal later that day, Stanley left the room and signed out with the babushka. She glared at him even more fiercely on his way out.

Upon reaching the lobby, as he stepped out of the elevator Stanley (who was quite a big person) was joined by 2 very large men on either side. He made the point in his telling that each was bigger than him. They held him gently but firmly by the elbows and walked him through the lobby towards the hotel's main exit in full view of all. His queries of 鈥渟hto?鈥 (鈥渨hat?鈥) met no reply.

Once outside, they turned him towards a little door in the hotel's foundation beside the main entrance steps with its own stone steps leading down into a small room below sidewalk level (鈥淚 never noticed those doors before.鈥). There was a small wooden table in the center of the room with a single bare light bulb hanging from the ceiling. The table had a couple of beat up old wooden chairs.

Once inside they turned on him and demanded 鈥渄okumentye鈥. He queried back 鈥渨hat do you mean documentye鈥. They demanded his documents more forcefully in reply.

He realized then they wanted his ID. His U.S. passport was in his jacket's outer chest pocket. As he pulled his U.S. passport out of his pocket, he stated the ruddy vodka assisted complexion on the faces of his 2 KGB escorts drained away at the same rate as the passport appeared.

They grabbed the passport, moved to a corner of the room and began a rather frantic whispered conversation between them.

Finished, they came over to him, returned the passport and began to fawn over him in their attempt to cover their serious breach of internal Soviet protocol (foreigners were never ever to be exposed to how the Soviets normally treated their own citizens).

They brushed the lint off Stanley's overcoat and jacket trying to make a joke of what happened.

They then escorted him without any physical contact from the small initial interrogation room. Being most solicitous while they walked him to the head of the hotel's long taxi queue. Once there, they held the taxi's door for him telling the taxi driver to take Stanley wherever he wanted to go without charge (thus (re?)confirming the taxi drivers outside the Intourist hotels in the Soviet Union were all employees of the KGB).

And of course neither wanted to be posted as a prison administrator in the more northern reaches of Siberia.

If the above reads a bit like the farce it was, those who have seen Ianoucci's film 鈥淭he Death of Stalin鈥 will understand how close to reality that film can be viewed.

And, of course, had Stanley not had on him his U.S. passport what would have transpired could not have been farce.

A marvelous person, a wonderful teacher and collector of samovars. One of the 3 professors at Amherst that made my experience memorable.

Julie de Sherbinin 鈥77:

Our Rabinowitz

When I transferred to 麻豆国产AV from Hampshire in 1974, Stanley sent me a card. It read (in part and in Russian): 鈥淚鈥檝e always considered you one of ours.鈥 Needless to say, my heart soared. Countless students adored Stanley; many of us enjoyed a life-long relationship with him. His prodigious recall of the words we spoke and things we did made each one of us feel special. But the truth is that he was never mine or theirs, his or hers. He was always ours.

This reminds me of a marvelous Stanley story鈥攈ere, of course, stripped of its full impact without the characteristic facial expressiveness, eye rolls, tonal range and pacing of the master storyteller. The appreciative listener was assumed to know two things: 1) Russians regularly speak in terms of 鈥渙urs鈥 and 鈥測ours鈥 (broad term for the West); 2) the surname Rabinowitz translates to Rabinovich, a stock character in hilarious Jewish jokes of the Soviet period (as in, 鈥淩abinovich, why weren鈥檛 you at the last Party meeting?鈥濃斺滻f I鈥檇 known it was the last, I would have brought the whole family!鈥)

So on one of his numerous visits to the Soviet Union, Stanley was detained by the police鈥攁rguably an honest mistake on their part given his excellent Russian. Nothing he could say would convince them that they got the wrong guy. Naturally, they asked for his 鈥渄ocuments.鈥 When he pulled out an American passport, the lead officer looked at it long and hard before ruefully concluding. 鈥淗e鈥檚 not our Rabinovich!

Stanley鈥擳hank you for the gifts you bestowed so generously on generations of Amherst students. We are so infinitely grateful that you were our Rabinowitz.

Thomas M. Cohen 鈥79:

At the celebration of his fifty years at Amherst in Brooklyn in October, Stanley was characteristically uncomfortable with all the attention being focused on him. He didn鈥檛 want to talk about his many books, the Russian Center that he founded, the honors that he鈥檇 received. He turned the attention away from himself and instead focused on his students, as he always did. 

Stanley read passages from letters that he鈥檇 received from alumni over the last fifty years. Some came from nearby, others from Russia, from the slopes of Everest, and from everywhere in between. A common theme: alumni who hadn鈥檛 read Anna Karenina when Stanley assigned it never stopped feeling guilty about it and felt an irresistible urge to let him know when they finally got around to it. One student had carried a passage in his head for twenty or thirty years and finally asked Stanley if he remembered the book that it came from (of course he did). That鈥檚 the kind of love that Stanley inspired. At the Brooklyn celebration, he made it clear that his teaching and his students had filled him with joy. That night, his generosity as a teacher showed itself in the ongoing ties that he had with his students. He鈥檇 become part of our lives and the lives of our families. He taught us much more than literature, art, and the beauty of ideas. With his big heart, he touched every part of our lives.

Blair Kamin 鈥79:

Foolishly, I never took Stanley during my years at Amherst (everybody makes mistakes), but over time, he became one of my favorite professors; indeed, no trip to the College was complete without a Rabinowitz encounter, though these meetings tended to be serendipitous, a reflection of Amherst鈥檚 intimate scale. I鈥檇 often run into Stanley at the Black Sheep on Main Street, where, at breakfast, he鈥檇 regale me with stories of his latest scholarly project鈥攐r how my son Will 鈥15 (who WAS smart enough to take Stanley) rebelliously sat in the back row and wore his baseball cap backwards during class. I also remember bumping into Stanley on the steps of Frost as I was about to give an architecture tour of Johnson Chapel, the main quad and the War Memorial. He didn鈥檛 just join the tour; he enlivened it with irreverent Jewish humor鈥攖he phrase 鈥淏鈥檔ai Chapel鈥 comes to mind. Only Stanley could get away with that. I will always remember his quick wit, brilliant mind, warm presence and generosity of spirit. He was a mensch and a model professor who made learning鈥攁nd living鈥攁 joyous adventure.

Eric Naiman 鈥79:

In my first semester taking Russian at Amherst, Jane Taubman taught me that this wonderful language would forgive me for all the offenses I would commit against it. Stanley then taught me that although the language might forgive my trespasses, it wouldn't forget them, which meant that whatever you read, you always had to be on your guard鈥攁 model for close reading.

Stanley was nervous about all technology, but with some help he mastered ZOOM well enough to guest lecture in my Tolstoy course during the pandemic. He had his choice of days and chose the one where we would be discussing Anna鈥檚 train ride at the start of the novel. No charisma was lost in online transmission. At one point, Stanley asked the Berkeley students, who had never encountered anything like his teaching style, for their opinion about the depiction of Anna鈥檚 feelings in the overheated railroad car. One of the brightest, who was reading Tolstoy in the original after just a year of intensive language study, ventured: 鈥淚鈥檓 sorry, professor, but I think this passage is about sex.鈥 鈥淥f course, it is about sex!鈥 Stanley exclaimed鈥攆ull volume, half-chortle, half-cackle鈥攁nd he launched into a mini-lecture: 鈥淛oseph, you must never, ever apologize for anything you say in class.鈥 On their evaluations several students wrote that they had especially liked 鈥渢he professor with the New York accent.鈥 A week after graduation, Joseph entered an Orthodox monastery. Stanley would always ask about him afterwards, but he didn鈥檛 claim credit for that career choice.


Class of 1980鈥1989

Kate Akos 鈥80:

I met Stanley during my freshman year, when I was concertmaster of the Amherst-Mt. Holyoke Orchestra. Stanley was a huge music fan and quite possibly spent almost as much time attending performances in Buckley Recital Hall as he did teaching, mentoring, writing and kibitzing extensively with faculty, students, and alumni. We had many interactions even before I enrolled in three of his ever-popular Russian Literature courses, which were always enjoyable, full of laughter and his insights, and among the highlights of my Amherst education. I've saved all of the papers I wrote for him, and I can still hear his voice as I re-read his prescient and enthusiastic comments.

I last saw Stanley at Lew Spratlan's Memorial Service in Amherst in May 2023. As I approached the church, Stanley was holding court (as usual!) shouted, 鈥淎kos's daughter!鈥 and embraced me in an enormous bear hug. 鈥淵ou're the reason I raced back to Amherst from my condo in Boston,鈥 and we reminisced at the reception even as he was suffering from a cold.

Stanley's infectious laughter, love of literature and music, and his voracious lust for life will remain with me always.

Kay Halpern 鈥80:

I first met Stanley Rabinowitz in 1974, at the beginning of his Amherst career, and of mine as a student. I was a junior at Amherst Regional High taking Russian classes at Amherst, and after experiencing a class with Stanley I was hooked. He became my professor, mentor, friend. Over the years, he became part of my extended family in Amherst. He was the only person, other than my father, to endearingly call me by my first and middle name, Kay Lasta. Every time I returned to visit my parents and sisters, I always looked forward to my visits with him. Fourteen years later, when my husband and I were married, he was at our wedding.

Of all his many passionate, fun, humorous, spontaneous, and always insightful lectures, and our countless lunches at the Black Sheep caf茅 after graduation鈥攚here he always remembered every detail of my life, and never failed to ask after each of my parents and sisters by name鈥擨 remember, to paraphrase a Pushkin poem, one remarkable moment. It was a snowy winter day and I was late for class. I burst into the classroom, flushed and a little embarrassed, expecting my professor to berate me in front of my peers in his good-natured way. Surely, he was about to exclaim, Kay Lasta Halpern! You鈥檙e late! Sit!

Instead, he looked at me, eyes lit with wonder, and said, You have snowflakes on your eyelashes. They鈥檙e so beautiful. Speechless, I dropped into a chair, my heart warmed for the rest of the day and long after that.

Leslie Litzky 鈥80:

I was a Russian Language/ Literature major (Class of 1980) and Stanley remained a lifelong friend. In that fall semester 1976, I was in a very small sized seminar on Russian Language. I was, however, blown away when I walked into Russian 22 that spring and saw the crowd. Who knew there were so many lovers of Russian literature out there among my classmates? But of course they were there for Stanley himself鈥攁s an educator and as a performer. Fast forward to this past October 2023 -when Stanley was finally prevailed upon to allow a celebration of his 50 years of teaching at Amherst. Stanley was undimmed鈥攁nd with the makeshift lectern that he insisted upon鈥攈e proceeded with a vintage Stanley discourse. My message to all those students who ever wrote Stanley a postcard, letter, or email is that I am pretty sure that he kept them all.  He had curated a set to read aloud鈥攁ll from former students writing to say that they had finally gotten around to reading a book or two on that extensive Russian 22 reading list鈥攅ither on a vacation or maybe even in retirement. At that event, I came to the very belated realization that most of his students had at most read one book on that list while taking the course. We had a good laugh afterwards at my freshman naivete and seriousness of purpose鈥斺淲ho knew the required reading list wasn鈥檛 actually required?鈥 But the impact that he made on generations of students was inescapable and the great affection for him as deep and genuine as his was for them. That evening lulled me into a false sense of reassurance that he would be around for many years to come. In some ways he always is and will be.

Bob Saul 鈥80:

It was spring, 1977, and I was a First Year enrolled in the famous Rabinowitz Russian Literature course. I was heading to track practice with several of my teammates. We were walking down the sidewalk (now known as Morgan Way) next to Memorial Hill and through the parking lot between the gym and what is now the Admission Office. Unbeknownst to me, Professor Rabinowitz's office looked down on this scene from his office above. The day was warm, and his window was open. When I say that he yelled down from above, everyone can hear the Brooklyn accent. 鈥淩ober Southey Saul, come up here this instant!鈥 Of course he knew my middle name, and now my teammates knew it too! In 鈥渢his instant,鈥 I took the steps two at a time up to his office on the second floor. (This office would later be my wife's office Katie Fretwell '81 during her 15-year stint as Director and Dean of Admission, but to me, it was always Stanley's office first.). He directed me to sit next to him. I did. He showed me the paper I had recently handed in. I saw the C- scrawled in red at the top, but more disturbing, was the volume of red ink. 鈥淩obert, you have a problem with PASSIVE verbs.鈥 Clearly, this was about to end. 鈥淚 want you to fix this, then hand it in again.鈥 

A week later I handed the revised paper back to him after class. As you may recall, Stanley lectured from a stage/podium. I remember handing the tissue-like corrasable pages up to him as he stood on the podium. 鈥淲ell, we'll see,鈥 he said from on high. He smile-smirked either amused at his success or bemused at my impending failure. 

A week later, I stood in the first-floor corridor in Stearns. I'd been on the hallway phone (yes, a phone in the hallway) with my mom. Stanley had come up behind me and when I hung up, he said, 鈥淐ongratulations Robert Southey Saul,' and handed me my revised paper with an A/A- marked at the top. He also held a bottle of champagne. We drank it together on that little slope in front of Stearns that looks out on the Quad. It doesn't take much imagination to hear that Rabinowitz laughter spreading out over the green grass and echoing off Johnson Chapel.

David Shengold 鈥81:

As a Russian major who entered the field and later taught  Russian at Mount Holyoke and Williams, I have way too many Stanley anecdotes from which to choose! My first course with him, a Chekhov seminar in Russian Sophomore year, demonstrated his flair, humor and thorough preparation. Yet鈥攁lways one to play the 鈥榞efilte fish out of water鈥 card about being a Brooklyn Jew somehow displaced in WASPy Amherst鈥 he always at least claimed that, though he knew how to translate Chekhov鈥檚 bird names, he had no idea what the birds actually looked like! He got tenure at the end of that semester  and we鈥 Eric Naiman, Randy Meiklejohn, Kay Halpern, Leslie Litzky and I鈥 gave him a Birders鈥 Guide as a gift and he was very touched and amused. Later that day I ran into him on Boltwood Walk and- still rather formal- congratulated him, saying how happy he must be. Never one to miss a set-up, Stanley deadpanned, 鈥淎ctually, tenure is a slower joy- like cancer.鈥

Also, we thought up a verb, stanlet鈥/postanlet鈥 + Accusative case: meaning 鈥渢o find an assigned book on a desk in Frost and leave the student a note indicating that you saw how far s/he had read.鈥

Sherri Wasserman Goodman 鈥81:

I fell in love with Russian literature through Professor Rabinowitz's Russian lit class鈥攈e made all the Russian greats come alive and gave me cultural context for my later work in the former Soviet Union and Russia. He greeted me with a giant hug at every reunion, never missing a chance to 鈥渉ang鈥 with the Class of '81 which included many talented Russiophiles including Andy Kuchins. He also fondly referred to my 6'4鈥 brother, David Wasserman '89, as Sherri's little brother!

Amy Stevenson 鈥81:

My children, Elizabeth T. Kneeland 鈥10 and George Tepe 鈥14 continue to be amused by Stanley鈥檚 pronouncement at Elizabeth鈥檚 tent party: 鈥淎my Louise, when you came here from Texas, you were a bit of a hillbilly!鈥 

Monty Cleworth 鈥82:

I will join a chorus of his students who marveled at his ability to recite the city, high school and prominent independent bookstore of each of those students.

鈥淢onty Cleworth! Denver, Colorado. You went to East High School. Did you buy your books at the Tattered Cover?!鈥

Now how did he know/remember/keep track of鈥ll of that?!?!

I wasn鈥檛 one of his better students. But he was one of my very best teachers. I wrote a paper on The Petty Demon by Sologub which he (and I) thought was thoroughly mediocre. But he read it with great interest, judging from the detailed comments he made. He really made me want to be a better reader and writer.

Russian literature became a lifelong joy for me. I thought of him last year when I read George Saunders鈥 鈥淎 Swim in a Pond in the Rain鈥 about the Russian short story class that Saunders teaches at Syracuse. I was deeply saddened to hear of his death. He took a lowly economics major and brought him an appreciation for the greatest body of fiction ever created: Russian literature. That appreciation changed my life.

Conan Deady 鈥83:

My wife and I were with our daughter in Amherst on the first day of her freshman year in 2014. As we were waiting on the sidewalk for a table at the Lone Wolf, I saw Stanley walking up Main Street toward us. He was instantly recognizable, as but for some gradually graying hair, he never seemed to change very much. Expecting that he might remember me, I told my wife and daughter to watch what was about to happen.

Stanley walked up to us, looked at me briefly and said, 鈥淵ou look a lot like Conan Deady from Springfield, Massachusetts, but you couldn鈥檛 be.鈥 Of course, he knew that I was, and what followed was a highly amusing conversation in which he explained to my wide-eyed daughter that he was the only person at 麻豆国产AV who would remember her father largely because I had been an 鈥渁nti-intellectual mess鈥 while I was in college and was therefore completely forgettable to most.

He said this with a twinkle and a half-smile and I knew that he was trying to amuse and entertain my daughter, yet I also knew that there was an element of truth in his words. I might quibble with the 鈥渁nti-intellectual鈥 part, but certainly not with the 鈥渕ess鈥 description.

Despite some of the more questionable lifestyle choices that I made in college, I did manage to be excited from time to time by learning, and never more so than in Stanley鈥檚 Russian literature courses, which ultimately inspired me to write a thesis on Dostoevsky. If we grade a professor on their ability to generate enthusiasm for a subject that lasts a lifetime and to create classroom memories that remain vivid after several decades, then Stanley gets an A+ from me.

Diana Howard 鈥83:

Stanley Rabinowitz made everybody feel seen. He had an infectious charm, and infinite passion for teaching. I treasure not a particular recollection, as much as a pattern of recollections, all hallmarked by a bright eyed, easy smile, warm greeting, and profound sincerity. From the first moment he surprised me by calling me by my name, to every exciting class, a few serendipitous encounters in New York, and ultimately the opportunity to introduce him to my better half after a lecture, he will always be the best part of 麻豆国产AV for me.

Daniel Kaufman 鈥83:

I fondly recall lunch with Stanley in Chicago, when we were dismayed because Dana, my daughter, did not seem enthralled with the idea of applying to Amherst. But Stanley hatched a plan. He said bring her to his class in the Red Room, where he will be discussing The Double. Soon Dana and I were cramming to finish The Double. That visit with Stanley changed Dana鈥檚 future. She became a Russian (and music) major at Amherst and Stanley continued to provide support, even hosting a Russian Center reception (samovars and all) when her music/Russian thesis was staged at Amherst. Imagine Stanley鈥檚 face when we showed up at the reception with 鈥渢oo many鈥 family members鈥攎any more than he was expecting. But there would be enough food at the reception after all, and Stanley鈥檚 impact on Dana鈥檚 and our lives has not run out either.

Thomas Twombly 鈥83:

In the spring of 2014, when my daughter, Kelly (class of 2018, and now working for the Amherst Endowment) had been admitted, but hadn鈥檛 yet committed, we flew her up to spend a few days on campus to get a better feel for the place. She was excited at the prospect of sitting in on classes but overwhelmed at the breadth of choice and the lack of time to see everything she wanted to see. So, she brought a long list of options to me, and the one emphatic recommendation I made was for her to go to Stanley鈥檚 class. 鈥淏ut鈥 I warned her, 鈥渂e prepared to be called out, because he鈥檒l know instantly that you鈥檙e not one of his students, and he鈥檒l demand that you identify yourself and tell him where you鈥檙e from and why you鈥檙e there.鈥 I also told her that he had a photographic memory that would blow her mind.

She didn鈥檛 really believe me. So, yeah, she went to his class, and yeah, he did exactly as I had told her he would. And when she stood up and said, 鈥淚鈥檓 Kelly Twombly, from Austin Texas, and I鈥檝e recently been admitted鈥︹ he instantly cut her off and demanded, 鈥渁re you Thomas鈥檚 daughter, or Sarah鈥檚 daughter?鈥 (my sister, from the class of 鈥84) 鈥渁nd how is your grandfather, Bob?鈥 [AUTHOR NOTE: ROBERT TWOMBLY 鈥57] (In the early 80鈥檚 Stanley had been offered the Deanship of the Slavic Languages Department at the University of Texas, and on his trip to Austin to explore the possibility, he and my father, who taught English at UT for 41 years, had had lunch together.) Then Stanley demanded,鈥 if you haven鈥檛 yet decided to come here, what are your other choices?鈥 And when Kelly told him she was also considering the University of Texas Plan II Honors Program, he scoffed loudly and said 鈥淭hat鈥檚 not a choice. It's not even close!鈥 (He was somewhat more equivocal the following year when my sister鈥檚 daughter, Jordan, who was then admitted and was trying to decide between Amherst and Cornell, had a similar experience when she attended his class with Kelly.)

Kelly took a number of classes from Stanley. She still laughs, as do I, when she recalls that he once told her she was neurotic. Like many of his students, she had stayed in close touch with him, and they were scheduled to have lunch together early next month. She was heartbroken when she sent me the news of his death on Tuesday morning. On Wednesday she told me that she and Brigham Snow, John鈥檚 son, and her Amherst classmate, are going to drink vodka and read Crime and Punishment together this weekend. She drove up from Boston to attend the service yesterday with a request from me to represent all the Twomblys he had touched over the years. Every single one of us is much the richer for it.

Th茅r猫se M. Fafard 鈥84:

I was saddened to hear that Stanley Rabinowitz had passed. He shaped my Amherst experience more than any other professor! One of my very first courses at Amherst was an ILS (Introduction to Liberal Arts Studies) called The Heroic Mode. It was taught by two professors: Joseph Epstein and Stanley Rabinowitz. We read and enthusiastically discussed tomes like War and Peace, Crime and Punishment, and The Red and the Black. The juxtaposition, even stylistically between Professor Epstein and Professor Rabinowitz could not have been more stark. It made for raucous debates. I fell in love with Russian Literature from that course and took several more classes with Professor Rabinowitz. His passion for teaching, for engaging his students, and for great literature were infectious! My memories of his courses are some of my most precious Amherst memories! He knew my full name and what town I鈥檇 grown up in on my very first day of class! Even twenty five years later when I attended a reunion and sat in on one of his lectures, he remembered who I was; his encyclopedic memory was just incredible. He will be missed. 

Ben Spier 鈥84:

Stanley was my freshman-year adviser and inspired me to choose Russian as my major. I had the good fortune of being with him at the Hoxton Hotel in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, last October when the conversation turned to the college's recent decision to drop legacy admissions. Stanley had this to say: 鈥淗ere's my opinion on legacy students. They're not as good as their parents were鈥攖hey're better.鈥

P.S. I was a legacy student.

Amy Sargent Swank 鈥84:

I took 2 semesters of Russian Literature with Professor Rabinowitz. My favorite story (among many others) was this (and for clarity, my first鈥攁nd rarely used鈥攏ame is Dorothea, which is what he used to call me).

I wrote a paper on Crime and Punishment and the first sentence of the paper began like this: 鈥淭he multifarious schisms of Raskolnikov...鈥 Professor Rabinowitz circled the entire first sentence and wrote 鈥淒rop the thesaurus, Dorothea.鈥

I never forgot that or the many things he taught me about writing, Gogol (so much Gogol!) and life. He was one of my very favorite professors. 

Benigno Trigo 鈥84:

Stanley J. Rabinowitz: An Appreciation (1.24.24)

I just learned of the passing, last weekend, of Professor Stanley J. Rabinowitz (1945-2024), the Henry Steele Commager Professor of Russian at 麻豆国产AV.

Stanley was an impressive professor who delivered commanding lectures. He was up there with Professors George Kateb, Austin Sarat, Benjamin DeMott, and William Kennick. During my time at Amherst, the first three (Rabinowitz, Kateb, and Sarat) were the rock stars of the Red Room in Converse Hall, the only room big enough to accommodate all of their 鈥渇ans.鈥 

Stanley Rabinowitz had a prodigious memory. He delivered memorable lectures on the great Russian novelists of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. He was also the only professor who called me by my full name and pronounced my given name with a hard occlusive 鈥済,鈥 as it should be said. Not many people in the mainland United States, then, or since then, have managed this admittedly difficult feat.

Stanley was the single most important professor at Amherst for me. He led me to the Academic life. I remember a conversation about graduate school. It was Wintertime and we were walking past Robert Frost Library, going up the hill, towards Johnson Chapel. I shared with him my doubts about having anything to say that would justify going to graduate school. He told me a short version of his life story: his humble background in Brooklyn, and his degrees from Harvard. 鈥淚f I can do it, so can you,鈥 he said. No professor at Amherst had shared a personal story like that with me. It made me dare to apply to graduate school two years later.

When I heard about Stanley鈥檚 passing, I thought about him as part of a group of male professors at Amherst who had a lasting impact on the way I came to think about masculinity.

I remember a conversation about Thomas Hobbes in Professor Kateb鈥檚 office, where I mentioned I liked the Leviathan (an overwhelming and powerful political metaphor that could have been also a figure for masculinity). Professor Kateb gently tried to steer me away from this political philosophy. Professor Sarat鈥檚 energy and quirky sayings, 鈥渂est x since sliced bread,鈥 redefined what it was to show excitement about ideas, something that went against the proverbial man who speaks softly and carries a big stick. Professor DeMott made pronouncements that assigned different values to cultural icons: 鈥淏ruce Springsteen is a great American poet.鈥 He made me re-think my cultural heroes. Professor Kennick brought to class his wound-up tin toys to talk about the mechanical philosophy of Descartes. Could a man tap into his inner child? And Stanley, assigned queer novels, like Andrei Bely鈥檚 Petersburg, which took me far beyond the limits of what I had come to think of as the literary patriarchs of World Literature.

These professors were all very different kinds of teachers. And I learned something important from every one of them. They were also very different examples of masculinity. Of all of them, Stanley was the only one who dared to be vulnerable in the classroom.

In an interview from 2019, Stanley said that he tried to show his students that he was 鈥渁vailable鈥 and 鈥渁ccessible鈥 to them: 鈥渢hat they can come and talk to me without feeling embarrassed or humiliated.鈥 That was certainly the way I felt around Stanley. And it was thanks to his open disposition that I went on to a career teaching literature. He taught me not to be afraid of bringing my vulnerable humanity into the classroom. I will miss him dearly.

Claudia Kalb 鈥85:

Several decades back, Stanley Rabinowitz鈥檚 fervor for his subject burrowed into my brain. My Russian lit books traveled with me everywhere after graduation, from apartments in Boston and New York City to the home I now live in with my family near Washington, D.C. My memories have fused into a feeling鈥攍ess anecdotal, more nuanced. I remember sitting in the tiered seats, looking down at this animated professor who seemed to inhabit his writers鈥擥ogol, Turgenev, Tolstoy, Nabokov. His passion became mine. The literary hijinks, the tortured characters, the ethical dilemmas. The depths of everything. The soulfulness of it all. As a teacher, Professor Rabinowitz ignited my mind. As a person, he made me feel valued. Approachable and authentic, he supported my efforts as a thinker and writer at a time when I needed that most. Thank you, Stanley Rabinowitz. For the learning, the laughing, and the literary love.

Wendy Saltman Sullivan 鈥85:

One day, I was on a bus talking to my seatmate (who I didn鈥檛 know) about our kids. She told me 2 of her 3 sons went to a small college in New England鈥擨 pressed and of course it was Amherst. I told her I also went to Amherst (although long before her sons). She said her boys were Biology majors but their very favorite teacher was (and here I interrupted her to suggest it was Stanley Rabinowitz) and of course I was right. What a coincidence! Then I emailed Stanley (this was 30 years after I had graduated) to tell him the story. He said he not only remembered me, but also knew exactly who I had been talking to on the bus.

In the course of my conversation with this mother, I told her my own Stanley story. One day, I was reading Crime and Punishment in Frost. I might have accidentally fallen asleep and he found me with the book on my face. I was mortified. I wanted to make an appointment to come see him so I could convince him that it was actually my second time through the book (which it was) so I called and instead of telling me what time I should come to his office, he told me what time I should leave my dorm to get there.

Stanley Rabinowitz had a profound impact on so many people. He lit up his subject to make it accessible to all. And he knew his students like no one else I鈥檝e ever met.

John Barry 鈥86:

I was sleepwalking though orientation in 1982, following the current that would lead me to a generic liberal arts degree when suddenly out of nowhere a large imposing presence cornered me in the hallway. 鈥淛ohn Barry!鈥 I was a stranger in this town. How the hell did this guy know who I was. He told me: he had been a graduate student twelve years earlier in what was then Leningrad and had run into my father鈥攚ho was a foreign service officer鈥攁t a wine and cheese party in the American consulate. I was ten years old at the time. How he was able to attach the name to the face I had no idea. I was a somewhat grubby 19-year-old punk rocker with straggly hair who had no idea what I was doing up here. My father had no recollection of him either. But that was my introduction to the chair of the Russian department, his photographic memory, and his relentless drive to recruit. Within a month I was en route to a major in Russian Literature. I'm not going to say it was a logical choice careerwise鈥擨 am a union organizer now鈥攂ut it made me who I am. Isn't that what liberal arts is supposed to be about? And the kick in that direction came directly from Stanley Rabinowitz, breaker of the mold that made him. 

Joanie Brewster 鈥86:

Of course I have two and couldn't decide which to send:

  • It was the night before classes started in the fall of 1982 and I was attending the faculty-freshman dinner in Valentine. I sat at a table of strangers, and the faculty member who joined our table was Professor Rabinowitz. He proceeded to go around the table and state each persons full name, home town and high school. When he got to me, he then not only stated my 鈥渟tats鈥, but then added the full details on my sister (E2 Brewster, FKA Elise Brewster, Class of 1984). E2 and I went to different high schools, which of course Professor Rabinowitz knew and stated in his stats: 鈥淚 believe you have a sister.... who went to.... instead of your high school, do you want to talk about that?鈥 At that point I seriously questioned my decision to go to Amherst as I felt completely overwhelmed. Thankfully I stuck it out, and thoroughly enjoyed taking Russian Lit with Professor Rabinowitz later in my Amherst career.
  • My sister (E2 Brewster, FKA Elise Brewster, Class of 1984) and I were driving her bright blue convertible Volkswagen beetle from Boston to Tiverton, RI, on what I think was an early summer day around 1985. We stopped in Cambridge (for what reason I cannot recall at all), and were getting back into the car we had parked on the street when suddenly we heard a shout 鈥渢he sisters Brewster!鈥 It was none other than Professor Rabinowitz, who of course knew our names and came quickly over to us to regale us with another of his hilarious stories. He was so incredible the way he remembered our names and our class years and where we were from. What a mind! What humor! Spending time with him was always thoroughly entertaining and he will be sorely missed.

Phil Deutch and Greg White 鈥86:

Taking Stanley Pass/Fail Senior Year

It was an unusually sunny beautiful February day senior year as my friend Greg White and I climbed the steps of Chapin. We walked into one of our Spring electives, Dostoevsky taught by Professor Rabinowitz. As our 40 or so classmates sat down, Greg and I, carrying the relaxed air of soon to be graduates, grabbed two seats and look forward to a cushy semester鈥攚e, after all, were taking the course pass/fail. We had taken Stanley before and had formed a wonderful friendship with him in Russian Lit.

Professor Rabbonwitz entered the class: 鈥淢ost of you are here to learn, you care about Dostoevsky and Russian literature, you look forward to working together.鈥 Then he paused in serious silence. 鈥淏ut not everyone in here feels that way.鈥 With that, he wrote a big P on the Board. 鈥淭here are two people in this class who do not care about learning, who think they are just going to cruise through doing nothing.鈥 鈥淲ell, Mr. Deutch and Mr. White, remember this鈥濃攈e then erased the right side of the P, making a F 鈥攁nd sternly warned 鈥渢his can easily be this.鈥 鈥淢ake no mistake I will fail you.鈥 

The color drained from our faces. What had we done, what happened to our Senior Spring? Had we misjudged our friendship and connection with Professor Rabinowitz? We looked at each other wondering whether it was too late to pick-up Physics for Poets or some other proper gut. And then there it was in full glory. . . the Stanley smile, the sparkle in his eye, the stream of infectious giggling. The clear message he was very happy to see us and for we 3 friends to share a final semester together, but there was also learning to be had. We had a tremendous final semester of laughing and learning as was always the case with Stanley. And for that and so much more we are forever grateful. Rest well sweet prince.

Dmitry and Elizabeth Dinces 鈥86:

Family and friends of Dr. Vadim Filatov '86 will be forever grateful to Stanley for linking Vadim's memory with the Russian Department, a place Vadim and I called our home during our time in Amherst. Stanley had enabled establishment of the annual Vadim Filatov Memorial Lecture. This picture, with the Taubmans, Stanley, our kids and Armand Filatov, lower left, is from the very first Filatov lecture.

Jeff Hall 鈥86:

Thought I'd share this email exchange from September. Loved Professor Rabinowitz. Took his class due to his reputation, and fell in love with Russian literature. The world was so enriched by this literary giant, and of course his photographic memory continued to stun and amaze every time you'd see him.

From: Jeff Hall 
To: Stanley Rabinowitz 
Sent: Friday, September 1, 2023 at 06:19:49 PM CDT
Subject: Re: My Summer With Leo Tolstoy - The Wall Street Journal.

Professor Rabinowitz, you are right! Jeff Hall, nephew of Spike Beitzel (whose sister, my mom graduated from Mt. Holyoke), from Pennsylvania who married an Amherst student Margaret Truesdell '89 who is from Minneapolis. After the Peace Corps in Sierra Leone and business school in Cambridge, I married Margaret and we've been in beautiful Minneapolis ever since!

Thank you for an unforgettable Russian lit class, where you made these masterpieces come alive with the passion you have and shared with us. In the spring of 1985 I learned so much from you, and although I only earned a B it was an A+ on joy and life impact. I still have the paper I wrote on Anna Karenina and another on Chekhov!

Glad to hear you are enjoying retirement.

Big hugs to you Professor, and thank you for blessing me with your passion for Russian lit!

<><><><><>

On Friday, September 1, 2023 at 02:32:58 PM CDT, Stanley Rabinowitz wrote:

I recall 3 students I taught way back: Mike Hall, a swimmer from around Hartford; Max Hall, a physicist from Eastern Mass; and Jeff Hall from鈥攁nd now I tremble鈥擬innesota (or are you originally from Pennsylvania and wrote me from Minnesota when you sent me that signed card?)? Why do I think you were related to one of the College's trustees, who was chair in the late 70s (worked at IBM in Armonk鈥擲pike Beitzel)? Why do I see in my mind's eye a pamphlet called 鈥淒ear Stan...鈥濃攁bout postcards students sent me, which I often read out in class, signed by 鈥淛eff Hall 鈥86鈥, which I still have somewhere in a drawer in my Frost library study? Maybe I'm still drowsy鈥擨 woke up from my frequent afternoon nap and found this email, and just read Noonan's piece. Moving and very true. But if you are the Jeff Hall I think you are, I hope you know I haven't forgotten you, and appreciate you thinking of me. I officially retired 5 years ago but have taught 1 course in the spring during Covid. I travel between Amherst and Cambridge, where I have a condo, but am largely here. And I will now take my daily walk and then drop by some friends for a drink. So goes the life of an aging Amherst professor!

If I am all wrong on this, please forgive me, but in any case do let me know who and where you are, and what you are currently doing in life?

Best regards,
Prof. Rabinowitz

<><><><><>

On Fri, Sep 1, 2023 at 2:26鈥疨M Jeff Hall wrote:

I thought you would be interested in the following story from The Wall Street Journal.

Matt Glickman 鈥87:

I took a class with Professor Rabinowitz in my junior year. On the first day of class, he recited from memory my name, my hometown, and my high school. While he and his class had a lifelong impact on my love of Russian literature, I am pretty confident that I made no lasting impression on him.

Fast forward 30 years, and I am touring Amherst with my high school senior as she decides whether to attend Amherst. We walk down the hallway of a building to give her a feel for the college, and I see Stanley sitting in his office. At first, I keep walking, but I decide that life is short, and he had such an impact on my learning that I should double back and say hello.

Engrossed in paperwork, he responds to my knock with his signature startled, disheveled and exuberant demeanor. He claims to remember me somewhat from class, and starts engaging with my daughter. He asks her all kinds of questions about who she is and what she wants to study, sprinkled with pithy remarks about college life. We all laugh, relishing his wisdom and humor. As we leave, he offers my daughter a book from his shelf, tying the theme of the book to what he learned about my daughter in our brief conversation together.

This encounter summarized what is unique and good about Amherst, and its signature, singular ambassador, the late Professor Stanley Rabinowitz.

Alex Meerovich 鈥87:

Stanley was, hands down, one of my favorite professors at Amherst, along with Bill Taubman, Rick Griffiths, and George Kateb.

When I took his survey of Russian Lit course, he had a story every class. One story that stuck with me all these years is this:

By way of introduction: 1) Rabinowitz (Rabinovich) is a very common last name in the Russian-Jewish community. 2) Stanley's Russian was just about perfect and he could almost pass for a native speaker.

When Stanley was doing graduate research in Moscow during the Soviet Union days, he was once stopped by a Soviet policeman for no good reason and taken to the local police station. The cops there demanded to see his passport. Stanley took out his blue American passport and watched the cops' jaws drop. They expected him to show them a red Soviet passport because they thought he was a local. 鈥淏ut we thought you were our Rabinowitz!鈥 one of them finally said. 鈥淣o, thank God, I'm THEIR Rabinowitz,鈥 Stanley answered. They quickly let him go.

Given my own Russian-Jewish background, I love that story. Classic Stanley. I miss him already.

Matt Orr 鈥87:

I took a Russian lit class with Rabinowitz my freshman year in 1983. One of the essays he assigned was to explain why, in the novel Crime and Punishment, Dostoevsky had made the protagonist, Raskolnikov, kill the pawnbroker鈥檚 mentally disabled sister as part of a botched murder attempt intended only to target the pawnbroker. (All kind of gruesome, but Rabinowitz was into it.) As an 18 year-old, I had no good idea why that would have happened. It wasn鈥檛 until about a decade later when I was rereading the novel to my wife while she was bedridden with typhoid in Kenya that a better answer occurred to me. I sat on it for about another decade, then on a whim one day emailed Rabinowitz about it. I was surprised that he remembered me. I wasn鈥檛 surprised that he would neither agree nor disagree with my new and improved theory.

John A. Shope 鈥87:

One thing about Stanley Rabinowitz was that, while you might graduate from Amherst, you felt as though you would always be one of his students. I graduated as a Russian major in 1987, after a spring semester the prior year at Leningrad State. Though I mostly left Russian behind to pursue my legal career, I would see him occasionally at class reunions or, most recently, random events such as the investiture of a fellow alum as a justice of the state supreme court. A little more than a year before he died, Stanley reached out to me to inquire about a common acquaintance who had served as the librarian to the late Thomas P. Whitney 鈥37. (Whitney was a prolific translator of Solzhenitsyn, New York Times Moscow correspondent, collector of modernist Russian art, diplomat, and donor to the Amherst Center for Russian Culture.) Stanley was busy at work on his biography. After I mentioned that I had recently reread The Brothers Karamazov (hopefully with greater comprehension than I had during Stanley鈥檚 survey course forty years ago), Stanley then proceeded to offer a free voucher to an online seminar on the novel that that he was going to be leading the next week!

Elizabeth Spiller 鈥87:

I met Stanley before I arrived at Amherst鈥攈e more or less convinced me to come to the college; I continued to be in touch, on and off, for more than 30 years. He came to a talk I gave more than 15 years after I left Amherst, and it was like picking up a conversation that we had been having the week before.

This is a small moment from the spring of 1984, but I wanted to share it:

Introduction to Russian Literature, Spring of 1984, 150 people in the Red Room, one of the largest classes on campus. One day, at the start of class, Stanley said, Miss Spiller, you left your syllabus here last time. I came down later to pick it up, but it did not have my name on it. When I asked how he knew it was mine, he said, I knew it was yours because you are marking off things with left-handed check marks. Who notices that? I don鈥檛 even think I knew that I did that. The books were great鈥攖he only Amherst class I still own the books for鈥攂ut it was that sense of being known, each tiny moment, that mattered. Every couple of weeks Stanley would come in with a postcard鈥攕omeone on a beach somewhere, traveling through southeast Asia, working crazy hours in an unnamed corporate headquarters鈥攚riting in to say that now, five, ten, fifteen years later, they had finished War and Peace. These updates were reassuring when you still had 1200 pages to go, but more because you got this sense that the class was bigger than the Red Room, that the lives of the readers were at least as important as the lives of the characters. Stanley鈥檚 classes were, in the best of all possible ways, ones that you never quite finished.

I imagine you will get hundreds of responses, so let me just say how nice it is that you are celebrating his life and career. More than any other faculty member I had at Amherst, or indeed I have known in almost 30 years of teaching, Stanley Rabinowitz defined all of the best possibilities that Amherst has.

William Ackerman 鈥88:

As an economics major, I didn鈥檛 have any association with the Russian Lit department until a fortuitous time in my junior year, when I ventured over to Williston Hall for a Russian Lit class and became hooked; so hooked that I loaded up on Russia Lit classes at the expense of my econ major 鈥 oops 鈥

Diary of a Madman, The Cossacks, A Hero of Our Time, Fathers and Sons, and Anna Karenina covered by desk and their words opened my mind as Amherst promises. Why? Because of my experience with Prof. Rabinowitz I was never late to Professor Rabinowitz鈥檚 classes (I can鈥檛 say that for others) because I loved them鈥攈is enthusiasm, welcoming of the novice Russian Lit guy, and his engaging comments on my papers were great!

Even during the last few days of college, I was working on my Russian literate final paper with a bit of joy and sadness and even regret 鈥 why didn鈥檛 I meet him earlier? But a few weeks later, during President Pouncey鈥檚 graduation reception he came bouncing over and joyfully engaged my grandparents and I which was a memory that鈥檚 still as clear today as when I happened.

When I applied to graduate school a few years later, he was my first phone call and boy did he deliver!

鈥淒on鈥檛 be sad its over, be glad it happened鈥 is one of my favorite sayings and his life and influence on me are one of my best examples!!!!

David Gellman 鈥88:

Stanley Rabinowitz famously memorized the entire first year 鈥榝acebook鈥 each year. One day in the Red Room during my junior year, Stan decided to show off during a class discussion. He called on each student who raised their hand by saying their first and middle name. When I raised my hand, he didn鈥檛 call me anything; he just nodded or pointed. I made my comment. I could tell he was puzzled. The discussion, with his memory trick, went on, Stan calling on each student by their first and middle name. A few minutes later, I raised my hand again. He pointed to me. Just before I was about to speak, he said, 鈥淓xcuse me. What is your name?鈥 I mumbled, 鈥淒ave Gellman.鈥 To which he replied, 鈥淎h, David Nathaniel Gellman, Landon School for Boys. I didn鈥檛 recognize you without a tie! What is it you wanted to say David Nathaniel?鈥 

Larry LeHan 鈥88:

The article must capture at a minimum how he would mischievously call you out as you passed by or even from halfway across the Quad, reciting your name (including middle name of course, in the Russian tradition) and high school you attended. (Sometimes he鈥檇 feign for a moment or two that the recall wasn鈥檛 instant鈥攖apping his forehead briefly just for the right dramatic effect and comedic timing.) And, to be clear, this wasn鈥檛 just for his students; the word on the street was that he would memorize those details for each student from each freshman鈥檚 Facebook! He certainly got mine right, and that was two years before I had the great pleasure of taking his Russian Lit class.

Professor Rabinowitz was distinctly, happily unique and one of the most talented people I鈥檝e ever met鈥攕upremely intelligent and also equally vivacious and expressive. Of course, that made a pretty ideal combination of skills to present the great works of Russian Literature, which he did every day to a packed, rapt and highly approving audience. He brought such great joy to sharing his deep knowledge of the incredible novels he loved so much鈥攑erhaps because he relished and valued the interaction as much as the literature itself.

The terms 鈥榓lways on鈥 and 鈥榚xtra鈥 hadn鈥檛 come into vogue yet when I was at Amherst, but they both are at least a start in attempting to describe Professor Rabinowitz鈥 intense, gloriously unabashed verve for life and learning.

Joseph Kass 鈥89:

I was a Russian major and enjoyed the great fortune of having Professor Rabinowitz as my thesis advisor senior year. Our regular meetings were the highlight of my time at Amherst. Our interactions senior year were essentially a 9-month long conversation, full of laughter, wild hand gestures, thoughtful critiques, and constructive feedback. I do, however, recall my first interaction with Stanley, which took place as I was leaving Valentine one fall day during freshman year. Maybe because I was taking Russian, Professor Rabinowitz, who was department chair at the time, greeted me, calling me by my first and middle names. He even inquired about my parents by name. Stanley and I also shared the same birthday, and many years I would call him on our mutual birthday or shortly thereafter. Anyone who knew him can imagine the way the conversation went鈥攈is intonation, his faux annoyance that I hadn鈥檛 called sooner (if I was a few days late), followed by inquiries about my life and the health of parents, whom he did eventually meet. He was a passionate teacher and cared deeply about his students. He was also unflinchingly honest. In writing this reminiscence I have come to realize how much Professor Rabinowitz influenced my teaching style with my medical students and residents.

M.G. Shrager 鈥89:

Without doubt the professor I loved best (sry Austin #2), Rabinowitz made me fall hard for Russian lit. So great was his influence on me that my parents feared I鈥檇 move to Russia and get stuck behind the 鈥淚ron Curtain鈥 writing depressing poetry, inspired by my heroes:

Bulgakov, Akhmatova, Dostoyevsky鈥 and the kindest teacher I ever had, Professor Rabinowitz. I think he saw something in me I didn鈥檛 see myself. Thank you for caring and inspiring.


Image
A man laughing at a party surrounded by people who are also laughing

鈥淗e was full of life and love,鈥 wrote Justin Snider 鈥99. 鈥淎nd I can still hear that magnificent laugh!鈥


Class of 1990鈥1999

John Beck 鈥90:

As a sophomore, I signed up for one of Professor Rabinowitz's Russian Literature classes with 90 (or so) of my fellows. Other than Austin Sarat's LPS classes, it was the largest class I took at Amherst.

Unfortunately, I had had the flu for a few days, missed class and had fallen behind on The Master and Margarita (or whatever that week鈥檚 novel was).

Following my first class back, I hung around to ask about getting an extension on the paper due the next day. I鈥檇 never spoken to Professor Rabinowitz outside of class and didn't relish that our first interaction could make me seem flaky or irresponsible.

Someone was already ahead of me, making his pitch and (dammit!) asking for an extension. He went into considerable detail about all matter of calamity and personal challenge.

鈥淥h, I don't think I can give you an extension,鈥 said Professor Rabinowitz. 鈥淵ou'll have to figure out how to get it done.鈥 Clearly unhappy, the student slunk away.

I stepped up to the lectern (or is it podium?) and considered what to say next. Before I could introduce myself, Professor Rabinowitz said, 鈥淥h, John, you're so good. Of course you can have an extra day or two. Hope you're feeling better.鈥 

Flabbergasted, I'm not even sure I thanked him.

Stephanie Rosen 鈥90:

Stanley's Intro to Russian Literature was my favorite class at Amherst. What a gift to have such a brilliant, caring, and charismatic teacher three times a week! Of course, most of us didn't want to miss a class, but there was one student who didn't feel the same way....

He was a popular athlete, and one day he sauntered into the Red Room 20 minutes late. He nonchalantly took a seat in the back row. Stanley stopped himself mid-lecture. Stanley gushed, 鈥淗ow lovely to see you! Glad you could make it.鈥 The student actually blushed and looked down.

Stanley continued, 鈥淚 think we have a slight misunderstanding between us.鈥 Of course, the whole class perked up. 鈥淭his class meets Monday (Stanley wrote M on the board) AND Wednesday (he wrote W on the board) AND Friday (he wrote F on the board). However! (he paused for dramatic effect). You seem to be under the impression that the class meets Monday, OR (here he erased the M) Wednesday, (he erased the W), OR Friday.鈥 (Dramatic pause and tilt of the head). Circling the F Stanley said, 鈥淪adly, if you continue on with this misperception, this (he pointed to the 鈥淔鈥) is all that remains.鈥 

We were simply astonished that with a full Red Room, Stanley noticed (and cared) who was there and who was not. The student, of course, never missed another class.

Lowell Weiss 鈥90:

Stanley had a greater influence on me than any other professor at Amherst. That鈥檚 not just because he was so knowledgeable about Russian literature, so smart, and so wildly entertaining. The biggest factor was his skill in and passion for bringing out the best in each and every student. I knew that if I did not do all of my reading before class, he would see it in my face immediately and call me out. (I found that out the hard way.) I knew that if I was having trouble with a paper, I could open up to him about my struggles, and he would give me an unreasonable amount of his time to provide just the help I needed. I knew that Stanley could have earned more global acclaim if he had defected to Harvard or Oxford, but he chose to stay at Amherst because it gave him the opportunity to forge close relationships with students. I knew that he remained interested in me for decades after I graduated and would be pissed at me if I came to ever came to Cambridge or Amherst and didn鈥檛 reach out. To me, Stanley is the ultimate model of a big-brain, big-heart liberal arts professor鈥攅ven as I know there will never be another one like him. I miss him terribly! 

Brad Goldberg 鈥91:

I was lucky to get into Russian Literature as a Freshman.  In the spring of 1988, Amherst held a grandparents鈥 weekend, and my grandmother Jane Goldberg flew out from Highland Park, Illinois.  After attending my morning Japanese class together, we walked into the stadium-style classroom for Russian Lit. Professor Rabinowitz opened the class by cold calling Jane, who was the only grandparent in attendance. After asking her why she was here and where she was from, he walked through a list of former Highland Park High School students to compare notes to see if she knew any of the kids or families. I don鈥檛 remember what book we were reading that day, but later in the class, he called on her again to ask her opinion on a passage. Jane loved Russian literature, so this experience had even greater meaning for her. In just one class, she was able to experience the excitement and energy Professor Rabinowitz brought to Amherst each day.

Josh Jacobs 鈥91:

I had Stanley for Russian 23, Russian Lit since the Revolution, my senior year in 1990. As per the Stanley legend, he already knew me by name and high school when I walked into the class. What I remember about the class itself was that he brought to life Soviet Realist novels in a way no other professor could, encouraging rigorous but playful discussion and writing. The novel that I always remembered from this class was 鈥淐EMENT鈥 by Gladkov, depicting Soviet life through the lens of a cement factory town. I kept in touch with Stanley off and on after graduation. In the late 2000s, my work took me to China and I got to visit a real Communist-run cement factory and was so pleased to be able to let him know I鈥檇 stepped into a moment from our classroom. In our last email exchange a few years ago, his reply to me began by placing him in the Starbucks in Cambridge doing his email and 鈥渃rowing that I immediately recognized the name and therefore the person when I saw Joshua S. Jacobs.鈥 My memory is nothing like his, but I鈥檒l always remember Stanley.

Rachel Radway 鈥91:

This isn鈥檛 a single anecdote, because Stanley Rabinowitz was a huge part of my Amherst experience. He bookended it: Stanley was the first professor I met at freshman orientation (and we鈥檇 been in touch by mail over the summer) and the last one I saw at my 20th reunion; years later, we emailed when I wanted to donate some books to the Amherst Center for Russian Culture.

I鈥檇 studied Russian for two years in high school, so I arrived at college eager to level up. Stanley quizzed me and suggested I start in first-year Russian and review. I took his dare and opted for the second-year class. When I quickly proved that I belonged there, he laughed and pushed me to do the best I could.

He was also my freshman advisor and went easy on me on course selection; I took a ton of language, art and culture classes, and very little else. I knew what I wanted鈥攄own to the grad program I鈥檇 be applying for鈥攁nd pursued it single-mindedly, and Stanley supported me all the way.

When it came time to choose my thesis advisor, I told myself I should work with someone different. I chose another professor in the department, thinking Stanley might be too easy on me. The professor I asked tried to shift me over to Stanley, telling me he鈥檇 specifically expressed interest in advising me and she was too busy. I held firm, and regret that decision to this day. I did an adequate job, but never clicked with or felt supported by the advisor I chose. I suspect I would have done better work and had more fun senior year had I worked with Stanley.

He was an amazing person and a wonderful professor, and will be missed.

Mitch Reed 鈥91:

I was a Russian major so spent a lot of quality time with Professor Rabinowitz. My favorite and most recent memory was running into him at my 25th reunion where he greeted me with 鈥淢itchell Warren Reed鈥 (no name tag needed of course) and proceeded to chide me with 鈥淵ou鈥檙e living in San Francisco now? I guess you must be very busy since I didn鈥檛 see you at the talk I gave there last year鈥. This was of course followed by a warm conversation in which he seemed to recall more about my college years than I did. A great man whose passion for Russian language and literature were truly inspirational. May he rest in peace鈥

Stephan Rapaglia 鈥92:

As an upperclassman, I took Professor Rabinowitz鈥檚 Russian lit class pass/fail with the primary goal of skating by, while I focused on other priorities. (I know, I know) A few weeks into the semester, I received a letter from Professor Rabinowitz handwritten on Amherst Baseball stationery. It began, 鈥淒ear Stephan, this is your other coach, Coach Rabinowitz鈥︹ with the gist of the letter being that my classroom attendance was lacking and it was time for a chat. I sheepishly visited him at his office, where he told me (not at all unkindly) that he could not in good conscience give me a passing grade if I failed to attend class, even if my written work was adequate. Needless to say, my subsequent attendance was much improved! To this day, I don鈥檛 know how Professor Rabinowitz got hold of Amherst Baseball stationery, and I was way too embarrassed at the time to ask Coach Thurston if he had a role in the event鈥. 

Evan Rothman 鈥92:

At the 25th Reunion for the Class of 1992, I was walking across the Quad and saw Professor Rabinowitz heading in my direction. He looked pretty much the same a quarter-century on; I was a bit heavier and a lot balder. 鈥淧rofessor Rabinowitz, so nice to see you!鈥 I said. 鈥淲ait, wait鈥攄on鈥檛 tell me,鈥 he commanded. His party trick of knowing every student鈥檚 name and high school from day one was legendary, but surely this was a bridge too far. He studied my face for a few seconds. 鈥淓van Rothman鈥reat Neck North High School.鈥 I was gobsmacked鈥. Five years later, I ran into him again, outside the Black Sheep, and I told him (sheepishly) that I鈥檇 recently reread 鈥淐rime and Punishment鈥 and found it repetitive and heavy sledding; he gleefully informed me that Nabokov shared a similar opinion. RIP, Professor Rabinowitz鈥攜ou represented the best of 麻豆国产AV and will be greatly missed.

Kevin Walker 鈥92:

Hello! Here is a 鈥淪tanecdote鈥 I'd like to share:

Even several years after graduation I would pass through Amherst a couple times a year. Usually, I would reach out to Stanley to say hello or go to Bertucci's. But on one occasion I just had a few minutes to stop at Hastings. As I came out, I heard a shout from across the street: 鈥淵ou didn't call!鈥 Of course it was Stanley, and how he picked me out of the crowd from a distance, was upon reflection, not surprising at all. As I went over to speak with him, another alum happened by. 鈥淲ell, hello,鈥 Stanley said, and pointing to that alum's khakis which still bore the sizing sticker he added, 鈥淚 see you still work at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.鈥 Perhaps that person is reading this? We shared a laugh and the joy that we could still, years after graduation, bask in Professor Rabinowitz's personal attention salted with humor and the reminder that (ahem) he had our number. I love him so!

Lisa H. Cooper 鈥93:

鈥淥ne day, when you actually read Anna Karenina, here are some things you might notice鈥.鈥 In this way, as with every book in his astounding Russian Novel: Part II course, Stanley Rabinowitz introduced us to the glories of Russian literature in translation. Even as he poked endless fun at us鈥攎emorizing our names and faces well before the term began, the better to do so鈥擨 think we all knew we were in the presence of something special. I only took the one class (how I wish I had taken more!), but in all the semesters afterwards, Professor Rabinowitz (I would never have dared to call him Stanley) always offered me a cheerful greeting whenever we ran into each other, and it always made my day. Now a literature professor myself, with a young daughter who just read her way through a tattered copy of Anna Karenina marked up with the genius of Professor Rabinowitz鈥檚 insights, I invoke him each time I teach my large lecture (鈥淎s a professor of mine used to say, 鈥榦ne day, when you actually read鈥.鈥). It never fails to get a laugh. Thank you, Professor Rabinowitz. I can only hope that my own students might one day remember me with as much awed fondness and deep respect.

Seth T. Cohen 鈥94:

Rapid footfalls came to a halt. I half-woke from my nap to see the hem of a trench coat. Whoever it was had stopped only for a moment and then walked away quickly. 

Rabinowitz made a dramatic entrance into the Red Room of Converse Hall later that afternoon. Back of hand to forehead, he gasped, 鈥淵ou would not believe what I saw one half-hour ago on the second floor of the library.鈥 I sank in my chair. 鈥淪omeone in this room鈥itting among you now鈥sleep, jacket over head, like this,鈥 he mimicked my sleeping position. 鈥淎nd, here鈥檚 the worst part鈥his person was still reading Crime and Punishment.鈥 We were supposed to have finished it two weeks earlier.

He had jokingly (I thought) warned the class that he patrolled campus. 鈥淚鈥檒l be watching you,鈥 he had said. Now, my face reddened. I had become Raskolnikov.

Decades later, in the time-honored tradition followed by Rabinowitz鈥檚 students upon finally finishing an assigned reading, I wrote him a note. I told him about my life which, I said, 鈥渨as full of struggles and wonder.鈥 And, I said, 鈥渟ome 20 years after being directed by [Rabinowitz] to do so, I [had] read Anna Karenina.鈥 Though I regretted 鈥渉aving squandered too much鈥 of college, I told him I took solace knowing that I had too little life experience back then to have gotten much out of Tolstoy. 鈥淧erhaps the world works the way it should,鈥 I wrote, 鈥渁nd we get around to things when we are actually ready for them.鈥

He wrote back, elated. He would be passing through town. We met for lunch. He had changed little, and, of course, remembered everything. We talked Tolstoy. He spouted humor and brilliance as if we were back in Converse Hall. We are students鈥攈is students鈥攆or life. 

Josh Freedenberg 鈥95:

One of the reasons Amherst appealed to me when deciding where to apply for college was its lack of prerequisites, especially language. However, upon arriving on campus, my advisor, Prof. Thomas Dumm, told me about Amherst's vaunted Russian department and convinced me to take Russian 11 with Prof. Rabinowitz. It was the best decision I made during my four years.

After four semesters, I was done with taking Russian, but I wanted to reunite with Prof. Rabinowitz and recapture that first semester freshman year magic. So I enrolled in his Russian Literature class in the spring of my junior year. It was everything I hoped for but at the end of the semester, I sold all my Russian Lit books back to the bookstore in town. The Tolstoy and Dostoevsky tomes went for a little more cash than the Pushkin, Chekhov and Gogol, but I resold them all.

Well, that fall Prof. Rabinowitz was perusing the shelves at that bookstore and discovered my indiscretion. He contacted me and gave me a good-natured ribbing. Mortified, I asked him what I could do to make it up to him. He suggested that I address his incoming Russian Lit class that semester. I agreed. So in the Cole Assembly Room at Converse Hall, before Prof. Rabinowitz even broached the syllabus, he announced a special guest, and I stood in front of the class and testified to the life-changing semester upon which the students were about to embark, strongly suggested how these classics should adorn their bookshelves in perpetuity and forewarned them of the dangers of ever parting with the books for a fistful of dollars. 

The whole time I was speaking, Prof. Rabinowitz was standing back, convulsively cracking up, stifling his laughter the way he did with just the tips of his fingers pressed to his lips while looking skyward. This is the lasting image in my mind's eye of my favorite college professor.

Emma Chanlett-Avery 鈥96:

This was hard to write鈥攁nd impossible to boil down to one specific anecdote for me. Thanks for the opportunity to reflect on what Stanley meant to me.

It's hard to overstate the impact that Professor Rabinowitz had on my life at Amherst. As a Russian major, I was in his orbit from my first days on campus as a language student until the very end as his thesis advisee. As a freshman I took his legendary Russian 22 literature course: daunting, exciting, and wildly entertaining (and where I met my future husband). Many remember his astounding ability to memorize the freshman directory every year, but that was a mere party trick that reflected his deep affection and attention to all his students. He nurtured and challenged and humored me through four years at Amherst as I bounced between Asian Languages and Civilizations and Russian Studies. With his encouragement, I spent the summer of 1994 as a camp counselor in central Siberia to work on my language ability, read鈥攙ery slowly鈥攁 chapter of Crime and Punishment in the original Russian, and wrote a senior thesis on how Russian artists and poets absorbed Japanese influence in the early 20th century. These examples may all be of questionable academic value, but Stanley was a deep believer in pushing students to forge their own liberal arts experience. When I returned to Russia years later, reminders of how effectively he and the Russian Department instilled the literary tradition in my studies appeared everywhere: Anna Akmatava's flat, Patriarch's Pond, Dostoyevsky's apartment. We kept up a sporadic correspondence after college; he always wrote back immediately and his breathless, dramatic voice lifted off the page. In June 2022, I returned to campus for Reunion, the absolute highlight of which was an al fresca lunch hosted by the Taubmans, and Stanley was as he always was: hilarious, insistently curious about our lives, generous in his praise. To me, Stanley Rabinowitz WAS 麻豆国产AV, and I feel so fortunate to have known him.

Benjamin Maraniss 鈥96:

Stanley convinced me to go to Amherst. It was over a chance meeting on a bus from Cambridge to Northampton. I used to think it was a miracle that we were in the same place, and had made the same travel arrangements, but now Stanley鈥檚 presence at crucial moments seems inevitable. Every time I returned, he was the person I knew I would see, and who would remember to ask me about all the classmates of mine that we knew in common. You could chart the progress of your life based on conversations with Stanley, but time seemed to collapse around him. His personality was so constant and charming that he made the college feel like home when it was distant. A character as big as his so defines Amherst that their absence changes it forever. Fortunately for everyone who knew him, his presence is also always felt, warmly.

Joey Schotland 鈥96:

I was a Russian Studies major who took Stanley's justifiably famous survey of Russian lit, had him as an advisor, and saw him almost yearly after graduating. He was a teacher, mentor, and friend who changed my life. I'd like to share many memories, but to keep this short, here are a few that show the range of his talents, the gifts he gave to all of us. Thanks to Stanley, I read Anna Karenina during our first-year January inter-term. As I read about Anna's marriage falling apart, the snow was falling outside my dorm room in Stearns. It was beautiful. I tucked the book under my arm and went to the campus center to get some hot chocolate and warm up just as Anna's affair with Vronsky was heating up. What a book. Since graduating, I have been a high-school teacher. I try to establish the same kind of rapport with my students that Stanley had with his. I fail to match him, of course, but I'm still inspired by his jokes, prodigious memory, and genuine concern for his students. I also owe my wife to Stanley. The night I first met She Who Must Be Obeyed, she and I had just鈥攂y coincidence and separately鈥攆inished reading War and Peace. She was struck by my insightful analysis and comments, all of which of course were not mine. They were what Stanley had said in class. In other words, my wife married me because she thought I was smart. I'm not, but I was smart enough to take notes on, and remember clearly, what Stanley had taught me. Years ago, I brought our three kids鈥攁ll of whom were then around eight-years old鈥攖o show them the Russian Center. I wasn't sure how Stanley would relate to young children, but in seconds, he had given them Russian candy and was showing them his great collection of samovars. Our kids were enthralled. SJR had successfully cast his spell yet again. This past fall, I showed our son around Amherst in hope that he'd apply. We took Stanley out to dinner because I wanted to show our son the kind of professors, scholars, and wonderful mentors he could have at a small liberal-arts college such as Amherst. Stanley gave my son excellent academic and career advice. At one point during the meal, I took out Stanley's translation of Akim Volynsky's book of ballet criticism. I've never read a book review like the one the NY Times did of Stanley's translation. It starts, 鈥淭his is a fantastic book... [that was] lovingly edited and translated by Stanley J. Rabinowitz.鈥 I asked Stanley to read his favorite passage, one that would convey to our son Volynsky's sublime writing. Stanley chose an excerpt where Volynsky basically writes that a ballet is like a fabric that has been stitched together very carefully and tightly. Remove one thread and the whole fabric starts to fray and fall apart. Since Stanley has passed, I feel like a thread has been removed from my life. What an amazing professor, what a scholar, what a singular man, what a mensch, what an unforgettable institution he was.

Thank you Stanley. Thank you Amherst.

Rachel (Spiegel) Gerstein 鈥97:

Alas, I only got to know Professor Rabinowitz my senior year, in the capacious, sunken classroom of Converse Hall, one of the few spaces on campus to accommodate a large class, for the sheer popularity of his celebrated teaching, for his proselytizing, like a missionary seeding his abiding love of Russian literature far and wide. But even more than the ease and enthusiasm with which Professor Rabinowitz guided us through Dostoevsky鈥檚 Crime and Punishment or Tolstoy鈥檚 Anna Karenina, I remember to this day the distinctive physical presence he conjured. Yes portly, yes always a suit and tie, but perhaps most memorably, a certain chuckle鈥攁 descending scale of chromatic notes鈥攁 character himself, springing forth from the page. Chuckling vibrations struck most powerfully on my graduation weekend, May 1997. Strolling from the campus center, up the hill to Frost Library, with my parents and my twelve-year-old little brother, we bumped into my dear professor. He immediately spotted the sheet music for Liszt鈥檚 Totentanz tucked under my brother鈥檚 arm. Laughing heartily, he incredulously queried as to whether such a young person could possibly be responsible for the notes he鈥檇 heard emanating from the campus center piano only moments before. Professor Rabinowitz expressed amazement, not only by my brother鈥檚 affirmative reply, but also by the juxtaposition of such a young person鈥檚 highbrow skill coupled with the more lowbrow Florida Marlins jacket he was sporting. The boundless joy with which Professor Rabinowitz spoke to us in that moment, the inimitable intelligence with which he endowed a seemingly mundane exchange (just a graduating senior and her family) encapsulates the rigor with which he taught, the kindness with which he connected, the contagious verve with which he lived.

Beth Linker 鈥98:

I was a computer science major in my junior year when I took Prof. Rabinowitz鈥檚 Intro to Russian Literature class. I went to his office hours once. He asked me what else I was taking, and I said macroeconomics and two computer science courses. 鈥淚鈥檓 so sorry,鈥 he replied, 鈥渋t鈥檚 good that you鈥檙e here then.鈥 

Adam E. Block 鈥99:

I had Professor Rabinowitz for Russian Lit in spring 1999. I was one of 150 students, a face in a sea of faces. He was famous for remembering every single student's name and the high school they attended which he readily showed off during class to the enjoyment of all of our classmates.

Professor Rabinowitz stopped by our 20th reunion in 2019, he looked exactly the same except instead of the full head of dark brown hair it had gone white. I had not seen him in 20 years and without missing a beat he said, 鈥淗ello Adam Block, from Paul D. Schreiber High School鈥

Wow! 

He was part of what made Amherst a special place and he will be missed.

Justin Snider 鈥99:

Like many Amherst first-years, I met Stanley after just a few days on campus and was shocked he knew my name, hometown, high school and Zip code. (How was this humanly possible?!) When I told him I planned to study German in my first semester, not Russian, he said I would come to regret the decision. (I didn't鈥攁 rare instance of Professor Rabinowitz being wrong!) I found room for first-year Russian in my sophomore year, drawn by two things: he would be teaching it, and it would meet at a very reasonable hour (1 p.m., instead of the usual 9 a.m.). Enrollment swelled. I had taken Survey of Russian Literature II with him in my second semester at Amherst, and it was the highlight of my first year. His lectures in the Red Room were mesmerizing. We tried, and mostly failed, to read each work on the crowded syllabus. When Stanley returned my first essay with a grade on it, he noted that he didn't care a whit what all of the secondary sources I'd quoted had to say about the texts鈥攈e wanted to hear my voice, to know my interpretations. I had misunderstood the assignment: the point was to wrestle with Tolstoy and Dostoevsky myself, not to outsource my thinking to others. The goals were those of liberal-arts education more broadly: to refine my close-reading skills and to test my arguments and analysis, not to regurgitate others' ideas. I wouldn't have had the courage to trust myself as a developing writer and thinker without Stanley's prodding. Like all great teachers, Stanley didn't allow us to settle for less than we could be. I had the great good fortune of remaining in contact with him for nearly 25 years after graduating, and I am so grateful to have been in attendance last October at the celebration of his five-decade career at Amherst. He was, as always, full of life and love and humor and that magnificent laugh that even now I can hear in my head. The world needs more Stanleys.


Class of 2000鈥2009

Keith Boynton 鈥04:

I was taking a lecture class with Stanley, and he started to get frustrated that so many students would get up and use the bathroom during his lectures. He began joking that students should wear diapers to class, so as not to miss a thing.

So Mario Rojas and I came to his next class wearing diapers on the outside of our clothing. To be honest, I don't think Stanley was very amused, but it's still a fond memory. It shows how much we enjoyed and respected him that we thought he would get a kick out of it鈥攅ven if we turned out to be wrong.

Graham "肖械写褟" Dumas, 鈥04:

I was certain I wanted to go to Middlebury when I met Professor Rabinowitz for the first time. As a prospective student up for a long weekend, I sat in on Professor Rabinowitz's modern Russian literature survey course, the lecture that he held in that giant room in Converse Hall; I was sold immediately.  I wasn't always wild about my time at Amherst, but I loved being a Russian major, thanks to excellent professors like Stanley Rabinowitz and the tight-knit community of the Russian Department as a whole.  I signed up for his modern lit class the first chance I got.  Professor Rabinowitz taught my fourth-semester Russian language class, and I know I took at least one more literature class with him--I want to say it was "Strange Russian Writers."  That was Professor Rabinowitz in a nutshell.  He was himself very strange, in the best possible way.  And it was so clear that he enjoyed his subject matter as much as he did teaching it.  I'm so glad that his love of the language and the literature will live on in the extremely fitting dedication of the reading room within the Center for Russian Culture.

Diana (Cappiello) Briggs 鈥05:

It was with great sadness that I received news of the death of Prof. Rabinowitz. He was my undergraduate advisor and a major factor in my decision to attend Amherst. I sat in on one of his classes before I even applied, and was spellbound. 鈥淚f this is what class is like,鈥 I thought, 鈥淚 have to go to college here.鈥

My mother, a fellow New Yorker, also loved Prof. Rabinowitz, who she saw as a kindred spirit and someone she could count on to look out for her daughter. He did, routinely going above and beyond to help me both academically and personally. As a Russian major and Russian House president for several semesters, I often sought his advice and support, and he always came through.

My favorite story, though, is from a time he lost patience with me. Russian language wasn't my favorite course, and I had a habit of phoning it in, showing up late and not completing assignments. One day during Russian 3 in Webster I flubbed a simple question and Rabinowitz let loose on me, shouting at the top of his lungs, 鈥淐APPIELLO! This used to be a science building, you know! There are probably still flasks bubbling in the basement! We should take you down there and pickle your brain in vinegar for a thousand years until medicine can figure out what's wrong with you MISS DIANA CAPPIELLO!鈥

I will never forget that as long as I live! But I'll also never forget how he set up weekly one-on-one tutoring sessions to help me get back on track in Russian, or a million other kind, inspiring, motivating things Prof. Rabinowitz did for me during my time at Amherst. And this is besides the wonderful experience of his teaching! Who else could pack a survey course on Russian Literature to the rafters semester after semester? Only him.

Professor Rabinowitz was one-of-a-kind, and it was a privilege to know him as a mentor and a human being. He leaves tough shoes to fill, and a great legacy behind him. He will be deeply missed. 

Anders Meyer 鈥05:

I met Prof. Rabinowitz in his Intro to Russian Literature class (which I loved). While I was a middling student, we bonded over classical music and he supported my musical efforts for years. In particular, he created several concerts for me in the Russian Room. These were highlights of my time at Amherst. Looking back, I'm awed at the warmth and energy he directed at a student in one of his large intro classes. He truly embodied the Amherst spirit.

Emmalie Dropkin 鈥07:

I took Strange Russian Writers with Professor Rabinowitz, as I know many did! Yes, he memorized all our zip codes, and once answered a student's ringing phone and had a whole conversation with her mother, and mispronounced my name to differentiate me from the Emily of a normal spelling who sat next to me. But what I remember most is that one week, after I'd fallen off my bike in a truly ridiculous accident in the bird sanctuary and gotten some weird bruises, he pulled me aside after class to discreetly ask if anyone was hurting me. At the time, I muttered something embarrassed about falling off my bike, but I'll always remember him for caring about me in that way when he didn't even know me all that well. In addition to the delightfully bombastic performances in class, he was a truly good man.

Lola Milholland 鈥07:

I was back at Amherst in the summer of 2009, two years after I'd graduated, to attend a wedding of a friend at the Emily Dickinson House. After the party, and several drinks in, another friend and I wandered over to Rao鈥檚 for a coffee (RIP) because it used to stay open until 10. Once there, we found Stanley Rabinowitz sitting, drinking a coffee, and reading a paper. I remember him in a Christmas-pattern-like sweater, very focused on his reading. When we called out his name, he responded, 鈥淗ello, Lola Milholland 97211,鈥 although I hadn鈥檛 been in his class in 3+ years. 

He鈥檇 just published Ballet鈥檚 Magic Kingdom, which had gotten a positive write up in the New York Times. The opening line of the review was 鈥淭his is a fantastic book.鈥 We congratulated him, but in my memory he shrugged us off, slighted by something else entirely. Because we were on our own journey that night, I didn鈥檛 get a chance to tell him how much I鈥檇 loved his class, Strange Russian Writing, which I remember more vividly than almost any other class I took at Amherst: the horseshoe shape we sat in, how infectious his love of the material was, the way he could put a student in their place without diminishing them, which seems miraculous. I never saw him after that, but I still treasure the books he introduced me to and the way the writing changed my understanding of writing itself. Rest in peace 01002! 

Dan Cluchey 鈥08:

Thank you for compiling these recollections; it means a lot. I'm adding mine below鈥300 words on the dot, per the instructions. If it does need to be trimmed or otherwise edited, I'd respectfully ask that it not be included at all... a completely pretentious request, I know, but I'm a little religious about words that run with my name on them. Either way, I appreciate you putting these together, and look forward to reading them. Thanks for all you do to create such an excellent magazine.

It took me a while to figure out what I loved about Stanley Rabinowitz鈥攊t doesn't hit you right away. What hits you right away is the performance, of course: the zip codes, the foibles, the verve. The tender delight for the language. The very-Jerry-Lewisness of it all. Sure, the Russian writers were strange. But not as strange as the professor.

If that's all he'd been鈥攁 passionate and compelling teacher鈥攄ayenu: it would've been enough. But in my first year of college, at an age prone to ironic detachment and cynicism and worse, he gave me permission to slough off those habits and write the way I felt. In class, he showed us the depth of absurdity; he reached under the surface of these weird and beautiful stories, and fished out what was human and true. In office hours, he hectored me to write with sincerity鈥攖o write with my whole heart. To be openly sentimental, unabashedly earnest, and weird, too, if that鈥檚 how you feel. Not to run from those impulses in the interest of playing it cool, but to run toward them in the interest of honesty. Nobody had ever told me that before.

For a while after I graduated, I got lunch with him in Cambridge once a year, and we emailed off and on after that. The last note came in 2022; he still addressed me as Monsieur Clu-CHEE, as he had since sophomore year upon learning my surname was French. As attuned as he was to the plot points of your life鈥攖he facts and figures, the hometowns and high schools he鈥檇 recite鈥攊t was the subtext he cared about most: the sentiment under the surface, the honest joys and passions of our lives, the beautiful hidden in the strange. I鈥檒l miss him dearly.

Lauren (Hill) Pendley 鈥08:

Professor Rabinowitz is undoubtedly remembered by many of his students for his quirky, always entertaining personality. One of his tricks was to memorize students鈥 zip codes, or to ask to talk to the person on the other end of the line if someone鈥檚 cell phone went off during class. But what stands out to me about him is his passion for and commitment to the Russian language and literature. As a first-year student, I told Rabinowitz, my adviser, that I was wavering between studying Russian and Chinese. Heartbroken, he yelled at me not to look at the books in his office. At the time, I wasn鈥檛 sure how to respond to the outburst, but I eventually started learning Russian as a sophomore, and later decided to major in it. Rabinowitz remained my adviser throughout my time at Amherst, and I gratefully worked for him in the Russian Center after graduating, having failed to prepare to find a 鈥渞eal job.鈥 Our offices shared a wall, and we bonded over some historical research I did into his large personal collection of samovars (urns used to boil water for tea). To this day, Rabinowitz is the only person I鈥檝e known who would not only talk to but yell at himself. He was a major part of my Amherst education and will be sorely missed.

Zoe Fenson 鈥09:

The first college class I ever walked into as a freshman was First-Year Russian I with Stanley Rabinowitz, and I was hooked. By spring of my sophomore year, I knew that I wanted to major in some combination of Theater & Dance and Russian, so I arranged a meeting with Connie Congdon (playwright-in-residence and my eventual thesis advisor) and Cathy Ciepiela (Russian professor) to get some guidance. The most convenient location to hold the meeting was in the Russian department lounge.

On the day of the meeting, I arrived a little early on the third floor of Webster. Stanley Rabinowitz was in his office, spotted me, and waved me in. It was a slushy day and he had apparently stepped in a puddle and soaked his shoe through to his sock, so he'd taken off the shoe and put the sock on the radiator in his office to dry. He was also recovering from a cold, so he'd made a sign to hang around his neck that said I CAN'T TALK I HAVE LARYNGITIS. Despite said laryngitis, we had a bit of a chat, he feigned indignation and kicked me out of his office, and I went down the hall to the Russian lounge for my meeting.

At one point during the meeting, Stanley Rabinowitz left his office and walked with his slow stately gait past the open door of the lounge, with one foot fully shod and the other foot bare, wearing the sign around his neck that said I CAN'T TALK I HAVE LARYNGITIS. We watched him go by, and then Connie Congdon said, 鈥淲hy is Stanley only wearing one shoe?鈥 Cathy Ciepela shrugged and replied, 鈥淲ell, some days are better than others.鈥

Inessa Gelfenboym 鈥09:

Here's my Rabinowitz Recollection (or Stanecdote, as was appropriately coined during Stanley's memorial service):

It was the early days of my senior year. I was washing a ceramic mug in my suite bathroom in the late evening and managed to break the mug so spectacularly that I split my palm open and started to bleed all over the bathroom. After I nearly passed out, my suitemates called ACEMS who valiantly transported me to UMass to get some eight stitches in my hand. When I returned to my dorm, it was late and I had an early wake-up to work in the theater shop in the morning.

I dragged myself out of bed and made it to my shift. I was so spent from working and my late night that I decided it would be a good idea to take a short nap before my fourth year Russian class with Victoria Alexandrovna (of whom I was at all times at least mildly terrified). Of course, I slept right through my alarm and when I woke up I was already late for class. I hurried to Webster only to find the door to my classroom locked. In a state of panic, I rushed to Stanley's office and explained the situation. The first words out of his mouth were, 鈥淵ou're in for it now! She's going to kill you for this!鈥 and before I knew it, he was out in the hallway in front of me, knocking emphatically at the door of my classroom. When Victoria Alexandrovna opened the door, he immediately began apologizing profusely in Russian, 鈥淪o sorry, so sorry. She hurt her hand!鈥 Here he gestured toward my heavily bandaged hand, implying that it was a freshly obtained injury, rather than my own irresponsibility that was responsible for my tardiness. Victoria Alexandrova not only didn't murder me, but expressed a great deal of sympathy for me and let me right into class. Thank you, Stanley, for everything you taught me, for your mentorship on my thesis, and for keeping me from being murdered by Victoria Alexandrovna. 

Scott Smith 鈥09:

Prof. Rabinowitz taught my father, Paul Smith '76, and when he learned I was a student at Amherst he emailed me and insisted we have lunch at Val. After that lunch, having had no intention of studying Russian or Russian literature, I took two of his classes which were highlights of my time at Amherst. The books we read remain on my shelf and I return to them to this day.

My mother came for Parent's Weekend while I was a student of Prof. Rabinowitz. We met him during an event at the Center for Russian Culture, at which my mother told him that she had studied Russian in high school in the 1960s. Prof. Rabinowitz asked her the name of her high school, and then proceeded to name her Russian teacher and tell stories about having met her and other former students who he'd taught at Amherst. My mom was floored鈥攕he still talks about it.

I ran into Stanley a few times in Cambridge years after I left Amherst, while I was in graduate school. The last time I saw him was on a bus, a route he'd never been on before, trying to visit a friend's home he'd never been to. By the time he got off the bus, I and about half the bus riders had weighed in to help him with the directions, where to get off, and how he'd catch the bus back. For a teacher so deeply immersed in literature about being lost in the city, I feel so lucky to have this off kilter, oddly appropriate final memory.

Stanley was a bright light of my time at Amherst. Looking forward to reading everyone else's remembrances.


Class of 2010鈥2019

Robyn Bahr 鈥10:

  1. This one isn't funny, per se, but it was a wonderful lesson. I was taking his survey of Russian lit course spring of sophomore year and started skipping class because I was staying up late the night before to work on the student newspaper and make sure it got out to the publisher (I was the Arts & Entertainment editor). Stanley invited me for a meeting and reminded me that my primary job is school, not the newspaper. I never missed a class after that. He was kind, but firm. I repeat this story a lot to Harvard professors who don't know how to effectively reign in rogue students. 
  2. I was one of the Senior Assembly speakers in 2010 and after my speech, Stanley came up to me and shrieked, 鈥淩obyn, I had no idea how f***d up you are!!鈥 One of my all-time favorite compliments. I tell this story at least 10 times a year. Stanley was a gem.

Max Kaisler 鈥11:

In the vast forgetfulness that wreathes my memories of Amherst, reminiscences of Rabinowitz鈥擨 dare not call him Stanley鈥攍eap out in sharp, delightful detail. Whether encountered in the theatrical, velvet arena of Converse Hall, which I think figured to me as his natural environment, or met in passing across the quad, he possessed an extraordinary talent for making one feel like a 鈥減layer鈥 in the adventures of literature and everyday life. I remember crossing the quad one winter afternoon with a plate of cupcakes I鈥檇 baked and frosted in the shape of human hearts. I don鈥檛 know now why I鈥檇 made these cupcakes鈥攊t was one of many incomprehensible activities into which I poured my energy in college, but at the time, bearing the cupcakes aloft, I felt like a great good spirit of trivial offices. Enter Rabinowitz, walking at a diagonal. Struck by an idea, I approached him with the words 鈥渨ould you like鈥斺 on my lips. He cut me off. 鈥淲hat is this? a cupcake? What are you trying to do? poison me?鈥 It was such a departure from the niceties I鈥檇 received from the prior cupcake recipients, that I stood there stupidly for a moment before hastening to assure him that others had taken of, and survived, the suspect gift. After much persuasion he relented, accepted the baked good with the expression of Socrates taking up his hemlock, and darted off with surprising speed. Ever after this incident, Rabinowitz referred to me as the thwarted assassin, the peddler of criminally indigestible cupcakes鈥攁 distinction that filled me with a pleasant mixture of pride, amusement, and a little embarrassment. It was all a part of the magical way in which daily life shed its monotonous aspect in Rabinowitz鈥檚 presence; he had the unmistakable charisma of Don Rickles, Peter Lorre, or Zero Mostel, which could disarm anyone through its sheer abundance of energy and, at the same time, he clearly possessed a profound affinity with weird, 鈥榰nwell,鈥 socially inept types, among which I number myself. I will never forget his lecture on the death of Svidrigailov. In the midst of the hilarity that characterized his classroom鈥攈e seemed to know that most students鈥 interest in any text was contingent on their enjoyment of his antic in-class performance鈥攈e still held the ability to summon, at a moment鈥檚 notice, the gravity of a sacred office. I remember the silence in the vast hall as we listened to him describe the crack on the wall of Svidrigailov鈥檚 apartment, the drip of the water from the ceiling, as though he were detailing the scene of a fresh crime.

Ben Boatwright 鈥14:

I had Prof. Rabinowitz for second and third year Russian in 2012-2013. He would often declare that he was 鈥溞残把 褍胁邪卸邪械屑褘泄 锌褉芯褎械褋褋芯褉!鈥 which translates to 鈥測our most esteemed professor!鈥 That little phrase really encapsulates the wit and humor that he brought to his classes, and a decade later I can still hear the exact inflection he would have used. Prof. Rabinowitz was also single-handedly responsible for pulling together department funds for me to study abroad in St. Petersburg, which was a transformative experience for me. As I鈥檝e told my former classmates, we owe him a great deal. 

Nica Siegel 鈥14:

鈥淗ow is your Russian major going?鈥
鈥淲ell, Professor, I don't read Russian.鈥
鈥淣obody's perfect, Nica.鈥

In this way, Professor Rabinowitz endured my decision to study law and politics with warm, dramatic ill-grace. But I crossed a line when I announced to him my preference for the bookish landowner Levin over the romantic hero of our course, Anna Karenina. 鈥淒on't you try to tell me that you're better in the real world than the fictional world, Nica! I won't believe it for a second!鈥 Read thus, in his inimitable way, Professor Rabinowitz encouraged me to keep inhabiting the tensions that have motivated my intellectual and personal life, helping me to stay tuned in, through the grind of completing my dissertation, to the inexhaustibly theatrical dimensions of modern political transformation. As a professor at the College, I feel his influence and presence in the rooms where he taught, and I send my deepest condolences to the many colleagues and students who are grieving his loss. 

Kelvin Chen 鈥16:

Thank you for soliciting alumni stories in the wake of Professor Rabinowitz's passing. Prof. Rabinowitz's charisma and energy in the classroom was inimitable; his loss will truly be missed by the Amherst community at large. I was fortunate to enroll in his flagship course for non-majors, 鈥淪trange Russian Writers鈥 in spring 2015. During that semester, I had the opportunity to deepen my relationship to Prof. Rabinowitz through visits to office hours and many, many memorable strolls around campus.

The vignette that I wanted to share took place the summer of 2015, during a visit I made to campus to see friends (and professors) before embarking on my fall semester abroad to Polynesia. After a characteristically amusing office conversation with Prof. Rabinowitz鈥攑robably about the topic we always seemed to converse about, my infatuation with nature, and what exotic biota I expected to encounter during my upcoming voyage through the maritime wilderness of the tropical South Pacific鈥擨 informed him that I should head off to catch my bus in town. Prof. Rabinowitz asked me if I knew where the Peter Pan bus stopped, and I said I did not.

After describing the location (S. Pleasant St., across from the Town Common) to me, I rushed there with my luggage, grateful for his guidance. A few minutes after getting to the stop, shortly before the bus, already in view, was about to reach me, I saw Prof. Rabinowitz strolling leisurely toward across the Common, cane in hand. (The thought of how he was able to comfortably wear a suit on a hot and humid summer day also crossed my mind.) He had, much to my surprise, come from his office in Webster Hall to check whether or not I had found the correct place to wait. When he saw that I had, he waved his hand in the air and exclaimed something to the effect of 鈥渂on voyage!鈥 and reminded me that for all the love I had for wild places, when I eventually became tired of eating peanut butter and canned tuna, I could make my way back to Amherst for my senior spring, and鈥攊n the comfort and luxury of civilized space鈥攔ecount the adventure to him.

Shortly after boarding, the bus started to move, and as I glanced out the window toward the Common, I saw Prof. Rabinowitz silently waving at me (the bus), wishing me farewell on my upcoming voyage. It would be the first time in three years that I would be away from Amherst for an extended period of time, and although I never admitted it, I was feeling a little apprehensive to be leaving my home. Prof. Rabinowitz's kind gesture moved me deeply. It felt as if the spirit of Amherst itself was blessing my voyage as I departed for the unknown austral world. There I was, beginning to sweat in the unairconditioned bus on a hot August afternoon, merely another college student among the millions nationwide, yet my professor had voluntarily left his office to send me off at the bus stop. That special moment continues to stand out to me nearly a decade later, and whenever I walk past the bus stop (during reunion or other campus visits), I can't help but remember Prof. Rabinowitz standing there with his cane, waving enthusiastically, like it was yesterday. If I find myself teaching in the future, I hope to be able to gift my students the same exceptional warmth and extrafamilial love that Prof. Rabinowitz generously endowed upon me on that eternal summer day in 2015.

Becky Danning 鈥16:

I took Strange Russian Writers with Professor Rabinowitz in my senior year and was always delighted to run into him in the wild on the streets of Cambridge after graduating. It always felt like an encounter with an oracle: he invariably knew exactly who I was and what I had been up to, regardless of how much time had elapsed. Even though I had known by reputation and experience that he kept an impeccable mental encyclopedia of all of his former students, it was always gratifying to know I had made it into his catalog. I will think of him every time I pass Bottega Fiorentina in Brookline or try to explain The Master and Margarita to a bewildered and cornered audience.

Jeremy Kesselhaut 鈥16:

I arrived at Amherst in the fall of 2012 and the first week of school I went to my mailbox in the Keefe Campus Center. I was surprised to see a letter from a professor when I hadn鈥檛 yet attended any classes! The note welcomed me to the Amherst community, offered support and guidance including a standing invitation to attend office hours whenever I wanted, and included a reference to how the professor adored my late father, Glenn Kesselhaut (Amherst class of 1978), who passed away in 2001, and would be there for me. My mom had told me how much my dad had cherished taking courses with and befriending Professor Rabinowitz and I now understood why: he was the embodiment of the Amherst community and cared so much for his students viewing them more likely family than like students. After he served as my academic advisor for while at Amherst and I was fortunate enough to take his 鈥淪trange Russian Writers鈥 course, in which he knew everyone鈥檚 zip code and high school before they knew the syllabus, I saw what an excellent professor he was, how much he cared about education, teaching and development, and how he went above his job description. While my first interaction with Professor Rabinowitz was followed by many others of similar demonstrations of compassion, him sharing this note with me before I got the chance to meet him was so representative of the person he was.

Pascual Cortes-Monroy 鈥17:

On the first day of our Strange Russian Writers class, Professor Rabinowitz paced the room, pointing at students as they took a seat, rattling off their full names, postal codes, and respective high schools in his characteristically frenetic style. I was not spared; and adding to my astonishment, he addressed me in Spanish. We had never met, yet he committed all of these facts, and as I would learn over the years, so many others, to his prodigious memory.

The impression he left on me that day only strengthened over the years as he became a teacher, mentor and friend. Stanley Rabinowitz was that professor you wish everyone met: who cared deeply and left an indelible mark on generations of students through his magnetic wit and kindness, and who so generously and persuasively shared his love for literature and the world.

I had the opportunity to speak with him only a few months ago, which I feel very grateful for. Before hanging up he asked, as he usually did at the end of a conversation, shouting, 鈥溌縏煤 me quieres?鈥. I said to him then, as I say to him now, 隆S铆, Profesor!


Class of 2020

Jonah Davis 鈥20E:

After I came back home to New Jersey from Amherst, I decided I wanted to look into graduate school. I reached out to Prof. Rabinowitz for a letter of recommendation. I had a lengthy phone conversation with him, detailing my plans and ambitions. He asked me several questions and gave me lots of encouragement. The one thing that I remember from that conversation, and will remember for the rest of my life, was a certain statement he remarked. He told me鈥攁nd I鈥檓 paraphrasing鈥攖hat 鈥淲hether you practice a religion or not, the one thing my mother always told me was that God is always listening.鈥 I remember this specific memory because, throughout hard times in my life post-Amherst, Prof. Rabinowitz鈥檚 comment made me feel as though my thoughts and petitions are not in vain. Regardless of your religious identity, if you even have one, the universe is always listening to you.

Ross Hirzel 鈥20:

I have a couple stories, but nothing super crazy. I was a Russian major so I ran into him a lot and took a couple classes with him. One of my most vivid memories is of running into him on B level of Frost, which, as far as I remember, was supposed to be totally silent. He was wandering around looking for books at random and noticed me studying. He proceeded to have an extremely loud (I don鈥檛 think he had any other volume level) conversation with me about my future in the field and where I might go for grad school. This drew irritated looks from students studying around us, which I鈥檓 sure he got a kick out of (if he noticed them). He also always referred to me as 鈥淐alifornia Cool鈥 and I鈥檓 fairly confident that he subsequently forgot my actual name and only remembered the nickname he had made up, which I found hilarious.

Lauren Knight 鈥20:

I had the pleasure of taking Professor Rabinowitz鈥檚 鈥淪trange Russian Writers鈥 course my sophomore year. His Amherst legendary status preceded the character before me. His passion was apparent from the first day. He brought his mastery to lively class discussions that anyone could join in no matter their literary prowess. It was one of the classes I took where I sat amongst the widest range of class years and majors. As an English and Economics double major, I loved the simple yet classic structure of his class: read a Russian literary classic, discuss it in class, write a paper. I think this was part of what drew non-English majors to consider taking a class with literary grounding, including my friend who sat next to me in class who was an Art and Computer Science double major. 

Not only did his class transcend majors but it transcended generations. My dad (Class of 鈥85) spoke highly of Rabinowitz, remembering in awe how he could recite your name and major when he greeted you on campus. The truly remarkable thing was when I went to office hours and relayed how much my dad liked his class, Rabinowitz went into his files to look up my dad (I think he must鈥檝e referenced past grades he鈥檇 submitted). My dad got an unremarkable B of some sort, I remember Stanley saying he didn鈥檛 think he spoke up in class like I did. I think this speaks to one of the greatest powers of Amherst professors like Stanley and their ability to make us feel special long after our time at Amherst. I know campus won鈥檛 be the same without Stanley Rabinowitz: a uniting force for students separated by 34 class years and a phenomenal educator who it was an honor to learn from.


Photographs by Rob Mattson and Noah Loving