March 13, 2018 — New York
AJC, the global Jewish advocacy organization, mourns the passing of its former Los Angeles director, Neil Sandberg. He was 92 years old.
“For decades, Neil Sandberg was both an exemplary leader of our Los Angeles region, and a pioneering visionary. As one notable example, he initiated our diplomatic outreach to key nations in the Asia Pacific region that today are central to AJC’s global diplomacy,” said AJC CEO David Harris. “He was also my cherished friend.”
Sandberg first joined the AJC staff in 1950 as a fundraiser, and in 1962 was named director of the AJC Los Angeles region. He became AJC Western Region Director in 1968. Sandberg was the founding director of the AJC Pacific Rim Institute (APRI) in 1989, which later was renamed the Asia Pacific Institute (API), the first of its kind in the American Jewish community. Over the past 30 years, AJC leaders have traveled regularly with API to China, Japan, South Korea, and other countries in the region.
After retiring from AJC in 1990, Sandberg remained fully engaged in the work he pioneered as a consultant and visited Pacific Rim countries, especially Japan, for AJC numerous times.
In October 2013, Sandberg was honored by the Martin Gang Institute, a shared venture of AJC Los Angeles and Loyola Marymount University, for his pioneering leadership in promoting mutual understanding and dialogue between religious and ethnic communities in Southern California.
“Neil was the consummate professional, my mentor, my friend,” said AJC Honorary President Bruce Ramer, who lives in Los Angeles. “Neil made a difference. He led without looking over his shoulder, as he knew he would be followed. He was respected and admired throughout the community, both general and Jewish. Beloved by all, he will be remembered, treasured, and missed.”
In Los Angeles, Sandberg was very active in interreligious and intergroup relations. He received the Dr. Max W. Bay Memorial Award from the National Conference of Christians and Jews, Southern California Region.
He also taught several courses at Loyola Marymount University and authored a number of books, including “Ethnic Identity and Assimilation: The Polish-American Community, Case Study of Metropolitan Los Angeles” (1974) and “Jewish Life in Los Angeles” (1986).