Retired Princeton University Rabbi Killed in Riverside Drive Crash

pmbStringingThePearlsJames Diamond, 74, the retired director of Princeton University’s Center for Jewish Life, died as a result of injuries after he was struck while entering a Toyota Prius on Riverside Drive this morning.

Eric Maltz, 20, of Princeton was driving a BMW at a high speed, heading southbound on Riverside Drive, when he hit an unoccupied Toyota Camry that was parked on the northbound side of the road, police said.

The impact with the 2003 BMW pushed the Camry backward almost 1,000 feet down the road, police said. The Prius, which was also parked along the curb line, was pushed along with it, and landed across the street, its back end striking a tree. The Prius was occupied by the driver, Rabbi Robert Freedman, 63, of Princeton.

Diamond was entering the passenger side of the Prius at the time of the collision. He was thrown from car area because of the impact. When police and rescue workers arrived on the scene just after 9:40 a.m., they found him on the ground and he was unresponsive. Liifesaving efforts were started immediately. He died at the scene.

Maltz and Freedman were taken to an area trauma center to be treated for their injuries.

The crash remains under investigation by Patrolman Judd Petrone, with assistance from the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office. The Princeton First Aid & Rescue and Princeton Fire Department assisted at the scene.  No charges have been made in the case yet, pending the completion of an initial investigation.

Diamond, beloved by many in the Princeton community, served as the executive director of the Center for Jewish Life at Princeton University for nine years. He was appointed the first full-time director  in 1995, two years after the Center’s opening. He retired in 2003, but continued to teach part time at the University. Diamond, a Conservative rabbi, was admired by students and faculty for his efforts to bring different Jewish denominations together at Princeton.

The funeral service for Diamond is scheduled for Sunday at 1 p.m. at the Jewish Center in Princeton. Following the service he will be buried at the Washington Cemetery in Monmouth Junction.


  1. Having worked as Rabbi Diamond’s assistant for many years, I can honestly say that he was one of the most dynamic, loving, and wonderful people anyone could have known. This is truly a sad day. My sympathy and love to Judy and the children and grandchildren.

  2. How very said. He was the CJL rabbi when I was there. Baruch Dayan Emet. Zichrono Livrachah.

  3. Baruch Dayan Emet, what a great neshama he was. He touched my life in many ways when he was the Hillel Director at Indiana University in Bloomington Indiana. He and his family included me in their life for 2 years while I was in graduate school and so far away from home and family(Norfolk VA). I send my deepest sympathies to his family who I remember as very little children and his beautiful wife Judy.. May you be comforted among the mourners of Tzion and know no more sorrow. May the multitudes of students he touched througout his career be an aliyah to his neshama.
    Ronda Kruger Israel,
    Modi’in, Israel

  4. I worked with Rabbi Diamond at the Center for Jewish Life beginning in 1995. It was the first year for both of us, although I was a recent college graduate beginning life in the Hillel world and he had been around for several decades. I learned an incredible amount from him — including how to express my love of Jewish tradition through informal education.

    He was a true mensch. He will be missed.

  5. I remember Rabbi Diamond from his days at the Washington University Hillel in St. Louis when I was a young Hillel professional at the University of Cincinnati in the early 1980s. His campus hosted Midwest Hillel Rabbis and colleagues for a professional conference I know he was well respected and well loved by his colleagues and his students. He will be greatly missed.

  6. Rabbi was at Wash U when my daughter Ann Hartman Luban was a student. He was very inspirational and provided a welcoming atmosphere for her. He always responded fondly to us especially following donations to Hillel. Thoughts and prayers to his family

  7. Rabbi Diamond was one of the rabbis that made the Washington University Hillel a safe, supportive, and wonderful place for me in the 1980s and early 90s. I have so many warm memories of him and am so sad about this. My thoughts are with his family; please know how much he meant to so many. I will always remember him.

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