Rabbi David Aronson, the former religious leader of Beth El Synagogue in Minnesota and considered one of the leading rabbis in the nation, has died after a short illness. He was 96.

After his ordination in 1919, Aronson served congregations in Salt Lake City and Duluth, Minn."He was one of the leading rabbis, nationally, in the last 60 years," said Rabbi Kassel Abelson, Aronson's successor at Beth El in the Minneapolis suburb of St. Louis Park.

Aronson was born in Russia in 1892 and grew up in New York.

From 1948 to 1950, he was president of the Rabbinical Assembly of America, the first rabbi who didn't live in the eastern United States to head the assembly of 1,200 Conservative Rabbis.

After his retirement, Aronson taught at the University of Judaism in Los Angeles and lectured at the Jewish Theological Seminary.