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Brit Tzedek v'Shalom

Jewish Alliance for Justice and Peace


RABBI ARTHUR WASKOW – Biography


Since 1969, Rabbi Arthur Waskow has been one of the leading creators of theory, practice, and institutions for the movement for Jewish renewal. He founded and directs The Shalom Center, a North American network that draws on Jewish thought and practice as well as other spriritual traditions to seek peace, pursue justice, heal the earth, and build community.

Among his seminal works in Jewish renewal are The Freedom Seder (Holt Rinehart Winston); Godwrestling (Schocken); Seasons of Our Joy (Beacon); Down-to-Earth Judaism: Food, Money, Sex, and the Rest of Life (Morrow) ; and Godwrestling , Round Two (Jewish Lights; recipient of the Benjamin Franklin Award in 1996). With Phyllis Berman, he has written A Time for Every Puirpose Under Heaven: Walking the Spiritual Path of a Jewish Life (Farrar Straus Giroux, 2002).

He is also co-editor of Trees, Earth, & Torah: A Tu B'Shvat Anthology (Jewish Publication Society, 1999) and the editor of Torah of the Earth: Exploring 4,000 Years of Ecology in Jewish Thought (Jewish Lights, 2000; 2 vols).

In 1996, Waskow was named by the United Nations a "Wisdom Keeper" one among forty religious and intellectual leaders from around the world who met in connection with the Habitat II conference in Istanbul. In 2001, he was presented with the Abraham Joshua Heschel Award by the Jewish Peace Fellowship.

He has worked since 1969 for peace between the Israeli and Palestinian peoples, and was among those invited by the White House to take part in the signing of the Declaration of Principles by Prime Minister Rabin and Chairman Arafat in 1993. In 1997 he joined in founding Break the Silence, a network of American Jews to reawaken support for the peace process. He wrote the "Seder for the Children of Abraham, Hagar, and Sarah," published in Tikkun magazine in 1999 -- a Passover Seder focused on peace-making between Israelis and Palestinians. More recently, he worked with Rabbis for Human Rights in Israel and Break the Silence in America, to help initiate the OLIVE TREES FOR PEACE campaign, and has worked with Muslim and Christian groups and teachers toward peace in the region.

Waskow taught at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College from 1982 to 1989, and has taught as a Visiting Professor in the religion departments of Swarthmore College, Temple University, Drew University, and Vassar College. He was ordained as rabbi in 1995.

Waskow worked on disarmament and civil-rights issues as a legislative assistant for a U. S. Congressman from 1959 to 1961, and wrote The Limits of Defense with Marcus Raskin (Doubleday, l962), three other books on nuclear strategy, deterrence, and disarmament, and two books on violence and nonviolence in American social change: From Race Riot to Sit-in (Doubleday, l965) and Running Riot (Herder & Herder, l970). From 1961 to 1963 he was a Senior Fellow of the Peace Research Institute.

Then Waskow joined in founding the Institute for Policy Studies and was a Fellow there from 1963 to 1977. Through the l960s, he was active in writing, speaking, electoral politics, and nonviolent action against the Vietnam War. In 1964 he worked closely with the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party at the Democratic National Convention in Atlantic City. In 1965 he spoke at the first anti-war Teach-in (at the University of Michigan), and at many thereafter; in 1967 he was co-author of "A Call to Resist Illegitimate Authority" (urging support for those who were resisting the draft and the war); and in 1968 he was elected an anti-war delegate from the District of Columbia to the Democratic National Convention in Chicago. In 1981 and 1986, he won a lawsuit against the FBI for illegal harrassment of his anti-war work, under its COINTELPRO program.

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