MAY 2006

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Rabbi Arthur Hertzberg 

Rabbi Arthur Hertzberg: 1921-2006

(JSPAN) We honor the memory of Rabbi Arthur Hertzberg, a crusader and scholar dedicated to the advancement of the Jewish people and Israel, who died on April 17 at the age of 84. 

Rabbi Hertzberg lived the cause of love for his fellow man, always fighting to assist the needy and downtrodden, always advancing the liberal credo that we are each our brothers? keeper, that we can and should fight for justice and to relieve suffering. Rabbi Hertzberg came to the United States from Poland as a child in a family of learned Hassidic rabbis. He was ordained in the Conservative movement by The Jewish Theological Seminary. Starting from a post as director of a Hillel chapter at Amherst, he advanced to pulpits in Philadelphia and Nashville and did service in the Air Force chaplaincy. Hertzberg became the rabbi of the respected Temple Emanu-El in Englewood, New Jersey.

Rabbi Hertzberg was an outstanding scholar, credited with writing a dozen books and innumerable articles during his rabbinate and throughout his career. His writings address the issues that confront Jews and Judaism in the real world, in our times; they express the concept of an evolving religion that always maintains its relevance. Rabbi Hertzberg was an activist as well, marching with Dr. Martin Luther King in Washington in 1963, challenging the Vatican to explain its silence during the years of the Holocaust, urging the Jewish state to recognize the claim of Palestinians to a homeland, and always ready to lead his fellow Jews into action in pursuit of the moral course. In recognition of his leadership, Hertzberg rose to the highest offices in the American Jewish Congress and the World Jewish Congress. 

Throughout his life, Rabbi Hertzberg expressed the ideals to which we aspire: the advancement of justice and mercy, with total commitment both to the highest morality and to meaningful citizen action. Many of us have benefited from the opportunity to see and hear him in action, and all of us can gather wisdom from his writings. We particularly recommend that readers who have not done so acquire and read The French Enlightenment and the Jews, and The Zionist Idea --- possibly Rabbi Hertzberg's two most important scholarly works. 

We will remember his immense dedication and achievements! 

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