Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, to speak at Fairfield University

Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, to speak at Fairfield University

The Carl and Dorothy Bennett Center for Judaic Studies of the College of Arts and Sciences presents its 2006 Scholar-in-Residence Rabbi David Saperstein, the Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, during a public lecture on Wednesday, Oct. 18 at 7:30 p.m.

For 30 years, Rabbi Saperstein has been director of the Washington, D.C.-based Center, which educates the American Jewish community about legislative and social concerns, while advocating on issues of economic justice, civil rights, and religious liberty for Israel. The Washington Post called him "the quintessential religious lobbyist on Capitol Hill." He represents the national Reform Jewish Movement to Congress and the administration.

His talk, entitled "The Use and Abuse of Jewish Tradition in Contemporary Political Debates," will take place in the Oak Room, in the Barone Campus Center on the Fairfield campus. The public is invited. Admission is free, but seating is limited. Please call to register for a seat at (203) 254-4000, ext. 2066. His visit is made possible by a gift from David and Edith Chaifetz.

The lecture will focus on how Judaism has developed a powerful religious imperative, for both individuals and societies, to speak the truth to power and to strive to transform the world for the good. Rabbi Saperstein will speak to the issues of how Jewish tradition views religion's role in shaping political policies; what it says about some of the urgent and vexing moral challenges of our day; and how is it used and abused in the polemics of contemporary political debates.

Ellen M. Umansky, Ph. D., the Carl and Dorothy Bennett Professor of Judaic Studies, said that Rabbi Saperstein epitomizes the importance of living a values-centered life and making a contribution to society. "His concept of social justice is so central to our Jesuit mission. His commitment to social justice, and tireless efforts on behalf of disenfranchised people is remarkable. He has an educational component to his work where citizens learn about both sides of an issue, while also learning how to protect civil rights. He is a man whose life work should prove inspirational to our students."

During his 30 years helming the Center, Rabbi Saperstein has headed several national religious coalitions, including the Coalition to Preserve Religious Liberty, which he co-chairs. That coalition is comprised of more than 50 national religious denominations and educational organizations. He also serves on the boards of numerous national organizations, including the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and People For the American Way. He was elected as the first chair of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom in 1999. Rabbi Saperstein is also an attorney, and teaches at Georgetown University Law School.

Posted On: 09-20-2006 10:09 AM

Volume: 39 Number: 36