JTS Launches Website Celebrating the Life and Influence of Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel  

A collection of testimonials, audio-visual materials, and writings exploring Heschel’s work and his enduring impact are included.  

January 16, 2024, New York, New York—The Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS), one of the world’s preeminent centers of Jewish higher education, launched an online platform dedicated to preserving and sharing the profound legacy of Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel. 

The immersive website provides a curated collection of materials from Heschel’s work, along with heartfelt testimonials from individuals influenced by his teachings.  

“This platform not only serves as a repository of his invaluable works but also provides a space for those who have been influenced by his teachings to share their experiences. The platform aims to ensure that Heschel’s legacy continues to inspire and resonate with audiences worldwide,” said Chancellor Shuly Rubin Schwartz. 

“During his three decades of teaching at JTS, so many have had the privilege of benefiting from Rabbi Heschel’s prodigious scholarship and the inspirational humanity reflected in his teaching and writing,” said Rabbi Gordon Tucker, JTS Vice Chancellor for Religious Life. “We are thrilled to now have a dedicated space to showcase the thoughts of those he influenced.”  

Among the 50 testimonials currently included on the platform are Orly Erez Likhovski, director of The Israel Religious Action Center; Rabbi David Wolpe, former rabbi of Sinai Temple in Los Angeles, California; and Rabbi Rolando Matalon of B’nai Jeshurun in New York. Other highlights include performers Yoni Oppenheim and Matan Daskal reflecting on how Heschel inspired their artistic works.  

Rabbi Heschel’s influence was not specific to the Jewish community. His reach and influence crossed religious, ethnic, and racial barriers. Reverend Jamie Washam, PhD, of the First Baptist Church in America in Providence, Rhode Island; Reverend Johnnie Moore from The Congress of Christian Leaders in Washington, D.C.; and Reverend Wil Gafney, PhD, The Right Rev. Sam B. Hulsey Professor of Hebrew Bible, Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, Texas, all provided moving testimonials. Each of these leaders reflect on how Heschel influenced their religious practices, ranging from taking a Sabbath to engaging in social justice to understanding the Torah. Podcaster Emelda Decateau wrote in her reflection, “Rabbi Heschel inspired me to start an online community and podcast, Pray with Our Feet, which I co-host with my mom. We highlight the intersection of progressive Christianity and social justice through interviews with ministers, activists, artists, and thinkers.” 

Some of the significant audio-visual materials include newly digitized audio of Rabbi Heschel introducing Dr. Martin Luther King at the 1968 Rabbinical Assembly Conference; a clip from Heschel’s appearance on The Eternal Light with Carl Stern; and music inspired by Heschel’s work, such as a performance by the combined choirs of The Temple and Ebeneezer Baptist Church called “Praying with Our Feet.” 

The impact of Rabbi Heschel was felt deeply and personally by JTS Chancellor Dr. Shuly Rubin Schwartz. She shared her thoughts about the influence he had on both her family and her leadership style at JTS in an op-ed in JTA. Read “When Dr. Martin Luther King and Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel taught my dad to pray with his feet” now.

Visit https://heschel.jtsa.edu today to personally experience Heschel’s broad impact and reach and to submit your own testimonial.