Confronting Hate

By :  Library of the Jewish Theological Seminary Posted On Oct 24, 2019 | Author Conversations: Between the Lines | Interreligious Social Justice

As hate crimes and domestic terrorism dominate the headlines, the legacy of the late Rabbi Marc Tanenbaum as a leader in interfaith and race relations in the United States and around the world becomes more and more relevant with each atrocity that is perpetrated in the name of racial purity, religion and rectitude. 

His widow, humanitarian and philanthropist Dr. Georgette Bennett, discusses the first-ever biography of Rabbi Tanenbaum, Confronting HateThe Untold Story of the Rabbi Who Stood Up for Human Rights, Racial Justice and Religious Reconciliation by Deborah Hart Strober and Gerald S. Strober. 

From his position as director of Interreligious Affairs at the American Jewish Committee, Rabbi Tanenbaum was deeply involved in the historic Vatican II Council, which promulgated a landmark encyclical on Catholic-Jewish relations. Rabbi Tanenbaum also was one of the few Jewish leaders who worked closely with Martin Luther King Jr. and Jesse Jackson, Reverend Billy Graham and other evangelical leaders. Inspired by his tradition’s ethic of social justice, he worked tirelessly as a civil rights activist and helped lead the Soviet Jewry liberation movement.

Confronting Hate details Rabbi Tanenbaum’s remarkable career and interactions with civil rights legends such as Martin Luther King Jr. and Jesse Jackson as well as several US presidents, from Dwight D. Eisenhower to George H.W. Bush. Above all, its authors bring to light the immense international influence and relevance that Rabbi Tanenbaum has for today’s world, more than twenty-five years after his passing. Indeed, at a time when our world is riven by conflict, partisanship and hate, the lessons of his life could not be more timely.   

This event was co-sponsored by The JTS Library, the Milstein Center for Interreligious Dialogue, and the New York Board of Rabbis. Dr. Burton Visotzky, Appleman Professor of Midrash and Interreligious Studies and director of the Milstein Center for Interreligious Dialogue, JTS, served as moderator.

Dr. Georgette Bennett is a humanitarian and philanthropist who focuses on conflict resolution and intergroup relations. In 1992, she founded the Tanenbaum Center for Interreligious Understanding to carry on the work of her late husband, Rabbi Marc H. Tanenbaum. She currently serves as chair of the Jewish Funders Network, is a trustee of the Polonsky Foundation in London, a board member of Third Way, treasurer and founding board member of Global Covenant Partners, and an overseer of the International Rescue Committee. In 2013, she founded the Multifaith Alliance for Syrian Refugees and has since worked to mobilize support, including the delivery of more than $130 million of humanitarian aid into Syria and surrounding refugee camps. Georgette has received numerous honors, including the Global Impact Award from the Society for International Development (Israel), Leadership Award from the New York Board of Rabbis, the Interfaith Gold Medallion from the International Council of Christians and Jews, and the Distinguished Service Award from the New York City Comptroller’s office.