Austrian Chancellor Unites with Vienna-born
Holocaust Survivor Rabbi Arthur Schneier

“Sebastian Kurz, the young, dynamic Chancellor of Austria, an important leader of the European Union, has taken a leading role in combating the virus of global anti-Semitism and has been a supporter of peace and security for the State of Israel,” said Rabbi Arthur Schneier, Vienna-born Holocaust survivor, Senior Rabbi of Park East Synagogue and President of the Appeal of Conscience Foundation.

“As a Holocaust survivor who had to flee my birthplace, Vienna, after witnessing the burning of my synagogue on Kristallnacht, it is heartening to see Chancellor Kurz, who represents the next generation, and has zero-tolerance for anti-Semitism and any form of bigotry while fostering mutual respect among all God’s children. Chancellor Kurz’s generation was spared the horrors of the Holocaust and WWII. He is helping to remember the past for the sake of a better future. His presence at Park East Synagogue, the first for a Chancellor of Austria, is indicative of his commitment to protect all Houses of Worship.”

“Chancellor Kurz embodies the values of religious freedom, human rights and peaceful coexistence, the core principles of the interfaith Appeal of Conscience Foundation.”

NYPD Commissioner Shea and FBI Assistant Director Sweeney Speak Out Against Anti-Semitic Crimes During Shabbat Visit to Park East Synagogue

NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea, and William F. Sweeney, Jr., Assistant Director in charge of the FBI’s New York Field Office, addressed the increase in anti-Semitic hate crimes in New York when they spoke to congregants at Park East Synagogue at Shabbat services on Saturday, June 26th.

“As a Holocaust Survivor, I am distraught by the widespread virus of anti-Semitism and the increase of hate crimes directed at the Jewish community,” said Park East Synagogue Senior Rabbi, Arthur Schneier. “Unlike what I witnessed more than eighty years ago I am grateful that those responsible for protecting all citizens are standing with Jewish New Yorkers and are committed that anti-Semitic acts will not be tolerated and the perpetrators of those crimes will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

The NYPD has never, and will never, tolerate hate in our city in any form,” Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said. “One incident is one too many, and the recent rise in anti-Semitic crimes only strengthens our resolve to work hand-in-hand with our Jewish communities across the five boroughs. As we combat all forms of prejudice, we will continue to build trust and strengthen relationships to ensure that everyone, in every New York City neighborhood, is safe – and that they feel safe, too.”

“Hate crimes have no place in our society,” stated William Sweeney, Assistant Director in charge of the FBI’s New York Field Office. “Everyone needs to know that they can help us confront new and emerging threats by sharing information through the trusting relationships we share, to include our close relationship with the NYPD. Working with the communities we serve helps us fully appreciate your needs and maintain awareness of the challenges you face.”  

###

Rabbi Arthur Schneier on United Nations “Awake at Night” Podcast

Rabbi Arthur Schneier appeared on the United Nations “Awake at Night” podcast, hosted by  Melissa Fleming, the United Nations’ Under-Secretary-General for Global Communications.

In the interview, Rabbi Schneier shares his experience as a Holocaust survivor who, after emigrating to the United States in 1049, has devoted his life to interreligious understanding, peace and human rights, as both Senior Rabbi at Park East Synagogue and the Founder and President of the Appeal of Conscience Foundation. He discusses his work as Deputy Permanent Representative for the United Nations General Assembly, his concerns about technology and the resurgence of anti-Semitism, and his hopes for the future.

Click here to listen to the episode.

Park East Synagogue and RASPEDS Annual Dinner 2021

On June 8, 2021, the Park East Synagogue and Rabbi Arthur Schneier Park East Day School communities gathered to celebrate at the Annual Dinner at Park East Synagogue.

Rabbi Arthur Schneier opened the program with a reflection on the community’s perseverance amid the COVID-19 pandemic and shared a message of optimism, stating, “The prescription for the year ahead: be confident and don’t give up. Because the impossible is possible.” 

Israel Nitzan, Acting Consul General of the state of Israel, addressed the Park East community and underscored the need for public officials to continue to combat anti-Semitism. Senator Chuck Schumer, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney and Ambassador Gilad Erdan, Permanent Representative of Israel to the United Nations and Israel’s Ambassador to the United States, joined the celebration virtually, sharing their well wishes for the honorees.

S. Daniel Abraham was honored with the Humantarian Award and as Patron of Higher and Jewish Education in the United States and Israel. Lindsey Dresbach, granddaughter of Rabbi Arthur Schneier, accepted the award on Mr. Abraham’s behalf.

Lindsey Dresbach and Rabbi Arthur Schneier
Lindsey Dresbach accepts the Humanitarian Award on behalf of S. Daniel Abraham.

Dayna Langfan and Lawrence Heller were honored with the L’Dor V’Dor Award for Jewish Continuity and Education.

Dayna Langfan and Lawrence Heller with Rabbi Arthur Schneier and Herman Hochberg

Rebecca and David Zwillinger were honored as Patrons of Education. 

David and Rebecca Zwillinger with Rabbi Arthur Schneier

The teachers of the Rabbi Arthur Schneier Park East Day School were honored collectively as educators of the year for their commitment to their students, particularly amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

View the video highlights from the 2021 Annual Dinner.

View the photo gallery:

Photography by Heidi Green.

Rabbi Arthur Schneier Addresses United Nations Alliance of Civilizations on Combating Anti-Semitism

On Monday, March 15, 2021, Rabbi Arthur Schneier delivered a special address to the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC) at their meeting on Exploring Holistic Approaches to Combating Anti-Semitism

Following an introduction by High Representative Miguel Moratinos, Rabbi Schneier, who serves as UNAOC Goodwill Ambassador, reflected on his experience as a Holocaust survivor and highlighted the prevalence of anti-Semitism today. “Anti-Semitism has survived millennia because it constantly adapts… United, we must rise to counter its latest form,” he stated, pointing to the spread of hatred on social media and digital platforms and highlighting the need for greater governance.  

Rabbi Schneier recognized the hero diplomats who risked their lives to save Jews during the Holocaust, and acknowledged the United Nations for its 2008 resolution, adopted by 120 countries, to observe International Holocaust Remembrance Day each year on January 27. 

Closing with a blessing for a joyful and peaceful Easter and Passover holiday, he said, “May they usher in healing for a wounded world and a divided humanity. And, united, we will prevail.” 

Rabbi Schneier’s remarks can be viewed at the 18:28 mark in the video below.

Park East Synagogue and United Nations Host International Holocaust Remembrance Virtual Service

Park East Synagogue and the United Nations hosted an International Holocaust Remembrance virtual service marking the 76th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz on January 25, 2021. UN Secretary-General António Guterres and Rabbi Arthur Schneier, Senior Rabbi at Park East Synagogue and founder and President of the Appeal of Conscience foundation, delivered remarks. The service included music by Chief Cantor Yitzchak Meir Helfgot, Cantor Benny Rogosnitzky and the Park East Synagogue Choir, led by Conductor Maestro Russell Ger, and the participation of students at Rabbi Arthur Schneier Park East Day School and the UN diplomatic corps.

Rabbi Arthur Schneier pointed to the rise of hate and anti-Semitism in the world today and underscored the importance of Holocaust education in schools, stating, “Children are not born with hatred. They are taught how to hate. When infected, they become carriers of hatred. The antidote is education, education, education.

In his remarks, UN Secretary-General António Guterres encouraged “coordinated global action, on the scale of the threat we face, to build an alliance against the growth and spread of neo-Nazism and white supremacy, and to fight propaganda and disinformation… Prevention is key to the fight against anti-Semitism, and I sincerely thank Rabbi Schneier and all those who work with and for the Appeal of Conscience Foundation for their efforts to promote interfaith understanding.”

International Holocaust Remembrance Day: A Survivor’s Plea

by Rabbi Arthur Schneier

The urgency of purpose that spurred the establishment of the International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust 15 years ago is more manifest than ever. In our time of societal, economic and political upheaval, demonization of “the Other”, anti-Semitism, xenophobia, and racism are flourishing.

On 24 January 2005, I was humbled to be asked by the Permanent Mission of Israel to the United Nations, and with special permission from then Secretary-General Kofi Annan, to recite Kaddish—the mourner’s prayer—at the opening of “Auschwitz: The Depth of the Abyss”, an exhibition of photos and sketches depicting scenes from that hell on Earth. I scoured the display in hope and fear, thinking I might find my own grandparents among the doomed souls deported from Hungary who perished at Auschwitz.

Read the full article as published in the UN Chronicle.

Download the full article.

Rabbi Arthur Schneier is Senior Rabbi, Park East Synagogue; Founder and President of the Appeal of Conscience Foundation; Former United States Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations General Assembly; and Member of the High-Level Group and Ambassador of the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations.

Rabbi Arthur Schneier Honored by Dohány Street Synagogue in Hungary for 90th Birthday

October 28, 2020 – Rabbi Arthur Schneier will be honored today by Dohány Street Synagogue in Budapest, Hungary, with a plaque celebrating his 90th birthday and his support of Hungarian Jewry. The award, presented by Dr. Róbert Frölich, Chief Rabbi of the Dohány Street Synagogue, recognizes Rabbi Schneier’s decades of leadership on behalf of religious freedom, human rights and tolerance. United States Ambassador to Hungary David B. Cornstein, a member of Park East Synagogue, will accept the honor on Schneier’s behalf.

Born in Vienna, Austria and raised in Hungary, Rabbi Schneier, a Holocaust survivor, has served as Senior Rabbi at Park East Synagogue in New York for more than 50 years. He is the founder of the Appeal of Conscience Foundation, an interfaith coalition of business and religious leaders that promotes peace, inter-religious cooperation and ethnic conflict resolution.

About Park East Synagogue

Founded in 1888, Park East Synagogue is an historic New York City landmark house of worship and one of the nation’s leading modern Orthodox congregations. It plays a vital role in the cultural, civic and spiritual life of New York City. The Synagogue is dedicated to providing the opportunity for spiritual growth, Jewish education and spiritual comfort for individuals, families, and our community. Park East Synagogue is inclusive of all people seeking a meaningful Jewish life, regardless of degree of observance, knowledge of Jewish tradition, age, or affiliation.

Park East Synagogue is committed to providing inspiring Jewish and general studies education to children and to adults; its Religious School, Early Childhood, and Day School with its emphasis on cultivating a Jewish life rich in tradition and unrivaled in general studies has been, and continues to be, a source of character and vitality for its congregation. The synagogue’s influence, strength and dynamism in the community derive from the members of our congregation. We value and honor the role our congregants fulfill in defining and shaping our future and that of the Jewish community, in New York City and beyond. Visit parkeastsynagogue.org

Rabbi Arthur Schneier will be the recipient of the Doctor of Humane Letters degree

We are pleased that Rabbi Arthur Schneier will be the recipient of the Doctor of Humane Letters degree for his leadership on behalf of religious freedom, human rights, and peaceful coexistence.
_________________

Two extraordinary men who have spent their lives fighting malevolent forces that have destroyed so many other lives will be the speakers at the University of Miami’s fall commencement exercises on Thursday, Dec. 12, when more than 1,100 students cross the Watsco Center stage for their degrees.

Dr. Rodrigo Guerrero-Velasco, a Colombian epidemiologist, academician, and policymaker who pioneered a data-driven approach to combating urban violence, will address more than 550 students at the 10 a.m. undergraduate ceremony. Rabbi Arthur Schneier, a Holocaust survivor who founded the Appeal of Conscience Foundation to promote tolerance, religious freedom, and human rights around the world, will share his advice with more than 560 doctoral and master’s students at the 2 p.m. graduate degree ceremony.

Stemming a global wave of anti-Semitism

Stemming a global wave of anti-Semitism

As a Vienna-born Holocaust survivor, I recently accepted the invitation of the Austrian Parliament President, Wolfgang Sobotka, to give the keynote address on the 80th Anniversary of Kristallnacht. It was an emotional return to my boyhood hometown, where I first experienced the horrors of anti-Semitism. But it was also painful, knowing that this cancer has reappeared and become widespread.

It brought back memories of November 10, 1938, when I watched indifferent police and firefighters stand by as my synagogue, the Polnische Tempel in Vienna, burned to the ground. Heinrich Heine, the German-Jewish poet, spoke as a prophet when he said, “Where books are burned, in the end humans will be burned, too.” My experience taught me that those who burn books, dehumanize Jews, and burn synagogues would burn human beings in the crematoria of Auschwitz, my family’s graveyard.

I witnessed SS and SA troops vandalize and plunder the apartments in our building. The next morning, on my way to school, I saw Jewish men lined up in front of the Ministry of Defense building, waiting for their deportation to the concentration camps at Dachau and Buchenwald. Some never returned.

With the Anschluss on March 12, 1938, a few days before my eighth birthday, my beautiful Viennese childhood world collapsed. Soon, the city was decked out in swastika flags. Seemingly overnight, I had become an outsider. Most of my Christian classmates shunned me. I became an “Unerwünschter,” an unwanted person in the classroom, on the football field, in the pastry shop, where “Jews and dogs are not wanted.”

I learned, for the first time, that children are not born with hatred –they are taught to hate.

After the Holocaust, I did not think that we would have to talk about anti-Semitism again. The cancer of anti-Semitism seemed to be in remission – it was no longer socially acceptable.

But now the cancer is back, and it has metastasized in Europe and in the United States, the latest manifestation in Pittsburgh. The internet has turned into a borderless space for anti-Semites to find and encourage one another.

Europe has had a tragic history for Jews: inquisition, persecution, ghettoization, pogroms, and the Holocaust. After emancipation, wherever Jews were welcome, they made a contribution to culture, science, music, medicine, and the arts, as well as to the welfare of their host country. Jews always fared better in times of stability and suffered during periods of turbulence and instability.

The current upheaval in the European Union, including the integration of immigrants, some of whom have been indoctrinated with hatred for Jews, threatens the safety and security of Jews in many European countries and has stimulated the rise of anti-Semitism.

Europe’s peaceful and prosperous future is linked to a Europe free of anti-Semitism and camouflaged anti-Zionism.  In an encouraging sign, some world leaders recognize that and are no longer silent. German Chancellor Angela Merkel recently stood in a Berlin synagogue and condemned a troubling resurgence of anti-Semitism in her country. She warned that even a subtle erosion of vigilance against hatred can allow it to take root anew. The same day, French Prime Minister Edouard Phillippe cautioned that anti-Semitic incidents had increased nearly 70 percent this year.

It is also encouraging to see the youngest European Head of State making it a priority to combat this plague. Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, currently serving as the President of the Council of the European Union, convened a high-level conference this month to explore how to combat an alarming rise in anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism across Europe.  The conference is a clarion call to action.

The scourge of anti-Semitism is like a genie out of the bottle: we can’t undo it, but we can hope to contain it while we try to prevent the poisoning of the current generation.

Let’s be clear: anti-Semitism not only victimizes Jews, it’s an indicator of how a society treats other religious, ethnic and racial minorities. Anti-Semitism is a hate crime perpetrated by those who want to erase the dignity and values of each and every human being. It is the fodder for violence against humanity, culminating in crimes of racism and xenophobia, its natural mutations.

In the Book of Leviticus it is said: “neither shalt thou stand idly by the blood of thy neighbor.” Silence is not the answer. It only encourages the perpetrators and demands a high toll in the end. We must isolate the perpetrators who incite hatred and conflict and reject peaceful co-existence.

We can learn from this that disunity and division, hatred and discord are the false answers to the many questions that living together in a society ask from us.  We have to win over the silent majority – and shake them awake. I am convinced that the silent majority wants peaceful coexistence in mutual respect.

In Europe, government alone cannot stem the scourge of anti-Semitism; this work requires coalitions of business and religious leaders, intellectuals and educators. Every nation should be encouraged to designate an official whose sole task is to coordinate efforts to stem hatred and encourage a sense of common humanity.

In education, we should adopt policies on Holocaust education and curricula that includes not just tolerance of the “other,” but mutual understanding, respect, and acceptance of the “other.”

“And you shall teach them to your children and speak of them,” says Deuteronomy 6:7. Teaching “love your neighbor as yourself,” and a transmission of the democratic values are the cornerstone of the civilized world. Maybe, in classrooms of diverse peers, the children and grandchildren of those subsumed by hate will learn why hate leads nowhere. Hate has never built anything.

Let us work together with clear commitment: Never again.

Let us resist man’s inhumanity to man. Our common destiny requires us to develop bonds of common humanity. United we prevail, divided we fail. We cannot change the past, we must remember and learn from it; today, we can shape the future for our children and grandchildren, a future of peace, freedom and democracy.

BY RABBI ARTHUR SCHNEIER, for The Hill — 

Rabbi Arthur Schneier is president and founder of the Appeal of Conscience Foundation and senior rabbi of Park East Synagogue in New York.

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD PDF