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

The First Ever Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom ‘Sends a Message to the World’

Rabbi Arthur Schneier who witnessed the burning of his synagogue on Kristallnacht in Vienna, on November 10, 1938 met with Nicodemus Daoud Matti Sharaf, the Metropolitan Archbishop of the Syriac Orthodox Archdiocese of Mosul and Kirkuk who’s Church was devastated by ISIS.

 

Contact:
Park East Synagogue

Teresa deWilde
212.737.6900
pemedia@pesyn.org

For Immediate Release

Rabbi Arthur Schneier Addresses the U.S. State Department’s
First-Ever Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom


New York, N.Y. (July 27, 2018)
 – Rabbi Arthur Schneier; President and Founder of the Appeal of Conscience Foundation, Senior Rabbi of Park East Synagogue, addressed the U.S. State Department’s first-ever Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom. The Ministerial included participants from eighty countries including faith leaders, foreign ministers and ambassadors who addressed the need to combat religious persecution and discrimination and to respect religious freedom for all.

“Those who burn churches, mosques, synagogues and temples will also burn human beings,” said Rabbi Arthur Schneier. “Our aim should not be tolerance but mutual respect and acceptance of each other. I don’t want to be tolerated; I don’t want to be a second-class citizen.”

Rabbi Schneier who witnessed the burning of his synagogue on Kristallnacht in Vienna, on November 10, 1938 met with Nicodemus Daoud Matti Sharaf, the Metropolitan Archbishop of the Syriac Orthodox Archdiocese of Mosul and Kirkuk who’s Church was devastated by ISIS.

Vice President Mike Pence warned of rising anti-Semitism in Europe, singling out Britain, France and Germany for increased incidents. “Last year, hate crimes against Jews hit a record high in the United Kingdom. In France and Germany, things have gotten so bad that Jewish religious leaders have warned their followers not to wear kippahs in public for fear that they could be violently attacked, and in too many cases, that’s exactly what’s happened.”

Rabbi Schneier lauded the United States efforts on behalf of Pastor Andrew Brunson, an Evangelical Presbyterian Pastor from North Carolina, who was arrested in 2016 during a government crackdown on journalists, academics, and Christian minorities.

###

About Rabbi Arthur Schneier: 
Rabbi Arthur Schneier, Senior Rabbi of Park East Synagogue in New York City and founder of its Day School, (Rabbi Arthur Schneier Park East Day School), has served this leading modern Orthodox congregation for over fifty years.  As Founder and President of the Appeal of Conscience Foundation (1965) he is internationally known for his leadership on behalf of religious freedom, human rights and tolerance was the first Rabbi to be awarded the U.S. Presidential Citizens Medal for “his service as an international envoy for four administrations” and “as a Holocaust survivor, devoting a lifetime to overcoming forces of hatred and intolerance,” and was recognized by the US Senate for his lifelong advocacy of inter-religious cooperation and peace.

About The Appeal of Conscience Foundation: 
The Appeal of Conscience Foundation, founded by Rabbi Arthur Schneier in 1965, has worked on behalf of religious freedom and human rights throughout the world. The Foundation believes that freedom, democracy and human rights are the fundamental values that give nations of the world their best hope for peace, security and shared prosperity. The Appeal of Conscience Foundation has long held that “a crime committed in the name of religion is the greatest crime against religion.” The struggle for human rights and religious freedom is ongoing and can be achieved by promoting open dialogue and mutual understanding.