- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 20, 2006

Arthur Hertzberg, 84, outspoken rabbi

ENGLEWOOD, N.J. (AP) — Rabbi Arthur Hertzberg, a leading Jewish scholar and civil rights advocate known for his provocative, often contrarian views, died April 17 of complications related to heart failure. He was 84.

Mr. Hertzberg was president of the American Jewish Congress from 1972 to 1978, and vice president of the World Jewish Congress from 1975 to 1991.

He wrote a dozen books on Jewish thought and history, including “The Zionist Idea” and “The Jews in America.”

Though his approach to issues tended to be liberal, he seemed to relish taking on even those with whom he might generally have agreed.

Dedicated to the creation of Israel, he angered many Jews by also calling for a Palestinian state.

When the Rev. Daniel J. Berrigan, an anti-war activist, accused Israel of militarism and anti-Palestinian repression echoing Nazism, Mr. Hertzberg quickly accused Father Berrigan of anti-Semitism.

An early advocate of civil rights for blacks, Mr. Hertzberg was among the prominent participants in Martin Luther King’s 1963 March on Washington.

Nine years later, he headed the first Jewish delegation to meet formally with the Vatican about the Roman Catholic Church’s silence during the Holocaust.

Mr. Hertzberg was born in southeastern Poland and emigrated to the United States with his family when he was 5.

He studied at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York and met his wife while serving as an Air Force chaplain in Britain.

After returning to the United States, he became a congregational rabbi at the conservative Temple Emanu-el in Closter, N.J., where he served until 1985.

“He was a brilliant, brilliant scholar,” temple director Ilene Anesini said Tuesday. “He was still very much involved with the synagogue and would lecture here and teach here. He was a very, very special man, and there was a lot to learn from him.”

Surviving are his wife, two daughters, two brothers and a sister.



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