Rabbi Arthur Schneier, (b. March 20, 1930 in Vienna, Austria) Founder and President of the Appeal of Conscience Foundation since 1965, and Senior Rabbi, Park East Synagogue, New York since 1962, is internationally known for his ecumenical work on behalf of religious freedom, human rights, peace and inter-religious dialogue. The recipient of the Presidential Citizens Medal from U.S. President Bill Clinton, he was cited as “a Holocaust survivor who has devoted a lifetime to overcoming forces of hatred and intolerance and set an inspiring example of spiritual leadership by encouraging interfaith dialogue and intercultural understanding, and promoting the cause of religious freedom around the world.”
In April 2008, Rabbi Arthur Schneier hosted Pope Benedict XVI at Park East Synagogue, the first visit of a Pope to a synagogue in the United States. In February, 2009, he had a private audience with Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican to reaffirm Nostra Aetate adopted by Vatican Council II and was the Keynote speaker in 2008, at an Interfaith Conference convened by King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia in Madrid.
Rabbi Arthur Schneier was one of three American religious leaders appointed by President Clinton to start the first dialogue on religious freedom with President Jiang Zemin and other top Chinese leaders. As part of President Clinton’s delegation to China, Rabbi Schneier was privileged to present the Ohel Rachel Synagogue with the first Torah scroll in more than 50 years, donated by Park East Synagogue. He has served as a member of the U.S. delegation to the International Forum for Prevention of Genocide held in Stockholm in 2004 and as Chairman of the U.S. Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad from 1991-1995.
Rabbi Arthur Schneier also served as U.S. Alternate Representative at the U.N. General Assembly in 1988 and as a member of the U.S. Delegation for Return of the St. Steven Crown to Hungary in 1979. He was appointed as a member of the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations High-Level Group in 2006, by Secretary-General Kofi Annan and in 2008, Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon named him as United Nations Ambassador to the Alliance of Civilizations High-Level Group.
Rabbi Schneier is known for his pioneering role in the struggle on behalf of Soviet Jewry and the rebuilding of Jewish religious life in Russia, the Ukraine and Eastern Europe, successfully negotiating the return of the Moscow Synagogue to the Jewish community. Starting with his first visit to Moscow in 1966, he has intervened with Soviet and Eastern European governments to ease the plight of religious believers; headed interfaith missions to Europe, Central Asia, Middle East, and Latin America; convened six international conferences with government and religious leaders from the former Yugoslavia and Southeast Europe to halt ethnic conflict and further reconciliation.
Awards and recognitions
Rabbi Schneier is the recipient of the
- Austria : Grand Decoration of Honor in Gold with Star for Service to the Republic of Austria (1997) 
- Dr. Karl Renner Prize of the City of Vienna, Grand Decoration of Honor in Gold for Special Services to the Province of Vienna;
- Hungary : Commander’s Cross with the Star of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Hungary;
- Order of St. Daniel of Moscow (Moscow Patriarchate, Russian Orthodox Church);
- Religious Liberty Award.
He is a member of Council on Foreign Relations; Asia Society; United Nations Development Corporation; United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Committee on Conscience; Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations; Joint Distribution Committee; Past President and Honorary Chairman, Religious Zionists of America, Honorary Chairman, World Jewish Congress American Section.
The Recipient of eleven honorary doctorates from U.S. and European universities. His alma mater, Yeshiva University, honored him by establishing the Rabbi Arthur Schneier Center for International Affairs. In 2010, Hofstra University bestowed the Guru Nanak Interfaith Prize which recognizes significant work to increase interfaith understanding.
Rabbi Arthur Schneier was born in Vienna, Austria, March 20, 1930. Rabbi Schneier lived under Nazi occupation in Budapest during World War II and arrived in the United States in 1947. He is married to Elisabeth Nordmann Schneier.
- Congress. Congressional Record, V. 146, Pt. 3, March 21, 2000 to April 4, 2000. Government Printing Office. pp. 3122–. Retrieved 28 September 2011.
- "President Clinton Awards the Presidential Citizens Medals". National Archives and Records Administration. January 8, 2001.
- Haberman, Clyde (April 15, 2008). "History Awaits the Pope and the Rabbi". The New York Times.
- Jawetz, Pincas (March 17, 2012). "Rabbi Arthur Schneier". SustainabiliTank.
- "H.R. 1484 (111th): Rabbi Arthur Schneier Congressional Gold Medal Act". Gov Track.
- "K1003-2011: Honoring Rabbi Arthur Schneier on the celebration of the 50th Anniversary of his installation as the Rabbi of Park East Synagogue on March 18, 2012". NY Senate. March 6, 2012.
- "Reply to a parliamentary question about the Decoration of Honour" (pdf) (in German). p. 1140. Retrieved November 2012.