Harold M. Schulweis

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Harold M. Schulweis (born April 14, 1925) is an American rabbi and author. He is the longtime spiritual Leader at Valley Beth Shalom in Encino, California.


Schulweis was born in Bronx, New York in 1925 to secular parents who respected Zionism and Jewish traditions. His early Jewish education was influenced by his grandfather, Rabbi Avraham Rezak, who introduced him to the Talmud. In 1945, Schulweis graduated Yeshiva University with a degree in philosophy. Later Schulweis enrolled in the Jewish Theological Seminary, where he studied under Kaplan and Abraham Joshua Heschel. Schulweis also studied philosophy at New York University, where he met his wife Malkah.

In 1986, Rabbi Harold M. Schulweis established The Jewish Foundation for the Righteous (JFR) to fulfill the traditional Jewish commitment to hakarat hatov, the searching out and recognition of goodness. To this end, the JFR is committed to assisting those Righteous Gentiles who are in need. They are often reluctant to ask for help; they acted without expecting reward then or now. However, as Rabbi Schulweis realized, it is our duty to honor and support them.

The JFR started out funding eight rescuers, and that number quickly grew, reaching 1,750. Now, as the rescuers age and pass on, the number of rescuers receiving our support is declining; however, we continue to receive new applications on behalf of recently recognized rescuers. Currently, the JFR supports more than 850 aged and needy rescuers in 23 countries.

In addition to providing needed financial assistance to rescuers each month, the Foundation preserves the memory and legacy of the rescuers through its national Holocaust education program. The goal of the program is to educate middle and high school teachers about the history of the Holocaust and to provide them with the resources to integrate this knowledge into their classrooms.[1]

Rabbinical career[edit]

Schulweis's first pulpit was Temple Beth Abraham, a Conservative Jewish congregation in Oakland, California in 1952. Among the innovations he introduced was the inclusion of women in minyanim and bat mitzvah ceremonies for girls. Instead of sermons, he used the alloted time for questions and answers. Schulweis has been criticized by the religious right for his interfaith and conversion programs, and open inclusion of homosexuals. Rabbi Meir Kahane criticized Schulweis for allowing a pro-PLO Arab Knesset member to speak at his synagogue, while refusing to extend the same opportunity to Kahane, who was also a Knesset member at the time.[2]Newsweek magazine called him "the leading Conservative rabbi of his generation" and placed him 13th on their list of the Top 50 Rabbis in America.[citation needed] Though he is affiliated with the Conservative Movement he is considered one of the greatest authorities and theologians of Reconstructionist Judaism today.[citation needed]

Human rights and Jewish activism[edit]

Schulweis founded the Jewish World Watch, a human rights watch group. He was instrumental in the creation of the Chavurah movement in the late 1960s.[3] Schulweis served as technical advisor for Judaism-themed episodes of The Simpsons.[4]

Published works[edit]

  • Evil and the Morality of God, (1983)
  • In God's Mirror: Reflections and Essays, (1990)
  • For Those Who Can't Believe: Overcoming the Obstacles to Faith, (1994)
  • Meditations and Prayers for the Renewal of the Body and the Renewal of the Spirit, (2000)
  • Finding Each Other in Judaism: Meditations on the Rites of Passage from Birth to Immortality, (2001)
  • When You Lie Down and When You Rise Up: Nighstand Meditations, (2001)
  • Conscience: The Duty to Obey and the Duty to Disobey, (2008)


Articles in Sh'ma Magazine[edit]

Full list on BJPA.org

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "History". The Jewish Foundation of the Righteous. Retrieved 2011-06-23. 
  2. ^ Uncomfortable Questions for Comfortable Jews, Meir Kahane, p.40
  3. ^ Rabbi Harold M. Schulweis Biography from Valley Beth Shalom
  4. ^ Springfield Nuclear Power Plant:Episodes:8F05

External links[edit]