David Saperstein (rabbi)

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David Saperstein
David Saperstein 2015.jpg
United States Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom
In office
January 6, 2015 – January 20, 2017
PresidentBarack Obama
Preceded bySuzan Johnson Cook
Succeeded bySam Brownback
Personal details
Born (1947-08-05) August 5, 1947 (age 71)
New York City, New York, U.S.
Alma materCornell University
Hebrew Union College
American University

David Nathan Saperstein is an American rabbi, lawyer, Jewish community leader[1] and former United States Ambassador.[2] He served as the director and chief legal counsel at the Union for Reform Judaism's Religious Action Center for more than 30 years.[3] Saperstein succeeded Rabbi Richard G. Hirsch as leader of the Washington D.C.-based political lobbying arm of the North American Reform movement. There, he advocated on a broad range of social justice issues. He directed a staff who provided extensive legislative and programmatic materials to synagogues, federations and Jewish Community Relations Councils nationwide, coordinating social action education programs that train nearly 3,000 Jewish adults, youth, rabbinic and lay leaders each year.[3] He has been described as America’s most influential rabbi.[4]

On July 28, 2014, President Obama nominated Saperstein to be the first non-Christian to hold the post of United States Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom.[2] In December 2014 Saperstein's appointment to the post won U.S. Senate confirmation.[5][6]

He currently co-chairs the Coalition to Preserve Religious Liberty, and serves on the boards of the NAACP, Common Cause, and People For the American Way. In 1999, Saperstein was elected as the first Chair of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.[7]

On August 28, 2008, Saperstein delivered the invocation at the Democratic National Convention's final session, before Senator Barack Obama accepted the party's nomination for president.[8] In February 2009, he was named to President Obama's Council for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.[9] Saperstein is also an adjunct professor at Georgetown University Law Center.[10]

He is a graduate member in good standing of the Tau Epsilon Phi fraternity.[11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Top 50 Influential Rabbis in America, newsweek.com, 4/11/08
  2. ^ a b "Obama Names Rabbi David Saperstein As U.S. Ambassador For Religious Freedom, The Huffington Post, Lauren Markoe & Brian Pellot, 7/28/14
  3. ^ a b Official biography from rac.org.
  4. ^ Religious freedom: Rabbi to the rescue, economist.com.
  5. ^ US Senate approves rabbi as freedom of faith envoy, Times of Israel, December 15, 2015. Retrieved December 15, 2014
  6. ^ Rabbi David Saperstein confirmed as U.S. Ambassador for Religious Freedom, AL.com, December 17, 2014, Retrieved December 19, 2014
  7. ^ http://www.interfaithalliance.org/site/pp.asp?c=8dJIIWMCE&b=120697#Saperstein
  8. ^ Democrats Pitch Big Tent in Bid To Draw in the Faithful, by Brett Lieberman, The Jewish Daily Forward, 8/28/08
  9. ^ "The Appointees". The Washington Post. February 6, 2009. Retrieved January 8, 2011.
  10. ^ Georgetown Law Faculty Profile page. Retrieved September 1, 2013.
  11. ^ Jeff Sondhelm, President Obama Nominates Brother David Saperstein as Ambassador! TEP.org website December 18, 2014, Retrieved December 19, 2014

External links[edit]

Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Suzan Johnson Cook
United States Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom
Succeeded by
Sam Brownback