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
President Barack Obama
Preceded by Suzan Johnson Cook
Succeeded by Sam Brownback
Personal details
Born (1947-08-05) August 5, 1947 (age 70)
New York City, New York, U.S.
Alma mater Cornell 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 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] While still a student Rabbi, he officiated over the High Holidays Service that were held in Saranac Lake, New York one year.

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