Marc H. Tanenbaum

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Marc H. Tanenbaum
1990-Dec. 6 - Vatican-IJCIC Meeting, Rabbi Tanenbaum Pope JP II.jpg
Tanenbaum and Pope John Paul II in 1990
Personal details
Born (1925-10-13)October 13, 1925[1]
Baltimore, Maryland
Died July 3, 1992(1992-07-03) (aged 66)
Nationality American
Denomination Conservative
Residence New York City
Children 4
Occupation Human rights and social justice activist who worked on Christian-Jewish relations
Alma mater Yeshiva University, Jewish Theological Seminary
Semicha 1950

Rabbi Marc H. Tanenbaum (1925–1992) was a human rights and social justice activist who was known for building bridges with other faith communities to advance mutual understanding and cooperation and to eliminate entrenched stereotypes, particularly those rooted in religious teachings.[2] He was an advocate during the Second Vatican Council (1962–1965) on behalf of what eventually emerged as Nostra aetate, a landmark document which overturned a long tradition of hostility toward Jews and Judaism—including the charge that the Jews were responsible for the death of Jesus—and affirmed the Jewish roots of Christianity. Nostra aetate established a new policy of outreach in dialogue to Jews and set Catholic-Jewish relations on a new course.[3]

Tanenbaum was dubbed "the human rights rabbi" for his work on behalf of Vietnamese boat people and Cambodian refugees. He helped organize humanitarian relief for victims of the Nigerian Civil War.[4]

Biography[edit]

The son of poor Orthodox Jewish Ukrainian immigrants, Tanenbaum grew up in Baltimore. He excelled in school,graduating with a scholarship to attend Yeshiva University in New York City.[5] He pursued both pre-medical and rabbinical studies. Upon graduating from Yeshiva University, he was accepted into medical school, but after only one day of classes, he realized that medicine was not the path for him.[5]

Always interested in writing, both creative and journalistic, he found work at a weekly newsletter. A chance encounter with former classmate Harold M. Schulweis, who later became a distinguished rabbi and author, led to Tanenbaum's application for and admission to the Jewish Theological Seminary.[6] At the seminary he pursued his interests in both Judaism and journalism, writing for The Eternal Light, a radio show produced by the seminary.[6]

After ordination, Rabbi Tanenbaum knew he wanted to serve the Jewish community but not in what capacity. He worked in various positions as a writer and editor, and, for a time, was the religion writer for Time magazine. In 1952, he became director of the Synagogue Council of America, an organization formed to represent the combined voices of Orthodox, Conservative and Reform Judaism in the United States in the area of public policy and intergroup relations.[7] At the Synagogue Council he forged contacts with Christian leaders, including televangelists and Greek Orthodox primates and befriended the late Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. He became involved in national public affairs, serving as the vice president of the White House Conference on Children and Youth, where he invited Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel to deliver a major paper. The intersection of religion and public policy had a particular appeal for Tanenbaum, and he saw it as a fertile field for interreligious cooperation. He believed that Jews needed to take an active role in public life in order to prevent marginalization and to counter anti-Semitism.[7]

In 1983, Rabbi Tanenbaum became director of International Affairs of the American Jewish Committee where he focused on issues of human rights and humanitarian work.[8]

During his career as director of first Interreligious and then International Affairs at the AJC, Marc Tanenbaum won public recognition. Newsweek magazine dubbed him as "the American Jewish community's foremost apostle to the gentiles." New York Magazine called him "the foremost Jewish ecumenical leader in the world today." In a poll of newspaper editors ranking the ten most respected and influential religious leaders in America, Rabbi Tanenbaum came in fourth.[4]

He served on the boards of various institutions, including the American Jewish World Service, the International Rescue Committee, the Overseas Development Council, the United Nations Association, the National Peace Academy, the A. Philip Randolph Institute, and Covenant House. He was founder and Chairman of the National Interreligious Task Force on Soviet Jewry, which, under the directorship of Ann Gillen, vigorously pursued the cause of oppressed Jews and Christians in the Soviet Union. He was awarded fifteen honorary degrees, and was honored by the International Council of Christians and Jews and the New York Board of Rabbis.[4]

Tanenbaum was known for his weekly radio broadcasts, which addressed current events with commentary. He also wrote editorials and articles directed to the Jewish community, upholding the value of interreligious dialogue.

Tanenbaum’s first marriage in 1955 to Helga Weiss ended in divorce in 1977. They had two daughters, Adina and Susan, and a son, Michael. He was married in 1982 to Dr. Georgette Bennett, an author, broadcast journalist, criminologist and business consultant.[9]

He died of heart failure in 1992 at the age of 66, seven weeks before the birth of his son, Joshua-Marc Tanenbaum. In 1993 Dr. Bennett launched the Rabbi Marc H. Tanenbaum Foundation, which operates today as the Tanenbaum Center for Interreligious Understanding.[9]

Education[edit]

Board memberships[edit]

Key writings[edit]

  • Paths to Agape (1962)[10]
  • What is a Jew? (1963)[11]
  • Pope John XXIII:"One of the Righteous Among the Peoples of the Earth" (1963)[12]
  • An Interfaith Reexamination of Christian-Jewish Relations[13]
  • The American Negro: Myths and Realities[14]
  • The Role of the Church and Synagogue in Social Action[15]
  • Vatican II: An Interfaith Appraisal: A Jewish Viewpoint[16]
  • A Jewish Reaction to Catholic Positions in Vatican II[17]
  • Israel's Hour of Need and the Jewish-Christian Diologue[18]
  • The Meaning of Israel: A Jewish View[19]
  • Jewish-Christian Relations:Issues and Prospects[20]
  • A Survey and Evaluation of Christian-Jewish Relationships Since Vatican Council II[21]
  • Statement on"Jerusalem" Before the Near East Subcommittee of the House Foreign Affairs Committee
  • Do You Know What Hurts Me?[22]
  • Judaism, Christianity, and Islam: Discovery of Mutual Harmonies (February 16, 1972)
  • Some Issues Raised by Forthcoming Evangelism Campaigns: A Background Memorandum (June 1972)
  • Judaism, Ecumenism and Pluralism[23]
  • Holy Year 1975 and Its Origins in the Jewish Jubilee Year[24]
  • The Maccabees and Martyrdom: Their Meaning for Today[25]
  • Major Issues in the Jewish-Christian Situation Today[26]
  • The Moral Legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.(January 15, 1980)
  • The Moral Majority: Threat or Challenge?[27]
  • Address on the Seventy-fifth Anniversary of the American Jewish Committee (May 15, 1981)
  • Luther and the Jews: From the Past, A Present Challenge[28]
  • The Role of the Passion Play in Fostering Anti-Semitism Throughout History[29]
  • Jewish-Christian Relations: Heschel and Vatican Council II (February 21, 1983)
  • The Concept of the Human Being in Jewish Thought: Some Ethical Implications[30]
  • On Black-Jewish Relations (March 11, 1987)
  • Response on Receiving "Interfaith Award" of the International Council of Jews (May 11, 1988)
  • Jewish-Catholic Relations: Achievements and Unfinished Agenda (November 27–30, 1988)
  • No One Has the Right to Turn Auschwitz into a Christian Holy Place[31]

Television consulting[edit]

  • "A.D." – The T.V. Mini-Series
  • "Civilta Cattolica" Returns to Anti-Zionist Hatred
  • "Din Mishpat" – Dispute with the Lord
  • Holocaust series and the Soul of Germany
  • "Jesus of Nazareth"

References and notes[edit]

  1. ^ Goldman, Ari L. (4 July 1992). "Rabbi Marc Tanenbaum, 66, Is Dead". New York Times. Retrieved 18 June 2009. 
  2. ^ Banki, Judith H. “Biographical Sketch”. A Prophet for Our Time. Eds. Judith H. Banki and Eugene J. Fisher. New York: Fordham University Press, 2002, xix
  3. ^ Banki, Judith H. “Biographical Sketch”. A Prophet for Our Time, xiv–xxv.
  4. ^ a b c Banki, Judith H. “Biographical Sketch”. A Prophet for Our Time, xix.
  5. ^ a b Banki, Judith H. “Biographical Sketch”. A Prophet for Our Time, xx.
  6. ^ a b Banki, Judith H. “Biographical Sketch”. A Prophet for Our Time, xxi.
  7. ^ a b Banki, Judith H. “Biographical Sketch”. A Prophet for Our Time, xxii.
  8. ^ Banki, Judith H. “Biographical Sketch”. A Prophet for Our Time, xxiv.
  9. ^ a b Banki, Judith H. “Biographical Sketch”. A Prophet for Our Time, xxvii.
  10. ^ Tanenbaum, Marc H. (November 1962). "Paths to Agape (AJC Reporter)". Ave Maria National Catholic Weekly. 
  11. ^ Tanenbaum, Marc H. (January 29, 1963). Encounter: Catholic-Jewish Confrontation. Conference at Rockhurst College. 
  12. ^ Tanenbaum, Marc H. (June 15, 1963). "Pope Jon XXII:"One of the Righteous Among the Peoples of the Earth"". Ave Maria National Catholic Weekly. 
  13. ^ Tanenbaum, Marc H. (August 1963). An Interfaith Reexamination of Christian-Jewish Relations. Sister Formation Workshop at Marquette University. 
  14. ^ Tanenbaum, Marc H. (January–February 1964). The American Negro: Myths and Realities. Religious Education . 
  15. ^ Tanenbaum, Marc H. (January 1966). The Role of the Church and Synagogue in Social Action. Torah and Gospel:Jewish and Catholic Theology in Diologue. : New York: Sheed and Ward. 
  16. ^ Miller, John H. (March 1966). Vatican II: An Interfaith Appraisal. International Conference on Theological Issues of Vatican II. University of Notre Dame. 
  17. ^ Tanenbaum, Marc H. (June 23, 1966). "A Jewish Reaction to Catholic Position in Vatican II". Twenty-fifth Annual Convention of Catholic Theological Society of America, Providence, Rhode Island. 
  18. ^ Tanenbaum, Marc H. (Winter 1968). "Israel's Hour of Need and the Jewish-Christian Diologue". Conservative Judaism. 22 (2). 
  19. ^ Tanenbaum, Marc H.; Southern Baptist-Jewish Scholars Conference. "The Meaning of Israel: A Jewish View". 
  20. ^ Tanenbaum, Marc H. (Fall 1970). "Jewish-Christian Relations: Issues and Prospects". Perkins Journal. Perkins School of Technology. 
  21. ^ Tanenbaum, Marc H. (October 1970). "A Survey and Evaluation of Christian-Jewish Relationships Since Vatican Council II". "Toward a Theology of Israel" Convocation. Seton Hall University. 
  22. ^ Tanenbaum, Marc H. (February 12, 1972). "Do You Know What Hurts Me?". Event. American Lutheran Church Men: 4–8. 
  23. ^ Tanenbaum, Marc H. (1974). Judaism, Ecumenism, and Pluralism (Speaking of God Today: Jews and Lutherans in Conversation ed.). Philadelphia: Fortress Press. 
  24. ^ Tanenbaum, Marc H. (1974). "Holy Year 1975 and Its Origins in the Jewish Jubilee Year". Jubilaem: Consilium Primarium Anno Sancto Celebrando. Vatican City: Libreria Editrice. 
  25. ^ Tanenbaum, Marc H. (March 12, 1976). "The Maccabees and Martydom: Their Meaning for Today". Catholic Sentinel. 
  26. ^ Tanenbaum, Marc H. (Jan–Feb 1979). "Major Issues in the Jewish-Christian Situation Today". New Catholic World. 217 (1279). 
  27. ^ Tanenbaum, Marc H. (March 3, 1981). "The Moral Majority: Threat or Challenge". Hadassah Magazine. 
  28. ^ Tanenbaum, Marc H.; Eric Gritsch (1983). "Luther and the Jews: From the Past, A Present Challenge". Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. 
  29. ^ Tanenbaum, Marc H. (1983). "The Role of the Passion Play in Fostering Anti-Semitism Throughout History". Good Friday Worship: Jewish Concerns. Detroit. Christian Response (Ecumenical Institute for Jewish–Christian Studies). 
  30. ^ Tanenbaum, Marc H.; Marvin Wilson (1984). A. James Rudin, ed. The Concept of the Human Being in Jewish Thought: Some Ethical Implications (Evangelicals and Jews in an Age of Pluralism ed.). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House. 
  31. ^ Tanenbaum, Marc H. (August 18, 1989). "No One Has the Right to Turn Auschwitz into a Christian Holy Place". New York Post. 

External links[edit]