Steve Gutow

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Rabbi Steve Gutow
Nationality American
Occupation Rabbi, activist

Rabbi Steve Gutow is a Visiting Scholar at NYU’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service and co-director of the Religious Leadership and Civic Engagement initiative.[1] He is a rabbi, lawyer, community activist, and Jewish leader. He formerly served as the President and CEO of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA).[2]


Rabbi Gutow is a community organizer and Jewish community leader who has mobilized the Jewish community and built grassroots coalitions across faith groups to advocate on a broad range of issues including hunger, interfaith relations, judicial independence and the security of Israel. He has specifically led national initiatives to encourage the United States government to take firm stands against Iran acquiring nuclear weapons, end the genocide in Darfur, maintain and enhance anti-poverty programs, and create a sustainable environment.


A Dallas, Texas native, Gutow attended the University of Texas at Austin where he earned an undergraduate degree in history in 1970, and a juris doctorate in 1977. He is a member of the Texas Bar Association and practiced with the firm of Gutow, Albach, and Blume in Dallas from 1980-1990. He graduated from the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in Wyncote, PA in 2003 [3] and received the degree of Master of Hebrew Letters.


Gutow is the founding executive director of the National Jewish Democratic Council (NJDC).[4] Founded in 1990, NJDC is the national voice of Jewish Democrats. Under his leadership, the organization formed chapters in more than two dozen communities around America. He also served as the chair and chief professional officer of the Texas Democratic party coordinated campaign in 1995-1996 [5] as well as the leader of the 21st Century Democrats [6] during that same period.

After his graduation from rabbinical school, Gutow served as the pulpit rabbi at the Reconstructionist Minyan of St. Louis, MO.[7] He served in this position until 2005. During that time he was also an Adjunct Professor of Law at St. Louis University Law School.[3]

In August 2005, Gutow was named Executive Director [8] of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA), the national coordinating and advisory body for the 14 national and 125 local agencies comprising the field of Jewish community relations. He became the organization's President and CEO in 2009,[3] serving through the end of 2015 before being succeeded by David Bernstein.

Under Gutow's leadership, the JCPA was a stalwart advocate of a strong U.S.-Israel relationship with a focus on preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.[9] In 2009, Rabbi Gutow oversaw the formation of The Israel Action Network, a project in partnership with The Jewish Federations of North America to organize communities to combat efforts to delegitimize or isolate Israel.

During his tenure, JCPA became a central agency in combating hunger in America.[10] Rabbi Gutow and JCPA launched the There Shall Be No Needy Among You initiative [11] in 2007 to urge local, state and national leaders to advance legislation and programs to help provide food, shelter, additional work and educational opportunities for the nation's most vulnerable. Under Rabbi Gutow's leadership, the JCPA poverty campaign implemented several efforts that have led to an increased national commitment to reduce poverty such as the "food stamp challenge," [12] Fighting Poverty with Faith,[13] and the "Childhood Nutrition Seders."[14] Rabbi Gutow made the food stamp challenge an annual event to raise awareness about the importance of protecting SNAP (formerly food stamps). In 2011, Rabbi Gutow was joined by 14 Members of Congress [15] and in 2012, he organized over 150 rabbis from all denominations.[16]

In 2009, Gutow announced the expansion of the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life (COEJL) [17] — a project of JCPA — and the launch of the Jewish Energy Covenant Campaign under COEJL's aegis. This campaign seeks to increase the involvement of the American Jewish community in the nation’s climate change and energy debates.

Gutow is a former chair of the Dallas Jewish Community Relations Council and was the founding regional director of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee's Southwest Region.[18]

In 2010, Gutow joined the Board of the Washington, D.C. based Faith in Public Life,[19] an organization founded following the 2004 presidential election to help shape public debates and advance faith as a positive and unifying force for justice, compassion and the common good.

He also served as chair from 2008 to 2009 and is now an executive committee member of the Save Darfur Coalition,[20] a U.S.-based advocacy group calling for international intervention in Sudan, to try and stop the genocidal conflict there. In March 2012, Rabbi Gutow was arrested with actor George Clooney, NAACP President Ben Jealous, Representatives Jim McGovern and Jim Moran, and others at a protest outside the Sudanese Embassy in Washington, DC calling on the US to ensure delivery of humanitarian aid to the Blue Nile and Nuba Mountain regions.[21]

Gutow has served on the state board of the Texas Civil Liberties Union,[22] the national board of the American Jewish Congress,[22] as well as maintaining leadership roles in many other local and state organizations in Texas.

In 2013, the JCPA under Rabbi Gutow undertook an "Immigration Nation" campaign to demonstrate Jewish community support for comprehensive immigration reform and a campaign to end gun violence, inspired by the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary.

In 2015, Gutow was appointed to the President’s Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships,[23] and was accepted as a New York member of the Council on Foreign Relations.[24] In addition, he serves as chair of the board of the National Religious Partnership for the Environment, which is a partnership of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, the National Association of Evangelicals, the National Council of Churches and JCPA.


In May 2016, Gutow gave the commencement address at Gratz College where he was awarded an honorary doctorate.[25]

Gutow has been repeatedly recognized as one of the nation’s most influential rabbis by Newsweek/Daily Beast, in 2009,[26] 2010,[27] and 2012.[28] He has also been recognized as one of the nation’s top Jewish leaders by the Forward.[29]

In 2001, Gutow was awarded both the Reconstructionist Student Association Prize for Social Action within the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, and the Rabbi Devora Bartnoff Memorial Prize for Spiritually Motivated Social Action.[3]


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