COLUMBUS, OH —Today, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) spoke at an interfaith event honoring the legacy of the late Rabbi Abraham Heschel, a social activist who worked closely with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and other prominent civil rights activists. During his speech, Brown announced his intention to work with colleagues in Congress to introduce legislation to award Rabbi Heschel the Congressional Gold Medal.
“After fleeing persecution, Rabbi Heschel took it upon himself to courageously speak out for social justice, civil rights, and tolerance for people of all races and religions,” said Brown. “His uncompromising social activism continues to serve as a model for us today, and awarding Rabbi Heschel the Congressional Gold Medal is a fitting honor for his important legacy.”
Last year, Brown led a group of bipartisan senators in urging President Obama to award the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Rabbi Heschel for his contributions to the Civil Rights Movement, his leadership on interfaith dialogue, his theological scholarship, and his role as a public intellectual.
A refugee from Hitler’s Europe, Rabbi Heschel escaped Poland a few weeks before the Nazi invasion and came to the United States on a visa secured for him by Julian Morgenstern, the former president of Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati. Rabbi Heschel joined Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in the third march on Selma and served as a consultant to the Second Vatican Council as part of the Church’s effort to repair the relationships between Jews and Catholics.
Sunday’s event, Honoring the Legacy of Rabbi Abraham Heschel: An Interfaith Event, was sponsored by the Jewish Federation of Columbus, Ohio Jewish Communities, the Jewish Community Center of Greater Columbus, and the Interfaith Association of Central Ohio. Rabbi Heschel’s daughter, Dr. Susannah Heschel, provided the keynote address.