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August 22, 2014 | 26th Av 5774
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Rabbi Maurice N. Eisendrath

Rabbi Maurice N. EisendrathRabbi Maurice N. Eisendrath, the executive director and president of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations from 1943—1973, began his leadership of the Union as executive secretary, a position that was later changed to president. In 1951 Rabbi Eisendrath moved the Union’s headquarters from Cincinnati to New York, dramatizing the adoption of a more dynamic program of leadership within the Movement. In the early 1950s the Union purchased its first camp and the Movement’s emphasis on social action began in earnest, culminating with the 1961 founding of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism.

Rabbi Maurice N. Eisendrath with the Reverend Martin Luther King JrUnder Rabbi Eisendrath the Movement experienced tremendous growth as congregations were formed in the new suburbs populated by returning GIs. By 1956 there were 536 congregations in the Union, and by 1970 the number had reached 706.A passionate champion of prophetic Judaism, Eisendrath applied social justice values to the struggle for civil rights, equal justice, peace in the midst of the Vietnam conflict, inter-religious cooperation for human rights and social justice. “Nobody slept during his tenure,” writes Al Vorspan, “for he was a disturber of sleep who brought discomfort to the comfortable.”

 
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