Rabbi Harold M. Schulweis (z"l), one of the best-known pulpit rabbis in America, served at Valley Beth Shalom in from 1970 until his death in December 2014.
He combined a Talmudic education at Yeshiva College with graduate studies in modern philosophical and theological thought at New York University, the Jewish Theological Seminary and the Pacific School of Religion, from which he received his Th.D. in Theology. He has lectured in philosophy and theology at CCNY, the University of Judaism and Hebrew Union College.
Rabbi Schulweis was instrumental in the development of synagogue programs such as the Synagogue Havurah Program (since adopted nationally), Para-professional Counseling Center, Para-Rabbinics, Jews-by-Choice, Outreach to the Developmentally Disabled (Shaare Tikvah and Chaverim), the VBS Day School, as well as addressing the issues of Jewish education and interfaith dialogue.
He was the Founding Chairman of the Jewish Foundation for the Righteous, an organization that identifies and offers grants to those non-Jews who risked their lives to save Jews threatened by the agents of Nazi savagery. He was also the Founder of Jewish World Watch, a synagogue-based organization dedicated to raising both awareness and funds to protest the genocide in Darfur, and bringing vital assistance to the victims of its unrest. Over 60 synagogues and other religious institutions are now supporting this effort across the country.
Rabbi Schulweis authored many books, including: Approaches to the Philosophy of Religion (Prentice-Hall), For Those Who Can’t Believe (Harper Collins), Finding Each Other in Judaism, and In God’s Mirror. His Evil and the Morality of God (Hebrew Union College Press) is regarded as a classic, and was republished by KTAV in 2010. He has also published two books of original religious poetry and meditations— From Birth to Immortality and Passages in Poetry. His recent book, Conscience: The Duty to Obey and the Duty to Disobey (Jewish Lights), was named Winner of the 2008 National Jewish Book Award: Contemporary Jewish Life and Practice. Also in 2008, he shepherded the compilation of biographical essays by over 50 Jews by choice, published by Valley Beth Shalom and entitled Under the Shadow of Thy Wings, which has been republished under the title Judaism: Embracing the Seeker (KTAV, 2010).
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Honors and Awards
- Global Soul Award, Jewish World Watch, 2009
- 2008 National Jewish Book Award (Contemporary Jewish Life and Practice): Conscience: The Duty to Obey and the Duty to Disobey
- Daniel Pearl Award, Anti-Defamation League, 2008
- John Allen Buggs Humanitarian Award, Los Angeles County, 2008
- Spirit of the Immortal Chaplains Award, 2006
- The Beautiful People Award for Outstanding Community Service, 1999
- Simon Greenberg Award for Distinguished Leadership, 1999
- Distinguished Alumni Award, Pacific School of Religion, 1998
- Crown of the Good Name Award, Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, 1994
- Martin Buber Award, American Friends of Hebrew University, 1992
- Eisendrath Bearer of Light Award, Union of American Hebrew Congregations, 1991
- Human Relations Award, San Fernando Valley Interfaith Council Committee, 1991
- Doctor of Humane Letters, Honoris Causa, University of Judaism, 1983
- Doctor of Humane Letters, Honoris Causa, Jewish Theological Seminary, 1975
- Israel Prime Minister’s Medal, 1975
- United Synagogue Social Actions Award, 1965
- Invitation to tour West Germany from Federal Republic of Germany, 1965