Noted Social Activist to Speak at Martin Luther King Jr. Faith Celebration



Rabbi Arik W. Ascherman will be the guest speaker at Dartmouth’s Martin Luther King Jr. Community Faith Celebration. He will talk about “A Rabbi’s View of Human Rights in Israel,” at the service, which takes place at 3 p.m. Sunday, January 20, 2013, in Rollins Chapel.

Sunday’s celebration will also feature performances by Dartmouth’s World Music Percussion Ensemble, Dartmouth’s X.ado a cappella choir, and the Kliptown Youth Program’s gumboot dancers from Kliptown, South Africa.

The Rev. Richard Crocker, the Virginia Rice Kelsey ’61s Dean of the William Jewett Tucker Foundation, sees a parallel between King’s faith-based conception of social justice and Ascherman’s commitment to social justice, and says that is why Ascherman was asked to speak at the faith celebration this weekend.

Arik Ascherman is known as a rabbi and an activist for social justice. (Photo courtesy of the Tucker Foundation)

“Both draw upon their faith tradition to help us understand our possibilities and obligations. Both help us to think about the meaning of justice,” says Crocker.

“I believe that the work of Rabbis for Human Rights in Israel embodies the very spirit of Martin Luther King. Just as Dr. King and his organization (The Southern Christian Leadership Conference) pressed his society to think about the just relationship between racial groups in America, so Rabbi Ascherman and his organization are pressing us all to think about the just relationship of Israelis and Palestinians,” says Crocker.

Ascherman’s address will focus on the mission and activism of Rabbis for Human Rights, as well as how King’s legacy can inform our actions in the world we live in today. Rabbi Ascherman has received numerous accolades for his human rights work, including the Abraham Joshua Heschel Award of the Jewish Peace Fellowship in 2005.

“The best way to celebrate a person’s life is to carry on their legacy and let that inspire us to live our lives in a better and more honorable way,” says Ascherman.

Ascherman graduated from Harvard University in 1981 and later worked for Interns for Peace, a program that seeks to facilitate positive interactions between Israeli Jews and Arabs. In 1989, he was ordained by Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. He served as co-director of Rabbi of Human Rights from 1995-1998 and executive director from 1998-2010, and he is currently responsible for external relations and special projects. The organization was established in 1988 with the purpose of furthering the Jewish religious understanding of human rights. The organization has championed the cause of Israel’s poor, promoted the equal status of women in Israel, and supported the rights of Israel’s minorities and Palestinians.

For a complete schedule of events, visit Dartmouth’s Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration website.

Chidi Anyadike '13