Heschel and the Vietnam War


Clergy and Laymen Concerned About Vietnam (CALCAV) emerged as a pivotal organization during the Vietnam War, bringing together a diverse group of religious leaders and laypeople who shared deep concerns about the escalating conflict. Heschel was one of the notable figures playing a crucial role in CALCAV’s founding. He worked with Rev. John Bennett (president, Union Theological Seminary), John Berrigan (Jesuit priest), Rev William Sloane Coffin (chaplain, Yale University), Pastor Richard Neuhaus (St John the Evangelist Church, Brooklyn), and David Hunter (Deputy General Secretary, National Council of Churches). His moral authority and commitment to social justice were instrumental in shaping CALCAV’s mission. Together, they provided a unified voice, transcending religious boundaries, and advocating for peace amidst the turbulent backdrop of the Vietnam War.

It was under CALCAV’s auspices that Martin Luther King delivered his 1967 speech at Riverside Church, “Beyond Vietnam.”

Black and white photo with men marching holding flags and one Torah. Picture includes Martin Luther King, Jr. and Abraham Joshua Heschel.
Courtesy of Peter Geffen

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