Rabbi Jim Lebeau

I have no doubt that my involvement in these same causes were because of his influence upon me.

Rabbinical Assembly
Israel
A Jewish Perspective

Where did you first encounter Heschel’s work?

As a student in The Rabbinical School in the late 1960s.

How did Heschel and his thinking inspire your work, religious life, or civic engagement?

I was deeply inspired by the model of social activism that Rabbi Heschel brought to the JTS community. It helped that his views echoed my views. My wife and I were involved in anti–Vietnam war efforts, as was Rabbi Heschel. As I entered JTS, I knew that all graduating rabbis were obligated to serve as US military chaplains. Before my graduation, JTS canceled this obligation because of opposition to the war.  I met with Rabbi Heschel, and he encouraged me to honor my commitment to the chaplaincy. His view was that Jewish military personnel needed rabbis. Following his advice, I served for two years as a US Navy Chaplain with the Marine Corps and realized how necessary and valuable was my time with the Jewish members of my military community.

What of Heschel lives in you?

I honor Rabbi Heschel’s involvement with the non-Jewish community and his support for civil rights and the cause of Soviet Jewry, just to mention a few of his righteous acts. I have no doubt that my involvement in these same causes throughout my career were because of his influence upon me.

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This framework - inspired by Heschel's radical amazement with the world in its entirety - is most likely why I became the person I am today. Sofia Freudenstein Castle in Time Orchestra, "Prophets" God in Search of Man. . .touched my heart and soul. Reverend Paul E Capetz