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U.S. Ambassador to present Wallenberg Tribute Oct. 8


Rabbi Ambassador David N. Saperstein will speak on the topic "Being the Hands of God: Our Social Justice Agenda in a Time of Crisis."

Monday, October 2, 2017 09:15 AM

Rabbi Ambassador David N. Saperstein will be at Muhlenberg College on Sunday, October 8, to present the annual Raoul Wallenberg Tribute Lecture and to receive the Wallenberg Honors from the College. Rabbi Saperstein will speak at 3:30 p.m. in Miller Forum, Moyer Hall, on the topic, “Being the Hands of God: Our Social Justice Agenda in a Time of Crisis.” He served for more than 30 years as executive director of the Religious Action Center for Reform Judaism, leaving in early 2015 when President Barack Obama appointed him to be ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom in the U.S. State Department. He was the first Jew to hold that office.

Saperstein has been hailed as “the quintessential religious lobbyist on Capitol Hill” by the Washington Post and as the most influential rabbi in America by Newsweek magazine. He has returned to service as a senior policy advisor at the Religious Action Center.

The Wallenberg Tribute has been a fixture at Muhlenberg College since the mid-1980s. It honors the service and heritage of Raoul Wallenberg, a Swedish diplomat in Budapest, Hungary, who defied Adolf Eichmann and the Nazi-sympathizing government of Hungary in the waning months of World War II. Wallenberg is credited with saving as many as 100,000 Jews from deportation to death camps, through the wholesale distribution of protective passes that put Jews under the protection of the Swedish embassy and in safe houses that he had set up across the city.

A reception in Rabbi Saperstein’s honor, sponsored by the Berman Center for Jewish Studies of Lehigh University, will be held following the lecture in Seegers Union on the College campus. The College will then present Saperstein with the 2017 Wallenberg Honors, in recognition of the way his own service has embodied the courageous moral action that characterized Wallenberg, at a dinner to follow the reception, The lecture and dinner are organized by the Institute for Jewish-Christian Understanding of Muhlenberg College. Saperstein’s award will be presented by Linda Wimmer, who served as part of the steering committee that founded the IJCU in 1989 and as a national board member of the Union of Reform Judaism, sponsors of the Religious Action Center.

At the dinner, the Institute for Jewish-Christian Understanding will also recognize 2017 Muhlenberg graduate Emily Goldberg, who received the Jeanette Eichenwald Interfaith Award at the College’s Honors Convocation in the spring. Goldberg was a research associate and intern at the IJCU throughout her college career.

Founded in 1848, Muhlenberg is a highly selective, private, four-year residential, liberal arts college located in Allentown, Pa., approximately 90 miles west of New York City. With an undergraduate enrollment of approximately 2200 students, Muhlenberg College is dedicated to shaping creative, compassionate, collaborative leaders through rigorous academic programs in the arts, humanities, natural sciences and social sciences as well as selected pre-professional programs, including accounting, business, education and public health. A member of the Centennial Conference, Muhlenberg competes in 22 varsity sports. Muhlenberg is affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.