ABOUT THE FILM

 

Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel was one of the most remarkable and inspiring figures of the American 20th Century. He was a mentor to Martin Luther King, Jr and the entire Civil Rights Movement, a leading critic of the Vietnam War, a champion for Soviet Jews and a pioneer in the work of interfaith dialogue.

Born in Warsaw, Poland, Heschel was part of a dynastic royalty of Hasidic rabbis dating back centuries. He narrowly escaped the Holocaust and arrived in New York in 1940. Over the next thirty years he emerged as a one of the most influential voices in the world of religion. His many books, including The Prophets, The Sabbath, and God in Search of Man, are considered religious classics and are widely studied.
Today his picture hangs in countless synagogues across America despite the fact that fifty years ago many disagreed with his public opinions.

The film combines archival photographs and rarely seen footage, as well as interviews with Civil Rights leaders Congressman John Lewis and Andrew Young, Pulitzer-prize winning historian Taylor Branch, public theologian Cornel West, Jewish Theological Seminary Chancellor Arnold Eisen, daughter Susannah Heschel and others. Also featured is artist Marc Chagall’s depiction of the Hebrew prophets, and Ilya’s Schor’s paintings and woodcuts of Hasidic life.

INTERVIEWEES

Rabbi James Rudin

JAMES RUDIN was ordained at Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion in 1960.  He joined the staff of the American Jewish Committee in 1968 and served until 2000. He is a founder of the St. Leo University Center for Catholic-Jewish Studies and a regular contributor to numerous publications including Religious News Service.

Susannah Heschel

SUSANNAH HESCHEL is the daughter of Abraham and Sylvia Heschel. She is the Eli Black professor of Jewish Studies at Dartmouth College. She is the author of numerous articles and her published works include Betrayal: German Churches and the Holocaust, and Moral Grandaur and Spiritual Audacity: Essays of Abraham Joshua Heschel

Walter Brueggemann

Theologian WALTER BRUEGGEMANN is one of the most prolific scholars in America today. Author of more than 100 books and countless articles, he is widely considered one of the most influential Bible interpreters of our time. An ordained minister in the United Church of Christ, his best known works include The Prophetic Imagination and The Message of the Psalms. 

Arnold Eisen

ARNOLD EISEN is one of the nation’s leading scholars on American Judaism. He served as the seventh Chancellor of Jewish Theological Seminary from 2007 until 2020 and now continues there as a professor of Jewish Thought. He won the National Jewish Book Award in 1987 and 1998 and contributes to The Huffington Post.

Rabbi Sharon Brous

SHARON BROUS is a graduate of Jewish Theological Seminary (2001) and founder of IKAR, a pioneering congregation in Los Angeles, CA striving to reanimate Jewish life across America. Rabbi Brous is regularly selected as one of the most influential religious figures in the country and has been featured on the cover of TIME magazine.

 
 

Rabbi Shai Held

SHAI HELD is rabbinic dean, co-founder and Chair in Jewish Thought at Mechon Hadar, an institute for prayer, personal growth and Jewish study located in New York City. In addition to numerous articles, Held’s published works include Abraham Joshua Heschel: The Call of Transcendence, and a two volume set The Heart of Torah.

 

Congressman John Lewis

JOHN LEWIS was a United States Congressman representing Georgia’s Fifth District and a leader of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. He was a keynote speaker at the historic March on Washington in 1963 and co-led the 1965 voting rights march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama. Lewis is co-author of the National Book Award-winning graphic novel and memoir trilogy MARCH and Across That Bridge: Life Lessons and a Vision for Change, written with Brenda Jones. He passed away in July 2020.

Andrew Young

ANDREW YOUNG is a former congressman, mayor of Atlanta, and Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient. After graduating from Howard University and Hartford Theological Seminary, Young worked alongside Martin Luther King, Jr. in the Civil Rights Movement and helped draft both the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act. He is the author of An Easy Burden: The Civil Rights Movement and the Transformation of America.

Benjamin Sax

BENJAMIN SAX is the Jewish scholar at the Institute for Islamic, Christian and Jewish Studies in Baltimore, Maryland. He has a Master’s degree from Hebrew University in Jerusalem and a doctorate in the history of Judaism from University of Chicago. 

 

Cornel West

CORNEL WEST teaches Public Philosophy at Harvard University and is considered one of American’s leading public theologians. He is the author of 20 books including the best selling Race Matters. He is a regular guest on CNN and other news outlets.

Taylor Branch

 
Historian TAYLOR BRANCH is the Pulitzer-Prize winning author, best known for his series on Martin Luther King, Jr and the Civil Rights era including Parting the Waters: America in the King Years, (National Book Award) Pillars of Fire and At Canaan’s Edge. He has also received a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship and the National Humanities Medal.

Rabbi Michael Lerner

MICHAEL LERNER is an American political activist. He is founder and editor of Tikkun, a progressive interfaith Jewish magazine based in Berkeley, CA. He is also founder of Beyt Tikkun Synagogue, a Jewish renewal congregation in the Bay Area.  His latest book is Revolutionary Love: A Political Manifesto to Heal and Transform the World. 

John Connelly

JOHN CONNELLY is an American historian and professor at the University of California, Berkeley. He specializes in Eastern and Central European History. He is the author of From Enemy to Brother: The Revolution in Catholic Teaching on the Jews, and more recently From Peoples Into Nations: A History of Eastern Europe. 

Mary C. Boys

MARY C. BOYS is a theologian and Dean of Academic Affairs at Union Theological Seminary in New York City and a leading scholar in Christian/Jewish relations. She is also a member of the Catholic religious order of women  – The Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary. She is a former Professor of Religious Education at Boston College.

Reverend Jesse Jackson

REV. JESSE JACKSON is founder and president of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition and a leader of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. The recipient of over forty honorary doctorate degrees, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, in 2000. A renowned orator and international peacemaker, Rev. Jackson is also the author or co-author of the books Keep Hope AliveStraight From the HeartLegal Lynching: Racism, Injustice, and the Death Penalty, and It’s About The Money.

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