Rabbi Philip E. Schechter, active in the early 1960s Civil Rights Movement in Baltimore and arrested in a nationally publicized interfaith and interracial protest, will share those tumultuous times on Sunday, February 3, 2013 as part of the Jewish Historical Society of Fairfield County’s February Featured Program. The talk, which is free and open to the public, will be held at Congregation Agudath Sholom 301 Strawberry Hill Ave Stamford, Connecticut at 1:30PM.
The historic protest featured Roman Catholic, Protestant, and Jewish clergy within an interracial group “trespassing” at a segregated amusement park. Their courageous actions in the face of civil disobedience not only sent a clear message that religious leaders would not stand idly by while some human beings were being denied basic human rights but were also credited with bringing the last vestiges of segregation in Maryland to an end.
Committed to the Atlantic City community from 1964 to 1970, Rabbi Schechter co-chaired the Atlantic City Human Rights Forum, an interfaith-interracial organization that focused on righting the racial inequities in the government and hotel industry in Atlantic City.
In recognition of his contributions, he was made Vice President of the Atlantic City chapter of the NAACP and representative at its National Convention. Under Martin Luther King Jr.’s leadership, Rabbi Schechter participated in the March on Montgomery and organized local community support for the Freedom Democratic Party of Mississippi at the National Democratic Convention in Atlantic City.
Eva Weller, JHS President, is thrilled to hear Rabbi Schechter’s account of the Civil Rights Movement since “fighting against oppression and injustice is a critical and integral part of our American and Jewish legacy.”
Rabbi Schechter is currently the President of the National Association of Retired Reform Rabbis and is Rabbi-in-Residence at the First Presbyterian Church (the Fish Church) in Stamford, an interfaith outreach designed to help Christians not only gain a deeper understanding of the Old Testament and Christianity’s Jewish roots but also to highlight the generally unknown similarities between Judaism and the New Testament as well. Lorraine Runde, Elder at the First Presbyterian Church, praises Rabbi Schechter’s work there especially for his emphasizing “that there are more similarities than differences in our faiths which are both of the Abrahamic tradition. We each learn from the other which leads to better understanding for us all.”
A Bronx native, he attended PS 70, Horace Mann School, John Hopkins and University of Cincinnati. After ordination at Hebrew Union College in 1960, he served two years in the United States Air Force in Roswell, New Mexico. Following his service, he became Pulpit Rabbi serving in Baltimore, Atlantic City, New York City, Manalapan, New Jersey and Stamford and Southington, Connecticut.
Rabbi Philip E. Schechter and his wife, Rabbi Liz Rolle, the Religious School Director of Congregation Beth El in Norwalk, have 4 children and 3 grandchildren. Their oldest daughter, also a Rabbi and Air Force officer, is chaplain at Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland, bringing family service full circle.
The Jewish Historical Society of Fairfield County is a beneficiary agency of United Jewish Federation of Greater Stamford, New Canaan and Darien.