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A Voice to the Plundered Poor

We celebrate those who have spent their lives building bridges, making history by bringing people together. One man who made bridge-building his life's work was Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel.Born in Poland in 1907, Abraham Joshua Heschel received his doctorate in Berlin, Germany, and was also ordained as a rabbi - both sides of his family were made up of prominent European rabbis. In 1933, Rabbi Heschel published a book of Yiddish poetry and dedicated it to his father.When Hitler took over Germany, however, Rabbi Heschel's life would change for the worse - along with the lives of millions of other Jews. In 1938, the Gestapo arrested him and deported him to Poland. Six weeks before the Nazis invaded Poland, Rabbi Heschel was able to escape to London. His family would not be so lucky. Abraham's mother was murdered by the Nazis, one of his sisters was killed by German bombing, and two more died in concentration camps.Arriving in the United States in 1940, Rabbi Heschel served there until his death, first in Cincinnati and then in New York.While Rabbi Heschel taught and inspired many throughout his life, with his teachings and his writings, perhaps his greatest act of bridge-building was his work during the Civil Rights Movement, work that saw him march with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.As Rabbi Heschel wrote in his 1962 book, The Prophets:Prophecy is the voice that God has lent to the silent agony, a voice to the plundered poor, to the profane riches of the world. It is a form of living, a crossing point of God and man. God is raging in the prophet's words.These words were not only words that Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel wrote and believed, but words that he lived by as he built bridges between people of all different faiths, races, and backgrounds.


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The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (IFCJ) funds humanitarian aid to the needy in Israel and in Jewish communities around the world, promotes prayer and advocacy on behalf of the Jewish state, and provides resources that help build bridges of understanding between Christians and Jews.

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