July 29, 2014 · 2 Av

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Rabbi David Saperstein, Director and Counsel

Rabbi David SapersteinSelected by Newsweek magazine in 2009 as the most influential rabbi in the country and described in a Washington Post profile as the "quintessential religious lobbyist on Capitol Hill," Rabbi David Saperstein represents the Reform Jewish Movement to Congress and the Administration as the Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism (RAC).

Under Rabbi Saperstein, writes J.J. Goldberg in his book Jewish Power, the Religious Action Center "has become one of the most powerful Jewish bodies in Washington, second only to AIPAC." In addition to its advocating on a broad range of social justice issues, the RAC provides extensive legislative and programmatic materials to synagogues nationwide and coordinates social action education programs that train nearly 3,000 Jewish adults, youth, rabbinic and lay leaders each year.

During his over three-decade tenure at the helm of the RAC, Rabbi Saperstein has headed several national religious coalitions, including the Coalition to Protect Religious Liberty. He serves on the board of numerous national organizations including the NAACP, People For the American Way, National Religious Partnership on the Environment and the World Bank's "World Faith Development Dialogue."

In 1999, Rabbi Saperstein was elected as the first Chair of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, created by a unanimous vote of Congress, and in 2009, he was appointed by President Obama as a member of the first White House Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. In 2004 and 2006, the Wall Street Journal and the Religion News Service respectively described him as among the country's most influential shapers of religious issues in national elections.

Also an attorney, Rabbi Saperstein teaches seminars in First Amendment Church-State Law and in Jewish Law at Georgetown University Law School.

A prolific writer and speaker, Rabbi Saperstein has appeared on a number of television news and talk shows including Oprah, Nightline, Lehrer News Hour, ABC's Sunday Morning, Crossfire, the Rachel Maddow Show, Hardball - and the O'Reilly Factor. His articles have appeared in the Washington Post, the New York Times and the "Harvard Law Review." His latest book is Jewish Dimensions of Social Justice: Tough Moral Choices of Our Time.

Rabbi Saperstein is married to Ellen Weiss, an award-winning journalist. They have two sons, Daniel and Ari.

Rabbi Saperstein is part of a large rabbinic family. Two great uncles were Reform rabbis, and two great-grandfathers were Orthodox rabbis; his father Harold and uncle Sanford were well-known Reform rabbis; and his brother Marc is one of this generation's leading Jewish scholars.

In his book Thunder in America, network news correspondent Bob Faw wrote of Rabbi Saperstein: "Saperstein learned from political masters... [His] energy is almost legendary - no one around him worked longer hours, no one darted in and out of more meetings... Once he'd taken on an assignment, he'd always guide it safely home to completion."



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