A Brand Plucked from the Fire

The Life of Rabbi Herman E. Schaalman

By Richard Damashek

Format: Hardcover



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A Brand Plucked from the Fire
The Life of Rabbi Herman E. Schaalman
Richard Damashek
Born in Munich in 1916, Rabbi Schaalman was one of five young rabbinic students who came to the United States in 1935 to study at Hebrew Union College, Reform Judaism's seminary in Cincinnati. Narrowly escaping what might have been his death at the hands of the Nazis, he went on to become one of the most distinguished rabbis of his generation. Convinced that the Holocaust was the result of a failure of people to accept and tolerate others, he has devoted his life to promoting interfaith understanding and tolerance.
During his more than thirty years as a rabbi in Chicago, he became a well-respected leader in Reform Judaism. In the 1980's, he became close friends with Cardinal Joseph Bernardin, with whom he worked to promote positive interfaith relations. So close was their friendship, that when Bernardin was on this deathbed, he asked Schaalman to participate in his funeral. Schaalman agreed, and, for the first time in history, a rabbi spoke at the funeral of a Cardinal.
Rabbi Schaalman has devoted his life to the good of his fellow Jews and for humanity. In recognition of his lifetime involvement in interfaith activities, the Chicago Theological Seminary established an academic chair in his name. In his own eyes, his two most significant achievements are his work in establishing the first camp of the Reform Movement at Oconomowoc, Wisconsin, and his election as president of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, the Reform movement's rabbinic assembly with membership worldwide.
Rabbi Schaalman continues to be the loving husband of his wife, Lotte, to whom he has been married seventy-one years. They have two children, Susan and Michael, and three grandchildren, Johanna, Keren and Jeremy. He continues to be active life as teacher and community leader and to work on behalf of creating a better world in which people can live together in peace and harmony.
About the Author
Richard Damashek is a retired college English professor with a long list of publications. During the last eight years, he has conducted more than 100 hours of interviews with Rabbi Schaalman and dozens more with his colleagues, friends and associates. Through his devotion to research, he has located important documents that include Schaalman's first few years as a rabbinic student at Hebrew Union College, his first rabbinic post in Cedar Rapids, his work in establishing the first Reform Jewish summer camp (1951-1952), and other significant documents over the last half century.