May 12, 2015

Gillibrand Nominates Rabbi Arthur Schneier For The Presidential Medal Of Freedom

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today announced the nomination of Rabbi Arthur Schneier for the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian award. In a letter to the President, Gillibrand celebrated Rabbi Schneier’s decades-long fight for human rights around the world. The letter was also signed by Senators Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Robert Casey (D-PA). 

“Rabbi Schneier has worked for 50 years on behalf of human rights around the world,” the Senators wrote in their letter. “Honoring Rabbi Schneier with the Presidential Medal of Freedom would highlight Rabbi Schneier’s work on behalf of freedom, tolerance, and universal human rights.  We ask that you please consider him for this highest honor.”

“In 1981, Rabbi Schneier led the first interfaith mission to China, and in 1988 was appointed by President Bill Clinton to serve as one of the three American religious leaders to conduct the first dialogue on religious freedom with then Chinese President Jiang Zemin. Rabbi Schneier was also instrumental in restoring Jewish culture to the Soviet Union.”

A copy of the letter to the President nominating Rabbi Schneier included below.

Dear Mr. President,

We write to ask you to consider bestowing the Presidential Medal of Freedom upon Rabbi Arthur Schneier.  This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Appeal of Conscience Foundation, which Rabbi Schneier founded in 1965 in response to the plight of Soviet Jews.  This year also marks the 70th anniversary of Rabbi Schneier’s own liberation from the Nazi regime.

Rabbi Schneier has worked for 50 years on behalf of human rights around the world. Through the Appeal of Conscience Foundation he has worked to advance the causes of religious freedom, tolerance, peace, and democracy and in light of current events, it is now more important than ever to recognize those who oppose all forms of extremism and hatred. 

In 1981, Rabbi Schneier led the first interfaith mission to China, and in 1988 was appointed by President Bill Clinton to serve as one of the three American religious leaders to conduct the first dialogue on religious freedom with then Chinese President Jiang Zemin.  Rabbi Schneier was also instrumental in restoring Jewish culture to the Soviet Union.

As a Holocaust survivor, Rabbi Schneier knows very well the horrors of genocide and “ethnic cleansing”, and took the initiative to work to save Muslims in the Balkans years before the Western World was focused on the atrocities committed there.

Honoring Rabbi Schneier with the Presidential Medal of Freedom would highlight Rabbi Schneier’s work on behalf of freedom, tolerance, and universal human rights.  We ask that you please consider him for this highest honor.