Rabbi Arthur Waskow has been one of the creators and leaders of Jewish renewal since writing the original Freedom Seder in 1969. In 1983, he founded and has since been director of The Shalom Center -- a prophetic voice in Jewish, multireligious, and American life that draws on Jewish and other spiritual and religious teachings to work for justice, peace, and the healing of our wounded earth.
His books Seasons of Our Joy (on the Jewish festival cycle); Godwrestling: Round 2 (on new interpretations of the Bible); Down-to-Earth Judaism: Food, Sex, Money, and the Rest of Life; and, with his wife Rabbi Phyllis Berman, A Time for Every Purpose Under Heaven (on the Jewish life-cycle) have all brought new spiritual depth and newly progressive political substance to Jewish life.
Rabbi Waskow initiated The Shalom Center's Green Menorah project involving religious communities in encouraging at both the household / congregational level and at the public policy/ activism level what needs to be done to address the climate crisis by ending the over-burning of fossil fuels, and facing the political and economic power-centers that feed and intensify this addiction.
He has pioneered in developing the theology and practice of Eco-Judaism in books like Torah of the Earth, in curricula and ceremonies for various festivals and life-cycle markers, and in the daily practice of eco-kosher consumption of food, coal, oil, plastics, and other products of the Earth. He has served on the stewardship committee of the Green Hevra -- a network of jewish environmental organizations -- and on the steering committee of Interfaith Moral Action on Climate. See also his pioneering article, “Jewish Environmental Ethics: Adam and Adamah,” in Oxford Handbook of Jewish Ethics and Morality (Dorff & Crane, eds.; Oxford Univ. Press, 2013).
In 1996 Rabbi Waskow was named by the United Nations one of 40 “Wisdom Keepers” -- religious and intellectual leaders from all over the world who met with the Habitat II conference in Istanbul. In 2001, he was presented the Abraham Joshua Heschel Award by the Jewish Peace Fellowship. In 2005, he was named one of the "Forward Fifty" by the Forward, a leading American Jewish newspaper, In 2008 he was named one of the 50 most influential American rabbis by Newsweek.In 2014 he was honored by T'ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights with its first-ever Lifetime Achievement Award as a Human Rights Hero.
He is one co-author, along with Karen Armstrong, Sister Joan Chittister, OSB, Murshid Saadi Shakur Chisti, and Rabbi Phyllis Berman, of The Tent of Abraham: Jewish, Christian, and Muslim Stories of Hope and Peace (Beacon, 2006). The book draws on the saga of Abraham to encourage peacemaking, shared celebration, and shared political action among the three Abrahamic communities in America.
Since 1969 he has worked for a two-state peace settlement between Israel and a Palestinian state, in the context of a regional peace treaty involving all Arab states, israel, and a new Palestine. In 2002 he joined in founding Rabbis for Human Rights/ North America (now T'ruah) as secretary of its board and steering committee, and was instrumental in urging it to work on human rights issues in the US (especially torture) as well as supporting RHR-Israel's work on human rights in Israel and Palestine.
Waskow was legislative assistant to a US Congressman from 1959 to 1961; then a Fellow of the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington DC till 1977 and of the Public Resource Center till 1982. During those years he wrote seven books on US public policy in foreign affairs and military strategy, race relations, and energy policy, and was among the leaders of the movement to end the Vietnam War. He was elected an antiwar, anti-racist delegate from the District of Columbia to the Democratic National Convention of 1968, and was co-author of the Call to Resist Illegitimate Authority, supporting draft resistance to the Vietnam War.
He taught at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College from 1982 till 1989 and has taught as a Visiting Professor in the departments of religion at Swarthmore, Vassar, Temple University, and Drew University.