Rabbi Eugene Weiner, 70

‘Compassionate’ scholar worked for civil rights in America coexistence in Israel.

Rabbi Eugene Weiner, an American-born scholar who marched for civil rights in this country and worked for Jewish-Arab cooperation in Israel, died Sunday of cancer in Haifa. He was 70.

Rabbi Weiner, who had studied at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America and Columbia University, made aliyah in 1969. He settled in Haifa, teaching sociology at Haifa University and serving as chairman of the sociology department. He was voted the best lecturer in the department by students for three consecutive years.

Rabbi Weiner was a co-founder of The Abraham Fund (now known as The Abraham Fund Initiatives), the largest organization in Israel that promotes coexistence between Israel’s Jewish and Arab populations.

“Gene’s compassion affected thousands of lives over the year,” according to a statement issued by The Abraham Fund Initiatives.

In 1965 Rabbi Weiner was among three rabbis who took part in the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr’s historical civil right march in Selma, Ala.

Rabbi Weiner, who three years ago founded a World Jewish Peace Corps program to encourage volunteer work by young Jews around the world, earlier served as assistant to the chancellor of JTS and projects manager of the Jewish Federation of Greater New York.

Upon retirement, he spent three years in Moscow coordinating educational and cultural programs under the auspices of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee.

Rabbi Weiner, the author of three books, was a founder of the International Institute for Mediation and Historical Conciliation, a nongovernmental organization that seeks to resolve “traditional animosities.”

“Gene was anti-charismatic leader,” said Hillel Levine president of the international institute and professor of Jewish history and sociology at Boston College. “He was against standing on a granstand and pontificating, but there was charisma in the way he was able to resolve conflicts and bring people together.”

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