Rabbi Arthur Schneier is internationally known for his leadership on behalf of religious freedom, human rights and tolerance, with specific interest in China, Russia, Central Europe and the Balkans. Founder and President of the Appeal of Conscience Foundation (1965) and spiritual leader of New York’s Park East Synagogue (1962), he was awarded the Presidential Citizens Medal by President William J. Clinton, citing him for “his service as an international envoy for four administrations” and as a Holocaust survivor, “devoting a lifetime to overcoming forces of hatred and intolerance.” Recipient of U.S. Department of State Special Recognition Award for “…his ecumenical work in favor of mutual understanding, tolerance and peace….”
A Holocaust survivor, Rabbi Schneier is known for his pioneering role in the struggle on behalf of Soviet Jewry and the rebuilding of Jewish religious life in Russia, the Ukraine and Eastern Europe. He has successfully negotiated the return of the Moscow Synagogue to the Jewish community and was instrumental in the restoration of the Ohel Rachel Synagogue in Shanghai. As part of President Clinton’s delegation to China, Rabbi Schneier was privileged to present the Ohel Rachel Synagogue with the first Torah scroll in more than 50 years, donated by Park East Synagogue.
A staunch supporter of Israel he has had personal contacts with Prime Ministers Begin, Rabin, Shamir, Peres, Netanyahu, Barak and Sharon to help the struggle on behalf of Soviet Jewry and peace in the Middle East.
A U.S. Alternate Representative to the U.N. General Assembly (President Reagan) and Chairman of the U.S. Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad (President George H. Bush), Rabbi Schneier initiated the Resolution for the Protection of Religious Sites, adopted by the U.N. General Assembly (2001) and was a member of the U.S. delegation to the Stockholm International Forum for the Prevention of Genocide, Sweden (President George W. Bush, 2004.) Member of the High-Level Group, United Nations, Alliance of Civilizations, appointed by the Secretary General Kofi Annan.
Rabbi Schneier convened six international conferences: the Dialogue Among Civilizations Forum that brought together 9 heads of state from Eastern Europe in Ohrid, Macedonia (2003-co-sponsored with UNESCO and the President of Macedonia); Kosovo: Conference on Peace and Tolerance in Vienna, where for the first time religious leaders of the Muslim, Serbian Orthodox and Catholic communities met face to face (1999); Yugoslavia:the Religious Summit on the Former Yugoslavia in Switzerland and the Conflict Resolution Conference in Vienna, mobilizing religious leaders to halt the bloodshed in former Yugoslavia (1992, 1995); the Peace and Tolerance Conference in Istanbul, Turkey in cooperation with the Turkish Government and the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I (1994). The November 2005 Peace and Tolerance II conference in Istanbul, Turkey, was co-sponsored by His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I and focused on Kosovo-southeastern Europe, Central Asia and the Caucasus.
Keynote speaker on Christian, Jewish and Muslim dialogue: Inter-Religious Conference convened by King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, Madrid 2008; Religious Leaders of the G8, Cologne, 2007; World Conference on Religion, Moscow, 2006; Islam in a Pluralistic World Conference, Vienna 2005; Asian Religious Summit, Bangkok, 2002,the Vatican.
In April 2008 Rabbi Schneier hosted His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI during his historic and unprecedented first visit to Park East Synagogue, marking the first time a Pope has visited a Synagogue in the United States and only the third time any Pope has ever visited a Jewish house of worship.
Founder of Park East Day School (early childhood through 8th grade) now known as Rabbi Arthur Schneier Park East Day School where many of the Israeli diplomats’ children have been enrolled.
Recipient of eleven honorary doctorates from U.S. and European universities. His alma mater, Yeshiva University, honored him by establishing the Rabbi Arthur Schneier Center for International Affairs in 2004.
Member of Council on Foreign Relations; Asia Society; United Nations Development Corporation; United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Committee on Conscience; Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations; Joint Distribution Committee; Past President and Honorary Chairman, Religious Zionists of America, Honorary Chairman, World Jewish Congress American Section.
Rabbi Schneier is the recipient of The Grand Decoration of Honor in Gold with Star for Service to the Republic of Austria; Order of the Republic of Hungary; Dr. Karl Renner Prize of the City of Vienna; Order of St. Daniel of Moscow (Moscow Patriarchate, Russian Orthodox Church); Religious Liberty Award.
Born in Vienna, Austria, March 20, 1930, Rabbi Schneier lived under Nazi occupation in Budapest during World War II and arrived in the United States in 1947. He is married to Elisabeth Nordmann Schneier