Rabbi Steven B. Jacobs
Throughout his more than 45-year career as a Rabbi, Steven B. Jacobs has participated in a variety of important historical events. In 2001, he was awarded the Walter Cronkite Faith and Freedom Award. Rabbi Steven Jacobs, who would go on to found the Progressive Faith Foundation, began preaching on the values of racial tolerance and interfaith acceptance in the 1960s, drawing the attention of Reverend Jesse Jackson in 1967. Rev. Jackson introduced him to Martin Luther King, Jr. Rabbi Steven B. Jacobs and King once walked hand in hand during a march for civil rights.
In 1975, after the fall of Saigon, Rabbi Jacobs saw a similarity between the families and children fleeing Vietnam and the Jewish refugees who had fled Nazi Germany. As a result, he traveled to Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, and Hong Kong with the goal of finding homes for Vietnamese refugees. Thousands of displaced Vietnamese were welcomed into Jewish-American homes and synagogues as a result.
Rev. Jackson and Rabbi Steven B. Jacobs had become great friends, and Rev. Jackson began to invite him on an array of Interfaith Peace missions to Middle Eastern countries, such as Israel, Syria, and Lebanon. He met with numerous high-level authorities, including Yasser Arafat and the leaders of the Hamas political party. In 1999, he and Rev. Jackson traveled as part of an interfaith delegation to Yugoslavia to discuss the release of American prisoners of war. The mission endeavored to meet with Slobodan Milošević, the President of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia at the time. Although some members of the Jewish community objected to negotiations with Milošević, whom they believed to be guilty of crimes against humanity, he drew upon his dedication to improving the state of the world and participated in the mission nonetheless. It was successful in securing the release of the American soldiers.
Today, Rabbi Steven B. Jacobs continues his commitment to bringing people of difference races and religions together. He established the Progressive Faith Foundation to focus on connecting the people of the Abrahamic faiths: Jews, Christians, and Muslims.