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Congregation honors 7 students on King's birthday

Rabbi David Saperstein
Rabbi David Saperstein
     The Hebrew Congregation of St. Thomas will again observe Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday with a special service on Jan. 14 honoring seven high school students whose lives exemplify Dr. King's teachings.
      The ceremony will be part of the Erev Shabbat service, which begins at 6:30 p.m. Rabbi David Saperstein will be the guest speaker. The public is invited to the service and to the special Oneg Shabbat at Lilienfeld House afterwards.
      The seven students to be honored are:
      -- Clytie Brown, Charlotte Amalie High School
      -- Chantel Z. Greene, Wesleyan Academy
      -- Cassadie Peterson, Antilles School
      -- Alejandro Quetel, Seventh-Day Adventist School
      -- Monica S. Scott, All Saints Cathedral School
      -- Arturo R. Watlington III, Sts. Peter and Paul School
      -- Derecia Wilson, Ivanna Eudora Kean High
      All seven were nominated for the award by their principals or guidance counselors. In addition to the recognition, the students will receive a $500 U.S. Savings Bond and a special book, "Shared Dreams, Martin Luther King and the Jewish Community."
      Rabbi Saperstein is a lawyer, as well as a rabbi, and is the director of the Religious Action Center of the Union for Reform Judaism. He is an outspoken champion of human rights and regularly speaks out on many of the social issues facing our world. He is a dynamic speaker with a powerful message.
     Here is Rabbi Saperstein's official biography:
     
     Rabbi David Saperstein is the Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism. Described in a Washington Post profile as the "quintessential religious lobbyist on Capitol Hill," he represents the national Reform Jewish Movement to Congress and the administration. During his 30-year tenure as Director of the Center, Rabbi Saperstein has headed several national religious coalitions.
     He currently co-chairs the Coalition to Preserve Religious Liberty, comprised of over 50 national religious denominations and educational organizations, and serves on the boards of numerous national organizations including the NAACP and People For the American Way. In 1999, Rabbi Saperstein was elected as the first Chair of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom created by a unanimous vote of Congress.
     Under Rabbi Saperstein's tutelage, writes J.J. Goldberg in his book, Jewish Power, the Religious Action Center "has become one of the most powerful Jewish bodies in Washington, second only to AIPAC." The Center not only advocates on a broad range of social justice issues but provides extensive legislative and programmatic materials used by synagogues, federations and Jewish community relations councils nationwide, and coordinates social action education programs that train nearly 3,000 Jewish adults, youth, rabbinic and lay leaders each year.
     Also an attorney, Rabbi Saperstein teaches seminars in both First Amendment Church-State Law and in Jewish Law at Georgetown University Law School.
     A prolific writer and speaker, Rabbi Saperstein has appeared on a number of television news and talk shows including Nightline, Oprah, Lehrer News Hour and ABC's Sunday Morning. His articles have appeared in the Washington Post, the New York Times and the "Harvard Law Review." His latest book is Jewish Dimensions of Social Justice: Tough Moral Choices of Our Time.
     Rabbi Saperstein is part of a large rabbinic family. Great uncles on both sides of his family were Reform rabbis, two great-grandfathers were Orthodox rabbis, his father Harold and uncle Sanford were well-known Reform rabbis, and his brother Marc is one of this generation's leading Jewish scholars.
     Rabbi Saperstein is married to Ellen Weiss, senior editor of the national news desk at National Public Radio. They have two sons, Daniel and Ari.
     In his book Thunder in America, network news correspondent Bob Faw wrote of Rabbi Saperstein: "Saperstein learned from political masters...[His] energy was almost legendary -- no one around him worked longer hours, no one darted in and out of more meetings... Once he'd taken on an assignment, he'd always guide it safely home to completion."

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