Rabbi Burton L. Visotzky, Appleman Professor of Midrash and Interreligious Studies at The Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS) and a leader in international interfaith relations, has been named a member of the prestigious Council on Foreign Relations. Founded in 1921, the Council on Foreign Relations is an independent, nonpartisan membership organization, think tank, and publisher dedicated to being a resource for its members, government officials, business executives, journalists, educators and students, civic and religious leaders, and other interested citizens. The council's mission is to help people better understand the world and the foreign policy choices facing the United States and other countries. The council publishes the journal Foreign Affairs, the preeminent journal on international affairs and U.S. foreign policy. Rabbi Visotzky, who also serves JTS as director of the Milstein Center for Interreligious Dialogue and as Louis Stein Director of the Finkelstein Institute for Religious and Social Studies, joins JTS Board Chair Abby Joseph Cohen, JTS Board member Robert Rifkind, and JTS alumnus Rabbi Arnold Resnicoff as a member of the council.
Rabbi Visotzky has also been honored as the winner of the 2012 Goldziher Prize, a $25,000 award given "to a scholar and/or activist for significant work in promoting Jewish-Muslim interfaith dialogue, mutual understanding, and deep respect." The prize is administered by the Center for the Study of Jewish-Christian-Muslim Relations at Merrimack College, a Catholic institution located in North Andover, Massachusetts. The center named the award after Ignác Goldziher (1850–1921), a Jewish Hungarian Islamicist, who was a great admirer of Islam and the Muslim people, and became the founder of modern Arabic and Islamic studies. The biennial award is funded by the William and Mary Greve Foundation and will be presented to Rabbi Visotzky at Merrimack on October 15, 2012. The prize was first given in 2010 to Professor Mark Cohen of Princeton University, who also holds rabbinic ordination and a PhD from JTS.
In May 2012, Rabbi Visotzky will travel to Muscat, Oman, as part of the "U.S.-Pakistan Interreligious Consortium." This delegation is undertaken by Intersections International in partnership with the International Center for Religion and Diplomacy. Select religious leaders known for their interfaith commitments from across the United States will meet with their counterparts from Pakistan to break down stereotypes, build bilateral relationships, and set a religious action agenda that will then be implemented in and between the United States and Pakistan in subsequent months in an effort to reduce the tension that exists between the two countries.
"Part of the privilege of being at JTS is that it has long had a reputation for interreligious leadership. Because of this, I have been able to participate in interreligious engagement in New York City, throughout the United States, and worldwide in places as diverse as Cairo and Qatar, Madrid and Rome. I am deeply grateful to Merrimack College for recognizing my contribution to Jewish-Muslim relations. This year, God willing, I also will have the opportunity to play a small part in promoting peace with Pakistan, a region that is vital to U.S. interests. I am grateful for the opportunity to do so, and for the encouragement given to me by my selection to the Council on Foreign Relations," said Rabbi Visotzky.
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