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JCPA Plenum 2010 Speakers

Rabbi Steve Gutow- Interfaith Relations Plenary

by JCPA Plenum

Rabbi Steve GutowRabbi Steve Gutow is President and Chief Executive Officer of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, the public policy and community relations coordinating agency of the American Jewish community. In this position, Gutow has mobilized the Jewish community and advocated that the government end the genocide in Darfur, reform immigration policy, support Israel, protect individual rights, maintain and enhance anti-poverty programs, and create a sustainable environment.  Gutow has also worked diligently to foster a stronger bond among the Christian, Jewish and Muslim faiths.  For his leadership, Gutow has been named among the 20 most influential American rabbis (Newsweek, 2009) and in 2007 to the Forward 50. (The Forward, 2007)

Under Gutows’s leadership, the JCPA has become a central agency in combating hunger in America.  In 2008, he challenged Jewish and non-Jewish leaders to join him in a “food stamp challenge” – committing to eat only as much food in a week as could be purchased with $21, the average food stamp benefit.  He has helped lead environmental campaigns including “A Light Unto the Nations,” which called on Jewish individuals and organizations to conserve energy.  His commitment to building interfaith bridges has helped create important milestones such as a joint prayer that he issued with the leaders of the major Christian and Muslim umbrella bodies during the height of the Gaza War.  Steve Gutow is, at heart, a community organizer – and has helped build grassroots coalitions literally across the nation – on a broad range of issues including hunger, interfaith relations, judicial independence, and the security of Israel.  

Gutow is both an attorney and rabbi.  He practiced law in his native Texas where he also served as chair of the Dallas Jewish Community Relations Council and was the founding regional director of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s Southwest Region where he forged lasting alliances with Republicans and Democrats.  Gutow went on to become the founding executive director of the National Jewish Democratic Council, helping that agency grow to national prominence.  He was ordained by the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in 2003 and served as a pulpit rabbi at the Reconstructionist Minyan of St. Louis, where he also represented the St. Louis Rabbinical Association on the Jewish Community Relations Council of St. Louis.  At the same time, he served as Adjunct Professor of Law at St. Louis University Law School teaching a seminar on Jewish law.  In St. Louis, Gutow was one of the principal organizers of All G-ds People, a regional interfaith coalition.
 

In workshops, in speeches and in articles, he has addressed subjects including racial harmony, religious pluralism and civil liberties, the safety and security of Israel, poverty and healthcare. His article “Tikkun Olam: A Public Policy Focus” in the Fall 2001 issue of The Reconstructionist journal expressed his understanding of the underpinnings of the Jewish rationale for social justice - - something so central to Gutow’s being that in 2001 he was awarded both the Reconstructionist Student Association Prize for Social Action within RRC, and the Rabbi Devora Bartnoff Memorial Prize for Spiritually Motivated Social Action.

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