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Schulweis was born in Bronx, New York in 1925 to secular parents who respected Zionism and Jewish traditions. His early Jewish education was influenced by his grandfather, Rabbi Avraham Rezak, who introduced him to the Talmud. In 1945, Schulweis graduated Yeshiva University with a degree in philosophy. At the time of his graduation, the Orthodox leadership had been engaged in a feud with Mordecai Kaplan, who was excommunicated and had his books burned. Curious about his teachings, Schulweis enrolled in the Jewish Theological Seminary, where he studied under Kaplan and Abraham Joshua Heschel. Schulweis also studied philosophy at New York University, where he met his wife Malkah.
Schulweis's first pulpit was Temple Beth Abraham, a Conservative Jewish congregation in Oakland, California in 1952. Among the innovations he introduced was the inclusion of women in minyanim and bat mitzvah ceremonies for girls. Instead of sermons, he used the alloted time for questions and answers. Schulweis has been criticized by the religious right for his interfaith and conversion programs, and open inclusion of homosexuals. Rabbi Meir Kahane criticized Schulweis for allowing a pro-PLO Arab Knesset member to speak at his synagogue, while refusing to extend the same opportunity to Kahane, who was also a Knesset member at the time.Newsweek magazine called him "the leading Conservative rabbi of his generation" and placed him 13th on their list of the Top 50 Rabbis in America. Though he is affiliated with the Conservative Movement he is considered one of the greatest authorities and theologians of Reconstructionist Judaism today.
Human rights and Jewish activism
Schulweis founded the Jewish World Watch, a human rights watch group. He was instrumental in the creation of the Chavurah movement in the late 1960s. Schulweis served as technical advisor for Judaism-themed episodes of the Simpsons
- Evil and the Morality of God, (1983)
- In God's Mirror: Reflections and Essays, (1990)
- To Those Who Can't Believe: Overcoming the Obstacles to Faith, (1994)
- Meditations and Prayers for the Renewal of the Body and the Renewal of the Spirit, (2000)
- Finding Each Other in Judaism: Meditations on the Rites of Passage from Birth to Immortality, (2001)
- When You Lie Down and When You Rise Up: Nighstand Meditations, (2001)
- Conscience: The Duty to Obey and the Duty to Disobey, (2008)
- ↑ Uncomfortable Questions for Comfortable Jews, Meir Kahane, p.40
- ↑ Rabbi Harold M. Schulweis Biography from Valley Beth Shalom