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Israel Mowshowitz

Rabbi Dr. Israel Mowshowitz (1914–1991), born in Poland was an Orthodox rabbi in the United States. He emigrated with his family in 1929, attended Yeshiva University for his undergraduate degree and was ordained at its Rabbi Yitzhak Elchanan Theological Seminary in 1937. He earned a Ph.D. in psychology from Duke University and Yeshiva University awarded him an honorary doctorate in 1966. He served synagogues affiliated with the Conservative movement, first in Durham, North Carolina, and then at Omaha, Nebraska. In 1949, he was appointed rabbi of Hillcrest Jewish Center in Queens, New York, becoming rabbi emeritus in 1983. Respected in both the Orthodox and Conservative movements, Mowshowitz rose to become arguably the most prominent Jewish communal leader in New York. He was a founder of the International Synagogue at Kennedy International Airport and served as its honorary president. He also served on the boards of numerous charitable, interfaith, and interracial organizations in New York. He was active in the American civil rights movement and joined Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in his march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, in March 1965. Mowshowitz helped establish Crossroads Africa, a pilot project that was a forerunner of the Peace Corps. In the 1960s, Mowshowitz was the president of the New York Board of Rabbis, and in that capacity, became a nationally quoted spokesman on political and social issues impacting Jewish interests. New York Governor Mario M. Cuomo, a Roman Catholic called Mowshowitz "my rabbi." He held the title of special assistant for community affairs in the governor's office, where he negotiated issues between the state and religious groups. According to Israel Miller, head of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, "[Mowshowitz] was the one all of us would call when we needed something done of a political nature." Mowshowitz traveled throughout the world on behalf of Jewish causes. In 1956, he was a member of one of the first delegations of rabbis to visit the Soviet Union to investigate the conditions of Soviet Jewry. He also traveled to Poland, South Africa, Iran, Hungary, Poland, Romania, and other countries on similar missions, including a study trip to 13 countries with the National Conference of Christians and Jews. The New York Board of Rabbis established the annual Rabbi Israel and Libby Mowshowitz Award, to honor both them and rabbis who excel in public service. He wrote two books, Fires to Warm Us (1978) and To Serve in Faithfulness (1975). With Debra Orenstein he co-authored, From Generation to Generation (1992).


Prayer of the Guest Chaplain of the U.S. House of Representatives: Rabbi Israel Mowshowitz on 15 March 1973

Contributed on: 09 Mar 2024 by Israel Mowshowitz | the Congressional Record of the United States of America |

The Opening Prayer given in the U.S. House of Representatives on 15 March 1973. . . .