In 1992, the world lost a humanitarian interfaith leader when Rabbi Marc H. Tanenbaum died suddenly of heart disease. Marc was a Jew and a Rabbi, but his congregation was humanity: every religion, every color, every country.
He was instrumental in organizing the international rescue effort for the Vietnamese “boat people”. He was the only rabbi at Vatican Council II and participated in the drafting of Nostra Aetate, a document which repudiated anti-Semitism and called for fraternal dialogue between Christians and Jews. He helped organize an emergency relief effort for victims of the Nigerian-Biafran Conflict and aided refugees from Ireland, Cyprus, Lebanon, Uganda and Bangladesh. Great universities honored him and called him “the human rights Rabbi.”
Marc’s faith and profound belief in the sanctity of each person’s life guided his interreligious and humanitarian efforts. His was an urgent voice against the destruction of human life in the name of religion. When Marc died, those that worked with him – who knew him and loved him – wanted nothing more than to see his vital work carried on.
In late 1992, Dr. Georgette F. Bennett, Marc’s widow, founded the Tanenbaum Center for Interreligious Understanding (originally named the Rabbi Marc H. Tanenbaum Foundation), which began as a one-woman operation out of a New York City apartment. Since then, Tanenbaum has evolved into a vibrant, innovative organization.
Initially, they focused on interreligious dialogue and promoting studies aimed at ending theologically-based bias. As Tanenbaum began to grow, they learned that ignorance and misunderstandings were plaguing their daily interactions at work and in school.
They discovered that the religious biases they were exploring had real world implications that weren’t being addressed. Out of this realization, their present-day programs began to take shape.
Through their programs, Tanenbaum addresses the most burning issues of their day. Every person who fears for his or her own safety as a result of terrorism or war; every person who has felt prejudged or discriminated against because of his or her religion; and every child who has been picked on because of his or her religious attire or practices, understands the need for their work.
Tanenbaum’s vision is a safe world in which religious differences are respected and daily life reflects the highest values of their shared religious and ethical traditions. Through their practical programs, they work to change institutional and individual behaviors, bringing reality closer to their vision.
Mission: They are a secular, non-sectarian nonprofit that promotes mutual respect with practical programs that bridge religious difference and combat prejudice in schools, workplaces, health care settings and areas of armed conflict.
Strategy: Tanenbaum designs trainings and educational resources to change the way people treat one another and to celebrate the richness of their country’s diversity. In all their work, Tanenbaum is inspired not only by The Golden Rule – to treat others as you would like to be treated – but also by the Platinum Rule – to treat others as they want to be treated.
Thought Leadership for the Global Community
At Tanenbaum, Education experts prepare educators to teach respect for religious diversity. The result? Kids learn that being different is normal and interesting, not something to be feared.
Their Health Care experts train doctors to respond to their patients’ religious needs. The result? Patients get better care because doctors address important traditions including diet and fasting, birth and death rituals, and prohibitions against transplants, transfusions or other treatments.
In global corporations, Workplace experts help companies counter prejudice at work and welcome talent from all beliefs to the office, from atheists to people of minority faiths. The result? Happier employees and more profitable workplaces.
Their Conflict Resolution experts empower international and multi-faith activists motivated by their religious beliefs to confront violence and pursue peace. The result? More effective peacebuilding in conflicts worldwide
Where is Tanenbaum Center for Interreligious Understanding