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2014 Ben J. Altheimer Lecture on Judaism and Civil Rights

Rabbi Josh LesserCONWAY, Ark. (February 5, 2014) – The 2014 Ben J. Altheimer Lecture on Judaism and Civil Rights at Hendrix College presents Jews and “I Do’s” by Rabbi Joshua Lesser on Tuesday, March 4, at 7 p.m. in Reves Recital Hall in the Trieschmann Fine Arts Building.

Supported by a grant from the Ben J. Altheimer Charitable Foundation, Inc., the annual Judaism and Civil Rights Lecture is intended to highlight the role of Jews and/or Judaism in the pursuit of civil rights.

The lecture is free and open to the public. A reception will follow in Trieschmann Gallery. For more information, contact Hendrix religious studies professor Dr. Robert Williamson at 501-505-1559 or

About the Lecture

Progressive Jewish voices have been in the forefront of religious communities advocating for marriage equality.  This effort was first about advocating for civil rights for LGBQ people and then for their religious rites and rights. Blending activism and spirituality, progressive Jewish movements have played a key role in what has been a rapidly changing environment while helping broaden the religious nature of the playing field and the conversation of marriage equality.

In the backdrop, there are important questions of the separation of church and state in relation to marriage, questioning heteronormative relationship values, privilege and the institution of marriage itself.  The social justice opportunities of the civil rights movement for marriage equality has the possibility for all of us to reexamine and reshape a foundational institution of our society.

About the Speaker

Rabbi Lesser is the founder of Congregation Bet Haverim in Atlanta and a pioneering advocate for LGBT rights in Judaism and beyond. An activist from an early age, Rabbi Lesser is a founding member of the Faith Alliance of Metro Atlanta and served as the co-chair of Georgians against Discrimination, formed in opposition to Georgia’s marriage amendment. Dedicated to human rights for all, Lessere has served on the boards of the Reconstructionist movement’s Tikkun Olam Committee and the Anti-Defamation League. He is also rabbinic editor of the groundbreaking Torah Queeries: A Weekly Torah Commentary (NYU Press, 2009).

Founded in 1876, Hendrix College is a national leader in engaged liberal arts and sciences education. For the sixth consecutive year, Hendrix was named one of the country’s “Up and Coming” liberal arts colleges by U.S. News and World Report.  Hendrix is featured in the latest edition of Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think about Colleges, as well as the 2014 Princeton Review’s The Best 378 Colleges, Forbes magazine's list of America's Top Colleges, and the 2014 Fiske Guide to Colleges. Hendrix has been affiliated with the United Methodist Church since 1884. For more information, visit