Rabbi Stanley Kessler, rabbi emeritus of Beth El Temple in West Hartford, received the Lifetime Achievement Award from T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights at the organization’s annual gala, held on Monday, May 9 in New York City.
The founding rabbi of Beth El Temple, he served as spiritual leader of the Conservative synagogue from 1954 until his retirement in 1992. He was a Freedom Rider fighting for civil rights alongside Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in the 1960s. A veteran of World War II, he co-founded in 1965 Clergy and Laymen Concerned about the Vietnam War, and participated in several World Conferences on Soviet Jewry. He was ordained in 1951 at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, where he also earned a Master of Hebrew Literature and received an honorary Doctor of Divinity.
The stated mission of T’ruah is to bring together rabbis, cantors and members of the Jewish community “to protect and expand human rights in North America, Israel, and the occupied Palestinian territories.”