As a young child living under Nazi occupation in Vienna and Hungary during World War II, Rabbi Arthur Schneier saw the atrocities that mankind was capable of committing. He vowed that if he survived he would change the world into one of tolerance, where people of all faiths could coexist under the principle “live and let live.” In 1965 he founded the Appeal of Conscience Foundation and became internationally known for his leadership on behalf of religious freedom, human rights and tolerance.
Rabbi Arthur Schneier received the Presidential Citizens Medal from President Clinton for “his service as an international envoy for four administrations and as a Holocaust survivor, devoting a lifetime to overcoming forces of hatred and intolerance” and Department of State Special Recognition Award for “his ecumenical work in favor of mutual understanding, tolerance and peace.” The United States Senate honored him for his half of century of work on behalf of religious freedom and interreligious cooperation.
Pope Francis conferred on Rabbi Arthur Schneier the rare papal knighthood of St. Sylvester for “his unceasing work to promote peace and mutual understanding.”
Since 1962 Rabbi Arthur Schneier has been the Senior Rabbi of the 129-year old historic landmark Park East Synagogue where in 2008 he hosted Pope Benedict XVI, the first Papal visit to a synagogue in the U.S. He has also hosted the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, Patriarch Alexey I of Moscow, Metropolitan Kirill I, Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia, Grand Muftis of Central Asia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, Secretary General, World Muslim League, Muhammad bin Abdul Karim bin Abdulaziz Al-Issa.
He has served as U.S. Alternate Representative to the U.N. General Assembly, Chairman, U.S. Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad. Rabbi Arthur Schneier was one of three religious leaders appointed by President Clinton to start the first dialogue on religious freedom with President Jiang Zemin and Chinese leaders. He was appointed by U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan to the High-Level Group UN “Alliance of Civilizations”, and serves as Ambassador of the U.N. Alliance of Civilizations.
Rabbi Arthur Schneier was one of the speakers at Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s first Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom conference in Washington, DC (July 2018).
Founder, Seminar on Religion for the US Department of State Foreign Service Institute (1981). Secretary of State, Hilary Rodham Clinton presented the U.S. Dept. of State Award in recognition of “his commitment and partnership for over 30 years in helping foreign professionals better understand the complex issues surrounding religious life and the right to religious freedom in the countries in which they serve.”
Known as Rabbi/Diplomat, Rabbi Schneier was the initiator of the UN Resolution for the Protection of Religious Sites (2001) and on the 80th Anniversary of Kristallnacht in his keynote address to the Austrian Parliament stated, “People should not have to risk their lives when going to pray in churches, mosques, synagogues or temples.”
At Rabbi’s invitation Secretary General Antonio Guterres joined government and religious leaders at the United Against Hate Rally sponsored by the Appeal of Conscience Foundation (ACF) at Park East Synagogue, after Rabbi Arthur Schneier led ACF solidarity and humanitarian mission to The Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, (October 31, 2018) United Against Hate Agreement for the Protection of Houses of Worship signed with Muslim World League in presence of Dr. Rohan Perera, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the Republic of Sri Lanka to the UN and Craig John Hawke, Permanent Representative, New Zealand Permanent Mission to the UN.
Rabbi Arthur Schneier has led 85 Appeal of Conscience missions to former Soviet Union and Russia and numerous missions to China, Europe, Africa, Middle East and Latin America. He has convened religious leaders of former Yugoslavia in Switzerland followed by religious leaders of Kosovo in Vienna to use their influence to halt the ethnic conflicts. Rabbi cosponsored with the Ecumenical Patriarch “Peace and Tolerance” conferences to further peaceful coexistence in the Balkans and Central Asia and led ACF delegations to Buenos Aires, Argentina during the “dirty war” to seek the release of prisoners and the first interfaith mission to Havana, Cuba to establish ties with Cuban religious communities and seek the easing of Government restrictions.
Rabbi Arthur Schneier member of the U.S. Delegation for the Return of the Crown of St. Stephen to Hungary, 1978, was a member of the U.S. delegation, Stockholm Forum for Prevention of Genocide. He has been named Officier de la Lègion d’honneur of France and is the recipient of high honors of Albania, Austria, Croatia, Germany, Hungary, Morocco, Italy, Poland, Russia, Spain, City of Vienna and was presented the Guru Nanak Interfaith Prize; Athenagoras Award. He has received eleven honorary doctorates from U.S. and foreign universities. The Nizmani Ganjavi International Award for “his role in fostering inter religious dialogue,” 2018, Responsible Leadership Award for “A Lifetime of Achievement,” Muslim World League, 2019,
His alma mater, Yeshiva University, established the Rabbi Arthur Schneier Program for International Affairs and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, Asia Society, U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum Committee on Conscience and a Vice President of the World Jewish Congress.
He is married to Elisabeth Nordmann Schneier.