Rabbi Peter H. Schweitzer has been a leader of The City Congregation for Humanistic Judaism since 1992 when he joined the congregation a year after its founding. For the next fourteen years he offered his services to the congregation as a volunteer, while working as a clinical social worker for Jewish Board of Family and Children's Services in Brooklyn.
As the congregation approached one hundred households, it became clear that professionalization would be necessary to secure the congregation's future. In 2005, the Congregation was awarded a challenge grant that became the catalyst for members of The City Congregation to support the congregation's growth and stability with the hiring of Rabbi Schweitzer.
Click here to read Moment Magazine's feature (Aug/Sept 2007) about Rabbi Schweitzer and his collection.
Rabbi Schweitzer is a recognized leader of Humanistic Judaism. He is a member of the Editorial Board of the journal Humanistic Judaism and is the former president of the Association of Humanistic Rabbis. He contributes the Humanistic perspective to Moment Magazine's"Ask the Rabbi" column. He also has written a column called New Jewish Rituals for Jewish Currents magazine.
Rabbi Schweitzer was ordained in 1979 from the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion and went on to serve a congregation in Indianapolis. But doubts arose as he questioned the message he was espousing. He left the rabbinate and returned to New York City where he found new interests in the publishing business and then social work.
Even though he left the rabbinate, he continued to foster and study Jewish identity. For 25 years, he amassed one of the most significant collections of Jewish Americana, with more than 10,000 items and artifacts, which he donated to the National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia in 2005.
In 1992, when he first learned about Humanistic Judaism, he realized that he had found a home again. "Humanistic Judaism was not a choice in my youth," Rabbi Schweitzer said, "otherwise it would have been very compelling. But now we can raise our children in this movement and also find a meaningful identity for ourselves. Equally important, today we have our own rabbinic institution. Young women and men can choose this route and not take the long away around that I did."
Rabbi Schweitzer received his B.A. from Oberlin College, his ordination from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion and his M.S.W. from New York University. He resides on the Upper West Side in Manhattan.
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