Politics no roadblock to Jewish praise of U.S. religious freedom envoy nominee

By Dmitriy Shapiro/JNS.org/Washington Jewish Week


After being vacant for nearly a year, the role of America’s ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom will likely soon be occupied by Rabbi David Saperstein, director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism. While his liberal political views sometimes put him at odds with conservative-leaning Jewish organizations, most observers feel Saperstein’s experience in the issues relevant to the religious freedom post make him a good fit.

Although he is “obviously on the liberal, progressive side of the political spectrum,” Saperstein “has excellent relationships across the religious spectrum both in terms of different religions and denominations but also in terms of from liberal to conservative in many faith communities,” Nathan Diament, executive director of public policy at the Orthodox Union (OU), told JNS.org.

“That wealth of experience and that wealth of knowledge is unsurpassed in someone who could fill this position,” Diament said, highlighting Saperstein’s efforts to pass the Religious Freedom and Restoration Act of 1993; the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998, which created his expected future position; and the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000.


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