The Roger E. Joseph Prize - Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion
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The Roger E. Joseph Prize

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On the 35th anniversary of the establishment of the Roger E. Joseph Prize at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, the Joseph Family and friends have published a commemorative volume that pays tribute to the enduring vision and values of Roger E. Joseph.  The Joseph Prize is bestowed at HUC-JIR Ordination ceremonies in New York each year. 

The Roger E. Joseph Prize: 1978-2013 records the Joseph Prize’s many renowned recipients who have addressed nearly two generations of rabbis and cantors at HUC-JIR Ordination ceremonies in New York. It recounts the Joseph Prize recipients’ extraordinary efforts to eradicate racial and religious prejudice and discrimination, commemorate the Holocaust, honor the altruism of righteous rescuers, promote peace in the Middle East, combat genocide, support the victims of trauma, end hunger, and imbue the highest ethical values of human rights and social responsibility.

This book, dedicated to the memory of Burton M. Joseph, has been given to each ordinee of the Class of 2013 with the hope that its stories of courage, conscience, and compassion will be a source of inspiration for them in the years ahead.

Click here to view The Roger E. Joseph Prize: 1978-2013 >


History of Roger E. Joseph and the Joseph Prize

Roger E. Joseph was born in Minneapolis in 1917. A Phi Beta Kappa, magna cum laude graduate of the University of Minnesota, he studied Law at Harvard and Columbia Universities. He served in Europe during World War II, earned a field promotion to Captain, and was cited for bravery. After the war, Joseph returned to Minneapolis to resume his legal career. In 1951, at thirty-four, he was severely stricken with polio, which left him almost completely paralyzed. After years spent learning to care for himself, he was ultimately able to resume his law practice. Joseph was a man of deep ethical convictions and abiding idealism. Despite his own affliction, he readily shared his valiant spirit, compassionate nature, and remarkable inner strength with others. Until his death in 1966, he was active in many causes, including Temple Israel in Minneapolis, MN, the Jewish Family and Children’s Services, and National Jewish Hospital in Denver, CO.

To honor their brother’s memory, Mr. Burton M. Joseph, z”l, and Mrs. Betty Greenberg established the Roger E. Joseph Prize through a grant from the Joseph Foundation to Hebrew Union College–Jewish Institute of Religion. The prize is an international award, and since 1978, it has been presented to exceptional individuals or organizations that have made lasting contributions to the causes of human rights and Jewish survival, and whose conduct or work enhances or encourages the values and ideals of Judaism.

The first recipient was Victor Kugler, who gave refuge to Anne Frank and her family.  Other Joseph Prize honorees have included:

  • The people of Le Chambon, a Huguenot village in France, who rescued thousands of Jewish children during the Holocaust;
  • Helen Suzman, a leader of the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa;
  • Rosa Parks, pioneer of the American civil rights movement;
  • Johan Jorgen Holst, in memoriam, the Norwegian leader of the negotiating team that guided the secret talks culminating in the Israel-Palestinian Peace Accord of 1993;
  • The Humanitarian Law Center and Natasa Kandic in recognition of their commitment to the preservation of human rights, and their courageous research and dissemination of the documentation of genocide in Kosovo;
  • The Institute of Contemporary History and Wiener Library in London and the Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw, for their preservation and dissemination of historicalinformation about the destruction of European Jewry during the Holocaust;
  • Daniel Pearl, in memoriam, and The Daniel Pearl Foundation, to honor the memory andmission of Daniel Pearl, an inspiring and courageous journalist whose integrity wasgrounded in a commitment to justice and a love for humanity;
  • Chaplain Mychal Judge, in memoriam, who died ministering to New York firefighters on September 11, 2001, and The City of New York Fire Department, for their heroism and sacrifice;
  • Father Patrick Desbois, for confronting anti-Semitism, furthering Catholic-Jewish understanding, and preserving Holocaust memory by documenting the mass graves in Ukraine.


Click here to visit the Roger E. Joseph Prize website >