Rabbi Abie Ingber, a pioneering advocate of immigrant and refugee rights whose life’s work has centered on bringing people together for a better world, will deliver Roosevelt University’s fall 2016 Commencement address and receive an honorary degree.
The founder and director of the Center for Interfaith Community Engagement at Xavier University in Ohio, Rabbi Ingber is known globally for his work on behalf of refugees and his engagement with people of all faiths and ages. During this work, he has met with three Popes, President Barack Obama in the White House, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, human rights activist Elie Wiesel, as well as with refugees around the world.
Rabbi Ingber will address graduates during the university’s 153rd Commencement ceremony that begins at 11 a.m. on Friday, Dec. 16 in the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University, 50 E. Congress Parkway, Chicago.
Roosevelt University was founded on social justice and inclusion, which are principles that Rabbi Ingber has steadfastly pursued for his entire career,” said Roosevelt University President Ali Malekzadeh.
“We are fortunate to have someone who so strongly believes in and has lived these values as our graduation speaker, and we are proud to recognize his many accomplishments,” said Malekzadeh, who will present Rabbi Ingber with Roosevelt’s highest honorary degree, the Doctor of Social Justice, honoris causa.
The son of Holocaust survivors, Rabbi Ingber grew up in Canada and received an undergraduate degree in microbiology and immunology form McGill University, and a master’s degree and rabbinic ordination from Hebrew Union College.
As a teen, he talked his way into John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s bedroom during their 1969 “Bed-in” for peace in Montreal, convincing them to sign a petition for Russian Jewish emigration. He previously served as executive director and rabbi at the Hillel Jewish Student Center at the University of Cincinnati.
Formerly the vice president of the Interreligious Information Center in New York City and a founding board member of the Brueggerman Center for Dialogue at Xavier University, Rabbi Ingber also is the co-creator of an award-winning exhibit on Pope John Paul II and the Jewish People that has toured 18 cities and been seen by more than a million people.
A co-convener of the first Catholic-Jewish Lay Conference at the Vatican in 2007 and the recipient of numerous awards, Rabbi Ingber has a passion for Tikkun Olam, which is a Hebrew phrase that means “healing the world.”
That passion has most recently taken him to Darfur, Uganda and Kenya with the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, to Cameroon to talk with Muslim students and to the Museum of Dialogue of Cultures in Poland.