A TRIBUTE TO THE REV. JOSEPH BEN-DAVID
THE UNITARIAN UNIVERSALIST DISTRICT OF METROPOLITAN NEW YORK
presents JOSEPH BEN-DAVID
member of The Fourth Universalist Society of New York City
THE WINIFRED LATIMER NORMAN AWARD IN THE AREA OF SOCIAL JUSTICE 1997
We, the Fourth Universalist Society in the City of New York, nominate Joseph Ben-David for his over sixty years of tireless commitment and witness to human rights. His work against oppression wherever it may be found has encouraged countless others to think and act with greater concern for the worth and dignity of all persons and with greater awareness of the interconnected web of nature.
We also especially cite his lifetime commitment to the Unitarian movement in Czechoslovakia, which gave him his first involvement with liberal religion as a teenager, and for which he continues today as a spokesperson of integrity and passion for its survival and renewal.
PRESENTED THIS THIRD DAY OF MAY, 1997 AT THE ANNUAL MEETING OF THE UNITARIAN UNIVERSALIST DISTRICT OF METROPOLITAN NEW YORK AT MORRISTOWN, NEW JERSEY
Signed: Signed: Douglas Rhodes, President
Signed: Howell K. Lind, District and Congregational Services Consultant
The Reverend Joseph Ben-David (Senior Minister of the Church of Humanism), member of the Fourth Universalist Society, recipient of the Winifred Latimer Norman Social Justice Award.
Introductory remarks by Dr. Douglas Rhodes, President of the Unitarian Universalist District of Metropolitan New York, at its Annual Meeting Morristown, New Jersey, May 3, 1997:
"This award has become an important tradition within our District. The award was established to honor our own Wini Norman whose energy, insight, fervor, and graciousness we continue to enjoy. The award, however, has more than an honorific purpose for Wini Norman. Its purpose is to honor an individual in the District who best represents the ideals and values exemplified by Wini Norman in the areas of social action and racial concerns.
This year, we wish to honor The Reverend Joseph Ben-David of the Fourth Universalist Society in Manhattan.
Joseph is no newcomer to our Social Justice Movement. He has dedicated over sixty years of tireless commitment and witness to human rights. I, frankly, despair at the thought of conveying to you the history Joseph has created, confronted, and contributed.
This award is not easily conveyed in English. It deserves Hebrew, Czech and German.
Just the list of his social action leadership took up three pages of fine print. His mentors were giants: The Rev. Norbert Fabian Capek, who, as you know was martyred by Nazis, Prof. Martin Buber, and Erich Fromm.
He learned from them and has prodded, taught, and challenged others ever since.
His membership in the Prague Unitaria dates back to 1937, and it is this strand of being that he has largely devoted himself to since 1990 of helping Czech Unitarians restore the legacy of Dr. Capek and Dr. Karl Haspl, the devoted minister under the Communists dictatorship. Joseph has made it his business, his priority, to raise up the struggle in Prague to the UUA and to each of us to regain the heritage, the distinguished heritage, from the usurpers of that venerable institution. But the breadth of his social action goes much farther. He has sought a just peace in the Middle East, promoted healthy attitudes toward human sexuality, fought against the tobacco industry and is a member of the Board of Trustees of The Research Action and Information Network for The Bodily Integrity of Women. He also finds time to lead as the founder and senior minister of the Church of Humanism in New York. Joseph's trouble is that it is quite apparent that he does not know where his spirit and commitment end and where the rest of the world begins. For him, the world, his community, and his dedication to Social Justice, AND HE, are one. That's a condition that many of us can only aspire to UNDERSTAND, let alone live. We recognize the Reverend Joseph Ben-David today for a life time of work and commitment to Social Justice. To action as well as words, to caring deeply about people who we may not know... or sometimes prefer to overlook. People of this caliber are in short supply these days. We would do well to appreciate and to celebrate his work and devotion of time and energy to an idea, to a principle, and to a just life of hope and opportunity to literally millions of people."
Copyright © 1997 by Joseph Ben-David. All rights reserved. This publication may not be reproduced in any form without permission.