Heschel, Rabbi Abraham Joshua (1907-1972)

edited by
Wendy Hayden

2 October 2006

Voices of Democracy: The U. S. Oratory Project

Department of Communication,
2130 Skinner Building,
University of Maryland,
College Park, MD 21774

Brief notes on the text are included in the editorial
declaration of this header.

The text of this edition has been collated from the text printed in The Insecurity of Freedom (New York: Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, 1966), 85-100, which differs very little from the oral version delivered at the National Conference of Christians and Jews on Religion and Race, 14 January 1963.

As far as we have been able to determine, no recording or written transcription was made of Heschel’s address “Religion and Race” at the time it was delivered on 14 January 1963. The address has subsequently been published in its entirety in three places. It was first published under the title, “The Religious Basis of Equality of Opportunity–The Segregation of God,” in a collection of essays “based on” (as the headnote on the reverse of the title page has it) addresses given at the conference where the address was originally delivered: Mathew Ahmann, editor, Race: Challenge to Religion (Chicago: Henry Regnery Company, 1963), 55-71. A substantial extract was also published in “Centenary of Emancipation Proclamation,” The Proceedings of the Golden Jubilee Convention, the United Synagogue Convention, 17-21 November 1963. Heschel himself published the address under the title “Religion and Race” in a collection of his essays: The Insecurity of Freedom (New York: Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, 1966), 85-100. Under the title “The Religious Basis of Equality of Opportunity–The Segregation of God,” the essay has also been published in To Grow in Wisdom: An Anthology of Abraham Joshua Heschel, Jacob Neusner, editor, with Noam M. M. Neusner (Lanham, Maryland: Madison Books, 1989), 165-177 (this version is reprinted from Ahmann).

Comparing the version Heschel published with the two that appeared under the other title, only very few and minor variations in textual mechanics can be found. For example, in paragraph xx, the word “rabbis” is not capitalized in Heschel’s version but it is capitalized in the other versions. With one exception, none of the differences are substantive.

The one exception occurs at the end of the fourth section of the address. Between the paragraph ending with the words “the King of kings” and the quotation from Proverbs, Heschel has added two paragraphs that do not appear in the other versions. These are the paragraphs beginning with the words “There are many motivations” and “God seeks out him.”

It seems reasonable to assume that the version of this address published by its author represents the most complete and accurate account of his thoughts. While it may contain some material that was not in the address as originally delivered, namely the two paragraphs we have just indicated, we can get no closer to that original text by relying on the Ahmann or Neusner versions as all the texts in the Ahmann book, from which the Neusner version was taken, are only “based on” the addresses as delivered–there is no editorial guarantee of word-for-word transcription. Furthermore, “Religion and Race” is the version referenced by Susannah Heschel in her own scholarship on her father’s work, and she is his literary executor, thus providing further evidence that this version is the authoritative one. This is also the version that has been most readily available to scholars, and is arguably the best known.

Paragraph numbers have been added in square brackets.

The text of this edition has been thoroughly checked and proofread. The text does not depart from the copy-text or general editorial principles.

All double quotation marks are rendered with “, all single quotation marks with

Standard date values are given in ISO form: yyyy-mm-dd.

Characteristics of interpretation of this edition are as follows:

Proper names are not marked.
Dates are not marked.
Emphasis is marked without interpretation.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Library of Congress Classification

National Conference of Christians and Jews, Conference on Religion and Race
Chicago, Illinois





VOD Associate Editor
Gaines, Robert N.

Created TEI header and xml conformant file. Validated on 25 March 2006 in XMetal 3.1.3 against teixlite.dtd (version 2004-07-16)


Hayden, Wendy

compiled electronic text


Hayden, Wendy

proofreading of edited of electronic text


Hayden, Wendy

additional notes


editorial assistant
Stillion Southard, Belinda

proofread textual notes