Skip to main content

Arthur Waskow papers

Identifier: COU:1809

Scope and Contents

The Arthur Waskow Papers include correspondence, documents, and manuscripts related to Waskow's published and unpublished writings, in addition to materials related to his coursework, rabbinical career, publicity, and his work in various organizations such as The Shalom Center and the Shefa Fund.


  • Creation: 1969 - 2000

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for access.

Conditions Governing Use

The University Libraries may not own the copyright to all materials in this collection. Researchers are responsible for contacting the copyright holder(s) for this material and obtaining permission to publish or broadcast. The University Libraries will not grant permission to publish or broadcast this material and are not responsible for copyright violations resulting from such use.

Biographical Note

Arthur Waskow was born in 1933 and grew up in Baltimore. Waskow earned a BA from Johns Hopkins University in 1954 and a doctorate in United States History from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1963. From 1959 to 1961, Waskow worked on disarmament and civil-rights issues as a legislative assistant for Congressman Robert Kastenmeier of Wisconsin. From 1961 to 1963, he was a Senior Fellow of the Peace Research Institute, working on issues of world disarmament and critically analyzing official approaches to nuclear deterrence and civil defense. In 1963 Waskow joined in founding the Institute for Policy Studies and was a Fellow there until 1977. From 1977 to 1982, he served as a Fellow of the Public Resource Center in Washington, D.C., where he led a long-term research project, funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, on economic, environmental, technological, and public-policy aspects of community-based generation and use of renewable energy and energy conservation.

Waskow's participation in the Jewish Renewal movement began in 1969 with his writing of The Freedom Seder, a Passover haggadah that wove together the traditional Passover text with passages from Martin Luther King, Mahatma Gandhi, Allen Ginsberg, Nat Turner, Henry David Thoreau, Emanuel Ringelblum of the Warsaw Ghetto Revolt, and other exemplars of liberation in several cultures and societies. It was the first Passover Haggadah to address contemporary issues and reach out beyond the Jewish community in this way.

Waskow continued as a writer, teacher, and organizer in the movement to renew Judaism. Among other books and hundreds of articles, he wrote Godwrestling (1978); Seasons of Our Joy (1982); and These Holy Sparks: The Rebirth of the Jewish People (1983). In 1978 he joined in founding and became a member of the Board of the National Havurah Committee. He founded the journal Menorah: Sparks of Jewish Renewal in 1981 which was renamed New Menorah in 1985 and became the quarterly journal of P'nai Or Religious Fellowship and later of ALEPH: Alliance for Jewish Renewal, with Waskow continuing as editor.

In 1982, Waskow moved to Philadelphia, to become a member of the faculty of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College (RRC). From 1985 to 1987, he was a member of the liturgical committee of the P'nai Or Religious Fellowship that created Or Chadash /New Light: A New Resource for Sabbath Prayer and Celebration, and has continued to write a number of prayers and celebratory practices for Sabbath and festival use. In 1983, working closely with President Ira Silverman of RRC, Waskow founded The Shalom Center to inspire and consolidate Jewish thought and action in response to the dangers of the nuclear arms race and later of other global environmental threats. In 1993, he and Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi merged the Shalom Center with the P’nai Or organization to create ALEPH: Alliance for Jewish Renewal and in 1995, after five years of study, he was ordained as a rabbi through ALEPH.

In 2005, the Shalom Center became once more an independent body with its own transdenominational board.

Waskow continues to teach theology and rabbinics at numerous colleges and institutes, spreading his visions of eco-Judaism and of peace between Israel and Palestine.


22.5 linear feet (17 total boxes 14 Record Boxes, 3 boxes of other types)

Language of Materials



The Arthur Waskow papers contains material related to Waskow's writings and rabbinical career, including his collaboration with the Shalom Center and the Shefa Fund.


The Arthur Waskow papers have been arranged into 5 series based on media format and content type

Series 1. Organizations, Events, and Campaigns

Series 2. Writings and Publishing Efforts

Series 3. Correspondence and Clippings

Series 4. Personal

The Arthur Ocean Waskow Papers
Processed by Jane Thaler with assistance by Jacob Flaws, 2017; ArchivesSpace entry by Samantha Mat, 2017.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the University of Colorado Boulder Libraries, Rare and Distinctive Collections Repository

1720 Pleasant Street
184 UCB
Boulder Colorado 80503 United States