Rabbi Abie Ingber, founding director of Xavier’s Office of Interfaith Community Engagement, is being honored as a Champion for Connecting Cultures and Communities at the Cincinnati Human Relations Commission’s annual awards dinner on Thursday, May 10, at the Hilton Netherland Plaza Hotel Pavilion Caprice in downtown Cincinnati.
In addition to his work in the Office of Interfaith Community Engagement, Ingber is an adjunct professor of theology at Xavier. Prior to coming Xavier, Ingber was executive director and Senior Rabbi at the Hillel Jewish Student Center in Cincinnati for more than 30 years.
The son of Holocaust immigrants, Ingber has advocated all his life on behalf of immigrants. An early notable achievement occurred when, at age 19, he talked his way into former Beatle John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s Montreal hotel room during their famous 1969 “Bed In” to convince them to sign his petition for Russian Jewish emigration. Lennon gave him a flowering tuberous begonia on his way out and told him to “love it.”
Ingber traveled with the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society to Darfur to experience firsthand the situation of the refugees and to bring them the message of hope with which his parents raised him. In January, Ingber traveled to Israel and Ethiopia to accompany a group of Falash Mura Jews to Israel. These people of Ethiopia have resumed practicing Judaism after their Jewish ancestors converted to Christianity under social pressure, and now they are immigrating to their homeland in Israel.
Ingber has been vice president of the Interreligious Information Center in New York City and is a founding board member of Xavier’s Brueggeman Center for Dialogue. He co-created Xavier’s award-winning exhibit “A Blessing to One Another: Pope John Paul II and the Jewish People,” which has toured in more than a dozen cities since its opening at Xavier in 2005. In 2009, Ingber and his co-directors delivered to Jerusalem’s Western Wall 31,009 prayers written by visitors to the Blessing exhibit.
Ingber is known across the country and around the world for his unifying efforts and strong speeches. His work at Xavier gathers students from all faiths and ethnic backgrounds to encounter each other and serve together for the betterment of all. In 2007, he co-convened the first Catholic-Jewish Lay Conference at the Vatican. In 2008, he received the Eternal Light Award from the Center for Jewish-Catholic Studies in Tampa, Fla. The University of Cincinnati has bestowed on him the Dr. Martin Luther King Award and the Just Community Award. Ingber has been an ordained rabbi for 35 years.
The dinner on May 10 begins at 6:00 p.m. The program and recognition are at 7:15 p.m. The cost is $75 per person or $125 per patron, which includes a 5:15 p.m. VIP reception. Reservations are due by May 5. Make checks payable to CHRC and mail to CHR Dinner Committee, 2412 Ingleside Unit 2B, Cincinnati, Ohio 45206. Tickets will be held at the door.