Rabbi Abie Ingber is a true character whose impact on thousands of all ages influences their feelings toward the other in their midst.
Rabbi Abie Ingber is a pioneering advocate of immigrant and refugee rights and interfaith collaboration. For over 30 years, he served as the executive director of the Hillel Jewish Student Center at the University of Cincinnati. In 2008, he founded the Center for Interfaith Community Engagement at Xavier University and still serves as its executive director. He is also an adjunct professor in the University’s Department of Theology, and Special Assistant to Fr. Michael Graham, S.J., President of Xavier. Rabbi Abie works with people of all faiths and ages toward the goals of mutual understanding and social justice. He celebrates life's differences and teaches that joy is present in all religions and cultures.
"We tolerate an itch, not another human. We should aspire to reach celebration of another's experience."
His mother escaped from Nazi-occupied Poland on Christmas Eve in 1942. Rabbi Abie and John Feister wrote an article about her escape entitled ,A Christmas Miracle for a Jewish Woman, which appeared in the December 2014 edition of the St. Anthony Messenger. Rabbi Abie grew up in Canada and received his undergraduate degree in microbiology and immunology from McGill University. He went on to earn a master’s degree and rabbinic ordination from Hebrew Union College.
As a teenager, he talked his way into John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s hotel room during their 1969 Bed-In in Montreal, a non-violent protest in support of peace, when they recorded “Give Peace a Chance.”
More recently, his work on behalf of refugees and interfaith understanding has taken him around the world to Darfur, Uganda, and Kenya with the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS), a nonpartisan organization that works around the world to protect those who have been forced to flee their homelands. His work has also taken him to Cameroon to talk with Muslim students; to Ethiopia; to the Museum of Dialogue of Cultures in Poland; and to Korea to lecture at two universities.
Rabbi Abie has served as vice president of the Interreligious Information Center in New York City, and as a founding board member of the Brueggeman Center for Dialogue at Xavier University. With the Brueggeman Center, Rabbi Abie co-created an award-winning exhibit, “A Blessing to One Another: Pope John Paul II and the Jewish People,” which toured 18 cities and the Vatican, and was seen by over a million people. In 2007, he co-convened the first Catholic-Jewish Lay Conference at the Vatican.
Rabbi Abie Ingber’s work has been recognized with many awards, including the 2008 Eternal Light Award from the Center for Jewish Catholic Studies in Tampa, Florida and the Dr. Martin Luther King Award from the University of Cincinnati. In 2012, President Barack Obama invited him to the White House. His passion for Tikkun Olam, or “healing the world,” has led him to meet not only with refugees around the world, but also with three popes, the Reverend Jesse Jackson, human rights activist Elie Weisel, and Miep Gies, the woman who tried to save the life of Anne Frank during the Holocaust. In 2016, Rabbi Ingber received Roosevelt University’s highest honorary degree, the Doctor of Social Justice, honaris causa.
In his tenth year as Executive Director of the Center for Interfaith Community Engagement at Xavier University, he continues to provide unique cultural learning opportunities on campus and beyond. Annually, he leads a trip of nursing and pre-med students to Guatemala where they provide medical care to underserved populations. When a pastor in Florida threatened to burn the Koran, he encouraged students of all faiths to read the Koran aloud in the center of campus, showing how similar Islam is to its Abrahamic brethren.
Rabbi Abie hosts a “Touching History” program on campus, in which he invites speakers to give first-hand accounts of historic events. It is often standing-room-only and attracts audiences of all ages. For students, it brings the textbook to life.
"I come to work each day knowing that I am looking into the future with each student whom we encounter."
In congratulating the accomplishments of the Graduate Class of 2009, Rabbi Abie Ingber offered these words of purpose:
The world is at your doorstep,
the concerns of humanity are in your sight vision,
and the opportunity for meaningfulness in life is right in front of you.
It is because of this that the world needs not only your scholarship, but your life, your passion, your love.
Your wisdom will triumph over ignorance,
Your love will triumph over hatred,
Your dreams will overcome nightmares.
Commencement Address 2009