In 1945, Schulweis graduated Yeshiva University with a degree in philosophy. Later Schulweis enrolled in the Jewish Theological Seminary, where he studied under Mordecai Kaplan and Abraham Joshua Heschel. Schulweis also studied philosophy at New York University, where he met his wife Malkah.
He was the longtime spiritual Leader at Valley Beth Shalom in Encino, California. He received a doctorate in theology from the Pacific School of Religion. Schulweis"s first pulpit was Temple Beth Abraham, a Conservative Jewish congregation in Oakland, California in 1952.
Among the innovations he introduced was the inclusion of women in minyanim and bat mitzvah ceremonies for girls.
Instead of sermons, he used the allotted time for questions and answers. Schulweis has been criticized by the religious right for his interfaith and conversion programs, and open inclusion of homosexuals.
Rabbi Meir Kahane criticized Schulweis for allowing a pro-PLO Arab Knesset member to speak at his synagogue, while refusing to extend the same opportunity to Kahane, who was also a Knesset member at the time. Newsweek magazine called him "the leading Conservative rabbi of his generation" and placed him 13th on their list of the Top 50 Rabbis in America.
Schulweis founded the Jewish World Watch, a human rights watch group.
He was instrumental in the creation of the Chavurah movement in the late 1960s. In 1986, Schulweis established the Jewish Foundation for the Righteous (JFR) (originally called the Institute for Righteous Acts) to fulfill the traditional Jewish commitment to hakarat hatov, the searching out and recognition of goodness, by assisting Righteous Gentiles who are in need. The JFR started out funding eight rescuers, and that number quickly grew, reaching 1,750.
Currently, the JFR supports more than 850 aged and needy rescuers in 23 countries.
The Foundation also pursues a national Holocaust education program The goal of the program is to educate middle and high school teachers about the history of the Holocaust and to provide them with the resources to integrate this knowledge into their classrooms.
Schulweis had heart disease for many years, and died at his home in Encino, California on December 18, 2014. He was 89.
( A Profound and Stirring Call to Action in Our Troubled ...)
(Book by Schulweis, Harold M.)
(Formerly a URJ Press title. Drawing from both traditional...)
Founder Institute for the Righteous Arts, Judah Magnes Museum, Berkeley, California, 1961. Founder, chairman Institute for Righteous Acts—Documentation and Study Center on Rescuers of Jews in the Nazi Era.
Married Malkah Muriel Savod, June 22, 1947. Children: Seth, Ethan, Alissa.