Biography

Rabbi Israel Si Dresner

Rabbi Israel "Si" Dresner

Freedom Rider Springfield, NJ

Later dubbed "the most arrested rabbi in America," the outspoken Rabbi Israel "Si" Dresner participated in the June 13-16 Interfaith Freedom Ride from Washington, DC to Tallahassee, FL. The son of a Brooklyn delicatessen owner, he graduated from the University of Chicago (1950) and Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Theology.

After successfully completing the Freedom Ride to Tallahassee, the Interfaith Riders had planned to fly home. First, however, they decided to test whether or not the group would be served in the segregated airport restaurant. As a result 10 Freedom Riders, later known as the Tallahassee Ten, were arrested for unlawful assembly and taken to the city jail. They were convicted and sentenced later that same month; legal appeal of the airport arrests continued for years. Dresner returned along with 9 of the original riders to serve brief jail terms in August 1964 - and ate triumphantly in the same airport restaurant that had earlier refused them service.

Dresner continued his civil rights activism and advocacy throughout his career as a reform Jewish rabbi in northern New Jersey, participating in the 1962 Albany campaign to desegregate municipal facilities and in the 1965 Selma-to-Montgomery march. He retired in 1996.

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