Abraham Joshua Heschel was descended from preeminent European rabbis on both sides of the family.
In late October 1938, when he was living in a rented room in the home of a Jewish family in Frankfurt, he was arrested by the Gestapo and deported to
Six weeks before the German invasion of Poland, Heschel left Warsaw for London with the help of Julian Morgenstern, president of Hebrew Union College, who had been working to obtain visas for Jewish scholars in Europe.
Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel (with beret) with Martin Luther King
Heschel arrived in
New York City in March 1940. Heschel saw the teachings of the Hebrew prophets as a clarion call for social action in the United States and worked for black civil rights and against the Vietnam War
Heschel served as professor of Jewish ethics and Mysticism until his death in 1972.