“My passions in life are diversity, involvement and inclusion from a Jewish point of view,” said Martin H. Belsky, former dean and Randolph Baxter Professor of Law at the University of Akron. 

With a long history of activism and leadership both in Northeast Ohio and in Tulsa, Okla., Belsky said his Orthodox childhood helped him learn early lessons of tikkun olam. Although he is no longer Orthodox, much of what he calls, “my career outside my job” is committed to engaging the Jewish community with other faith and secular communities. 

As president of Ohio Jewish Communities, Belsky said he is working on legislation for college campuses related to preventing the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement and is engaging interfaith communities to make change. 

“I’m not saying they have to agree with everything Israel does, but they’ve moved from anti-Israel to anti-Semitism,” he said. 

Belsky has lived in Ohio for eight years. He is a graduate of Columbia Law School in New York and served on U.S. House of Representatives judiciary committees for citizenship, immigration and oversight of federal offshore mineral resources, setting up protections for drilling. He also was an assistant administrator for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, issuing early reports on climate change.  

“We started the national climate program and talked in the 1970s about global warming and acid rain,” Belsky said. 

Before moving to Akron, Belsky was a dean and law professor at Albany Law School at the University of Tulsa in Oklahoma. Now, Belsky brings his lifetime commitment to interfaith dialogue, specifically with Muslims and Christians, to Akron. 

“Giving money and time and effort to do the right thing … it’s just what I do,” he said. 

– Amanda Koehn

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