Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, far right, and other leaders, including Martin Luther King Jr., center, during the Selma March in 1965. Photo © James Karales

(RNS) — Abraham Joshua Heschel is arguably the most important American Jewish rabbi of the 20th century. But he is also one of the most complicated.

A Polish-born Jew from a long line of Hasidic rabbis, he immigrated to America in 1940 and quickly rose to become a leading public intellectual — a civil rights crusader, a champion of interfaith dialogue and an opponent of the Vietnam War.

But Heschel (1907-1972) was also hard to place in the religious world: A deeply devout Jew, he was far more radical than most Orthodox Jews and far more pious than many

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