(JTA) — Maynard Wishner, a past national president of the American Jewish Committee who also headed other Jewish groups, has died.
Wishner, a Chicago attorney and activist who served as the AJC’s national president from 1980 to 1983, died Monday at 88. He had been serving as honorary president and a member of its Board of Governors until his passing.
He also was chair of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs when it was called the National Jewish Community Relations Advisory Council, and served as president of the Council of Jewish Federations, the precursor to the Jewish Federations of North America.
Wishner traveled throughout the world as an advocate for the Jewish people and Israel. Throughout his legal career and Jewish communal volunteer involvement, Wishner was a vocal proponent of advancing cooperative intergroup relations to strengthen American society and build enduring friendships for the Jewish community, according to an AJC statement. He also was an outspoken advocate for securing the freedom of Jews in the Soviet Union,
In Chicago, Wishner led the Chicago Jewish United Fund/Jewish Federation, the Jewish Community Relations Council, Jewish Family and Community Service. He also served as executive director of the Mayor’s Commission on Human Relations and assistant corporation counsel for the City of Chicago before entering private practice.
He guided many other organizations and commissions at the local, state and national level.
His awards and accolades include the Chicago Jewish federation’s Julius Rosenwald Memorial Award and the American Jewish Committee’s Mensch Award. He was honored by the countries of Greece and Poland for his work to further Jewish relations with both of those communities and nations, and led Jewish outreach to the Latino and African-American communities.
“Maynard Wishner’s passionate, lifelong activism should always serve as a model of leadership for the American Jewish community,” said AJC Executive Director David Harris. “We will forever miss Maynard’s love of Jewish life, and, yes, incredible sense of humor, derived from an early career in the Yiddish Theater in Chicago. If ever there was a true mensch, it was he!”