CRANFORD, NJ - It’s one thing to read history in a book. It’s a whole other thing to have lived it. Rabbi Sidney Shanken served as the rabbi of Temple Beth-El in Cranford from 1957 until 1980 and he took part in two of the biggest historic events of the 20th century; World War II and the civil rights movement. Shanken flew 54 combat missions over Europe as part of the US Army Air Corps. After being wounded he returned to the States.

This was not the only time, though, he served his country. In the early 1960s, as legal segregation and discrimination were being fought, he again felt called. He traveled to the South and became a Freedom Rider and marched with Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in Alabama.

Cranford Radio had the honor of speaking with Rabbi Shanken as he recounted some of his experiences.