CHESTER/WESTBROOK — Over many years, Andy Schatz has devoted his professional life as a lawyer to civil liberties and social justice – advocating on behalf of health care for the poor, rights for the disabled, improved educational opportunities for minorities, consumer protection and a host of other public causes.
For all these efforts the Westbrook resident has been selected as the recipient of the 2017 Philip Scheffler Pursuers of Peace and Justice Award, given by Congregation Beth Shalom Rodfe Zedek in Chester.
He will be honored at a Shabbat service on Saturday, April 8, at 10:30 a.m., to which the public is invited, and that is followed by a luncheon, the award presentation and a panel discussion on social justice and the news media.
Susan Peck, chair of the committee that selects awardees each year, said, “The CBSRZ community is proud to honor our congregant. We are keenly aware from recent events that constant vigilance is required to preserve and protect civil rights and civil liberties for all, and to promote social justice for those members of our community who are unable to do so on their own. Through his exemplary work in these areas, Andy Schatz is a hero. There is no more worthy recipient this award.”
Schatz is a graduate of Harvard Law School, where he was editor of the Harvard Civil Rights, Civil Liberties Law Review. He has served over the years in many organizations, including Advocates for the Handicapped, Legal Aid of Chicago, West Hartford Community Television, the Jewish Community Foundation of Greater Hartford, the American Civil Liberties Union, both as a national board and executive committee member, and as president and vice president of the Connecticut chapter.
As a law student and later as a lawyer he pursued successful class action litigation regarding consumer and anti-trust matters, challenges to strip searches of female arrestees, school segregation and government intrusion, and has worked on a wide range of issues involving the rights of prisoners.
He has also been the chair of the CBSRZ Social Action committee over the last five years. With his fellow congregants he has led efforts to alleviate the effects of poverty, including food drives and meal sites for Shoreline Soup Kitchens & Pantries, and furnishing apartments for the homeless, clothing drives for children, and similar projects. In addition, under his leadership, the committee has supported and sometimes led legislative efforts aimed at gun control, children’s rights, and racial justice.
The award is named after Philip Scheffler, a congregant who had a long career at CBS News as a producer and as executive editor of 60 Minutes and who died in April 2016. Andy Schatz is the second recipient of the award. Martha Stone, of Durham, longtime director of the Center for Children’s Advocacy, was the first.
The panel discussion after the Shabbat service will feature Schatz, along with James Jacoby (former colleague of Scheffler at CBS News), Allan Appel (of the New Haven Independent), and Jeff Cohen (WNPR).
In order to be sure to accommodate all who wish to attend, the congregation asks that those interested to RSVP either by calling the CBSRZ office, (860) 526-8920, or by registering online at www.cbsrz.org.