The November 4th CALS Rabbi Ira Sanders Distinguished Lecture pays tribute this year to the man who inspired it

The 2018 Rabbi Ira Sanders Distinguished Lecture of the Central Arkansas Library System will honor Rabbi Ira Sanders himself, as two expert scholars engage in a lively dialogue on his inspirational work and legacy.

The lecture will take place at Temple B’nai Israel, 3700 North Rodney Parham Road, at 4:00 p.m. on Sunday, November 4. A reception and book signing will follow the program, and copies of the book will be available for purchase. The event is free and open to the public.

Rabbi Sanders was a member of the library Board of Trustees for over 40 years, but his contribution to social justice, to the Little Rock community, and to the whole region stretched far beyond his library service.

James L. Moses, author of Just and Righteous Causes: Rabbi Ira Sanders and the Fight for Racial and Social Justice in Arkansas, 1926-1963, will join Mark K. Bauman, editor of the journal Southern Jewish History, for a dialogue focusing on the life and work of Rabbi Sanders.

Their dialogue coincides with the launch of the new book by James Moses, just released from the University of Arkansas Press. Moses and Bauman will discuss Sanders’s lifelong work for social and racial justice in Arkansas and its relation to the efforts of other southern rabbis during the civil rights movement.

Rabbi Ira Sanders built an unforgettable legacy through his passionate advocacy for social justice and the many initiatives he founded to better the lives of others. He was a founder of the Little Rock School of Social Work, the Arkansas Lighthouse for the Blind and the Urban League of Greater Little Rock, where he served as an executive and advisory board member for more than 30 years. Dr. Sanders also served as rabbi at Congregation B’nai Israel for 38 years, which makes the congregation’s building a natural setting for this unique lecture. Sanders, who lived in Little Rock from 1926 until his death in 1985, was an outspoken supporter of racial integration, equal opportunity, and women’s rights.

James Moses states: “Rabbi Ira Sanders was a warrior for social and racial justice throughout his life. He took these words from Isaiah strongly to heart: Learn to do well: seek Justice – relieve the oppressed.

Through a lifetime devoted to this moral imperative, Moses says, “Sanders made a real difference in the lives of many thousands over an influential career that spanned the eras of the Depression, World War II, the Civil Rights Movement, and beyond. Sanders’s inimitable career gives us a window through which we can understand the history of Arkansas and the South through the tumultuous 20th Century. I look forward to sharing his singular story – and hearing more stories about him – in Little Rock on November 4.”

Mark K. Bauman praises the new book by Moses: “James Moses has written a trailblazing book on a true Jewish American hero. Ira Sanders was involved in the civil rights movement long before other people were. He was devoted to a variety of causes to help people in need. Sanders is well-deserving of the marvelous tribute that Moses has given him through this biography.”

Bauman is also enthusiastic about the upcoming dialogue. “I very much look forward to relating the work of Sanders to the work of other Reform Rabbis in the South and to sharing these remarkable experiences with an energetic and informed audience.”

Rabbi Barry Block, current leader of Congregation B’nai Israel, sees continuing value in the legacy of Rabbi Sanders. “In collaboration with interfaith clergy partners, members of Congregation B’nai Israel, and diverse leaders throughout the community, Rabbi Sanders transformed Arkansas for the better,” he says. Rabbi Block believes that people of all belief systems can be inspired to bold action against today’s injustice by the example of Rabbi Sanders.

The 2018 Rabbi Ira Sanders Distinguished Lecture is sponsored by the Central Arkansas Library System and Congregation B’nai Israel and co-sponsored by the Jewish Federation of Arkansas and the CALS Butler Center for Arkansas Studies.

For more information about the Rabbi Ira Sanders Distinguished Lecture, contact Madelyn Ganos at or (501) 918-3030.

Middle East is the topic of the 2014 Rabbi Ira Sanders Distinguished Lecture Tonight

DrKimballphotocalsDr. Charles Kimball, author of When Religion Becomes Lethal: The Explosive Mix of Politics and Religion in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, will present the Central Arkansas Library System’s (CALS) Rabbi Ira Sanders Distinguished Lecture on Thursday, September 4, at 6:30 p.m. in the CALS Ron Robinson Theater, 100 River Market Avenue. The lecture is free and open to the public, and will be followed by a reception and book signing.

Kimball is a graduate of Oklahoma State University and holds the M.Div. degree from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. An ordained Baptist minister, he received his Th.D. from Harvard University. Kimball is an expert analyst on Islam, Jewish-Christian-Muslim relations, the Middle East, and the intersection of religion and politics in the U.S.

Dr. Charles Kimball is Presidential Professor and Director of Religious Studies at the University of Oklahoma in Norman, OK. Between 1996 and 2008, he served as Chair of the Department of Religion and the Divinity School at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, NC. During the 2006 fall term, Dr. Kimball was the Rita and William Bell Visiting Professor at the University of Tulsa. He is a graduate of Oklahoma State University and holds the M.Div. degree from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Reservations are requested, but not required. RSVP to or 918-3009. For more information contact 918-3086 or


Lilly Ledbetter is 2013 Ira Sanders Distinguished Lecturer tonight

calsledbetterThe Central Arkansas Library System’s (CALS) 2013 Ira Sanders Distinguished Lecture will feature Lilly Ledbetter, an advocate for fair pay. The free lecture will be held Thursday, August 22, at 6:30 p.m. in the Main Library’s Darragh Center, 100 Rock Street. Ledbetter’s book, Grace and Grit: My Fight for Equal Pay and Fairness at Goodyear and Beyond, will be available for purchase at the event. A reception and book signing will follow the lecture.

In 1998, Ledbetter filed a gender pay discrimination suit against Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company in federal court and won a jury verdict of more than $3 million. After a series of appeals, the U.S. Supreme Court later overturned the lower court’s ruling. Despite her defeat, Ledbetter continued her fight until the Supreme Court decision was nullified when President Obama, on January 29, 2009, signed into law the first new law of his administration: the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. While she will never receive restitution from Goodyear, Ledbetter said, “I’ll be happy if the last thing they say about me after I die is that I made a difference.”

CALS established the Rabbi Ira E. Sanders Distinguished Lectureship to commemorate the memory of Dr. Sanders’ 40 years of service on the library’s Board of Trustees. Dr. Ira E. Sanders served as rabbi at Temple B’nai Israel for 38 years. He was a founder of Arkansas Lighthouse for the Blind, the Arkansas Eugenics Association (later Planned Parenthood Association), and the Urban League of Greater Little Rock, where he served as an executive and advisory board member for more than 30 years. Lectures honor Dr. Sanders’ commitment to intellectual freedom.

This event is free and open to the public. Reservations are appreciated, but not required. RSVP to or 918-3009.