For nearly twenty years, until his untimely death in 1999, Lenny Zakim served as Executive Director of the New England Regional Office of the Anti-Defamation League. Personally and professionally, he was an outspoken opponent of anti-Semitism, racism and all forms of bigotry.
Shortly before his death, Zakim participated in an historic pilgrimage to Israel and Rome with a group of Catholics and Jews led by Bernard Cardinal Law and Bishop William F. Murphy. While in Rome, Zakim received the order of Saint Gregory, a knighthood conferred by His Holiness, Pope John Paul II, in recognition of his work in the area of Catholic-Jewish relations.
Zakim was on of the initiators of the anti-bias educational project called A World of Difference. Since its inception in 1985 in Boston, it has been adopted in twenty-nine other cities and eight European countries. Its programs have been conducted in Israel, South Africa, and Japan. Over 35,000 teachers have taken part in training programs and hundreds of thousands of students have been impacted. Together with Jon P. Jennings and the Reggie Lewis, Zakim was founder of Team Harmony, the nation’s largest interracial gathering of youth committed to opposing bigotry and promoting diversity.
Zakim, author of Confronting Anti-Semitism: A Practical, published numerous articles and columns on the Arab/Israeli conflict, Black/Jewish relations, Catholic/Jewish relations, and civil and human rights. He received numerous awards, including the Jewish Community Relations Council’s top Jewish professional award, the National Conference of Christians and Jews Humanitarian Award, and the Catholic Charities Medal. He was awarded honorary degrees from Brandeis University, Northeastern University, and Salem State College.