Skip To Content
Breaking News

Maynard Wishner, Former AJC President, Dies at 88

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!”

I hope you appreciated this article. Before you go, I’d like to ask you to please support the Forward’s award-winning journalism this Passover.

In this age of misinformation, our work is needed like never before. We report on the news that matters most to American Jews, driven by truth, not ideology.

At a time when newsrooms are closing or cutting back, the Forward has removed its paywall. That means for the first time in our 126-year history, Forward journalism is free to everyone, everywhere. With an ongoing war, rising antisemitism, and a flood of disinformation that may affect the upcoming election, we believe that free and open access to Jewish journalism is imperative.

Readers like you make it all possible. Right now, we’re in the middle of our Passover Pledge Drive and we still need 300 people to step up and make a gift to sustain our trustworthy, independent journalism.

Make a gift of any size and become a Forward member today. You’ll support our mission to tell the American Jewish story fully and fairly. 

— Rachel Fishman Feddersen, Publisher and CEO

Join our mission to tell the Jewish story fully and fairly.

Only 300 more gifts needed by April 30

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.