The Young Marshall Meyer

Marshall’s quiet childhood in Connecticut gave little indication he would become an outspoken human rights activist and rabbi. Marshall was born on March 25, 1930, in Brooklyn, NY, and raised in Norwich, CT, the youngest of three children. Although his family was not religious, he began his religious training at the age of seven and decided to become a rabbi while studying at Dartmouth College, where he graduated in 1952.

After Dartmouth, Marshall attended the Jewish Theological Seminary of America rabbinical school in New York City. At the theological seminary, Marshall first encountered the teachings of Abraham Joshua Heschel, a Jewish philosopher who was the single most important intellectual influence in Marshall’s life. Heschel believed the Hebrew faith demanded social action on the part of its followers, and Heschel himself worked in the civil rights movement and protested against the Vietnam War.

At the age of 21, Marshall met Naomi Friedman, then 14, on a bus ride to Camp Ramah in the Poconos. Marshall fell in love with Naomi then and there. They were married four years later on June 19, 1955.

It wasn’t long after the wedding before Marshall’s restless energy and desire to make a difference became evident. Marshall was bored with his dissertation, and the couple decided to look for temporary rabbi positions abroad. One fateful night, Marshall and Naomi placed a call to the Rabbinical Assembly. After calling multiple international congregations, the Meyers settled on the Congregación Israelita in Buenos Aires, simply because they were the only ones who answered the telephone! Without speaking any Spanish and knowing little about the largest Jewish population in Latin America, the Meyers arrived in Buenos Aires by steamship on August 10, 1959. They only intended to stay for two years.