Alice L. Eckardt became involved profession upon learning the many horrors associated with the reign of Hitler and the Holocaust. As a college student witnessing those atrocities, she was immediately inspired to pursue providing education in Jewish studies. At the start of her career, Ms. Eckardt began her teaching career as a lecturer in the religious studies department of Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, in 1972, as an assistant professor from 1976 to 1985, as a full professor from 1985 to 1987 and as professor emerita upon retirement. She served additionally as the co-founder and co-director of the university’s Jewish studies program from 1976 to 1985.
In preparation for her career, Ms. Eckardt pursued a formal education at Oberlin College, earning a Bachelor of Arts in 1944. Subsequently, she graduated with a Master of Arts in 1966 and was further awarded an honorary doctorate in 1992 from Lehigh University. During this time, Ms. Eckardt was a founding member of the citizens’ advisory committee for Southern Lehigh Schools from 1958 to 1960 and later served on the national advisory board of the Foundation to Sustain Righteous Gentiles from 1987 to 1989. Likewise, she was a member of the board of directors for the Anne Frank Institute in Philadelphia.
Between 1971 and 2015, Ms. Eckardt served on the academic advisory board of the Lehigh Valley Center for Jewish Studies from 1971 to 2015, and contributed as a member of both the national Christian Scholars on Judaism and the Jewish People, as well as the Christian Study Group on Judaism and the Jewish People, from 1973 to 2015. As a respected voice in her field, Ms. Eckardt was appointed as a special consultant and advisor to the President’s Commission on the Holocaust by its chair Elie Wiesel in 1979, and a special advisor to the U. S. Holocaust Memorial Council in Washington from 1981 to 1986. The highlight of her career was meeting Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel and having the opportunity to work alongside him.
In the past, Ms. Eckardt taught as an adjunct professor at Cedar Crest College from 1982 to 1983 and an exchange professor at Muhlenberg College in 1984. From 1985 to 2015, she served on the national advisory council of the Scholars Conference on the Holocaust and the German Church Struggle.
A published writer, Ms. Eckardt co-authored three books, “Encounter with Israel” in 1970, “Long Night’s Journey into Day: Life and Faith After the Holocaust” in 1982 and, in 1988, an enlarged edition of that volume with the subtitle, “A Revised Retrospective on the Holocaust.” In 1987, she edited and contributed to “Jerusalem: City of the Ages.” Additionally, from 1963 to 2019, she produced some 214 published articles and public lectures, along with the introductory essay to “More Stepping Stones to Christian-Jewish Relations” in 1985.
Outside of her professional endeavors, Ms. Eckardt was president of the Lehigh University Women’s Club from 1960 to 1961. She also maintained involvement with the American Academy of Religion and the American Professors for Peace in the Middle East. In light of her accomplishments, she received the Human Relations Award from the American Jewish Committee and the Myrtle Wreath Achievement Award from Hadassah in Allentown, Pennsylvania, in 1971, later being honored by Hadassah’s Eastern Pennsylvania region in 1975 and South New Jersey region in 1979. Ms. Eckardt was presented with the Eternal Flame Award by the Anne Frank Institute in 1987, the Righteous Person Award by Temple Beth EI in Bethlehem in 1997 and the Humanitarian Award by B’nai B’rith in 1989. Moreover, she was selected for inclusion in the fourth edition of Who’s Who in Religion.
The advice that Ms. Eckardt can offer the next generation or others aspiring to work in her profession is to very seldom accept what a person says or publishes because the information may be untruthful. She also promotes kindness and fairness to all. Most importantly, Ms. Eckardt would like to be remembered as someone who tried to do the right thing for people in society, to teach others to care about issues and tried to fight against hatred.