Director of the Institute of Semitic Studies (Princeton, New Jersey) He is a scholar of ancient Semitic Languages & Civilization, and African/Ethiopian Languages and Religion. He is Chair of the Board of the Ethiopian Peace and Development Center. Dr. Isaac holds B Div. (Harvard Divinity School, ’63); a Ph.D. in Near Eastern Languages (Harvard University, ’69); a D.H.L. (Honorary, John Jay/CUNY, ’93); a Litt. D. (Honorary, Addis Ababa University, 2004). He is a founder, and the first Professor of Afro-American Studies at Harvard University. In recognition of his merits, the “Ephraim Isaac Prize for Excellence in African Languages” is given to a Harvard graduate who writes the best essay in African Studies.
He is on editorial boards of two international scholarly journals: Journal of Afroasiatic Languages and Second Temple Jewish Literature. Dr. Isaac is a member of the board or advisory council of several interfaith and intercultural groups and organizations, nationally and internationally. These include the Temple of Understanding, the Institute of Religion and Public Policy, Tanenbaum Center for Inter-religious Understanding, Princeton Fellowship in Prayer, Institute for Jewish Community Research, and Oxford Forum (England). In this capacity, Isaac has contributed to numerous peace and reconciliation dialogues in the Middle East, Africa and Ireland.
In the 80’s he was an active member of the Harvard-Radcliff Alumni Association against Apartheid. He was nominated twice to the Harvard University Board of Overseers on an Anti-apartheid slate along with fifteen other distinguished Harvard alumni, including those who struggled against South African Apartheid and Archbishop Tutu. In 1993 (Chicago, IL) he was a signatory to the groundbreaking Document Toward a Global Ethic along with the Dalai Lama, the late Joseph Cardinal Bernardin of Chicago, and others, as a Jewish delegate to the Parliament of World’s Religions and a member of the about 150 Assembly of Religious and Spiritual Leaders. He was the first to propose in October 1993 to the Parliament the idea of a “united nations” of world religions (UR) to promote world peace and prosperity. Between 1994-2005 (New York, NY), he was an active member of the National Committee on American Foreign Policy at the height of their involvement with the Northern Ireland peace process. In 2004 (Amman, Jordan) he contributed to peace meetings as a member of the peace delegation of Peacemakers in Action of the Tanenbaum Center for Interreligious Understanding, sponsored by Prince Hassan Ibn Talal with the Tanenbaum Center for Interreligious Understanding. In 2005 (Amman, Jordan) Isaac also contributed to other peace-building symposia among the three followers of the Religion of Abraham who have roots in Arabic culture (Arab Jews, Christians, and Muslim) as President of the Yemenite Federation of America, sponsored by the Government of Jordan and the Interfaith Council of Jordan.