J. Robert Oppenheimer Memorial Committee
PO Box 220, Los Alamos, NM 87544

JROMC is pleased to announce our next free lecture on Monday, July 10th, 2023 beginning at 7:30 pm at the SALA Event Center, 2551 Central Ave, Los Alamos, NM. This lecture will be part of Los Alamos ScienceFest and is co-sponsored by the Los Alamos Jewish Center.


Fifty (Well, Maybe Two) Shades of Grey: Nuance in the Relationship Between Lewis Strauss and J. Robert Oppenheimer


In June 1954 the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) revoked the security clearance of Dr. J. Robert Oppenheimer, the scientific leader of the Manhattan Project to develop the first atomic bombs. Particularly in Los Alamos, the canonical view today of the clearance clash between Oppenheimer and 1954 AEC Chairman Lewis Strauss paints Oppenheimer as the victim and Strauss as the villain. This presentation will focus on the Jewish dimension of these two individuals and reflect on how their opposing approaches to their respective Jewish heritage may have contributed to the revocation. We’ll begin by exploring the history of the Jewish presence in the United States and the mechanisms used by Jews to integrate into American society. A little-known connection between Strauss and the Los Alamos Jewish Center, co-host of this presentation, will be described. Through the efforts in part of the Los Alamos-based J. Robert Oppenheimer Memorial Committee, in December 2022 the Secretary of Energy apologized for the clearance revocation and vacated the June 1954 decision In The Matter of J. Robert Oppenheimer.

Speaker Biography:

Jack Shlachter is a physicist who worked at Los Alamos National Laboratory for over thirty years with briefer stints at Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York, the International Atomic Energy Agency, and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization, the latter two based in Vienna, Austria; he led both the Physics Division and Theoretical Division during his LANL career. In parallel, Jack is an ordained rabbi who led the Jewish congregation in Los Alamos for many years, was the rabbi in Center Moriches, NY, during his years at Brookhaven, and now serves as rabbi of HaMakom, a congregation in Santa Fe, NM as well as the Los Alamos Jewish Center. He has also provided itinerant rabbinic support to far-flung Jewish communities including those in Vienna, Austria, and Beijing, China.