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From Marching with MLK to Marching with Women

01/18/2017 12:42:34 PM


One of my favorite “memories” is the picture of Martin Luther King Junior marching in Selma with several Rabbis at his side. At the time, I was too young to understand the significance. It was not until my confirmation class when my Rabbi was telling us about this historic event that I felt its true impact. I remember sitting up in class and feeling enormously proud to be Jewish. This was probably the first time that I considered being a Rabbi. This was a moment of change in history. It took courage, empathy and a clear sense of justice for these Rabbis to travel to hostile territory and stand for Civil Rights for all. Suddenly, Judaism made sense for me. I saw in that moment that Judaism was a way of life that stretched well beyond holiday celebrations, lifecycle events and prayer.

Every MLK Jr. Day I think about the significance of Jewish leaders marching with Dr. King. King’s message of peaceful determination in the face of overwhelming prejudice and hatred is as pertinent today as it was fifty years ago. Things have changed but have they changed enough? Certainly the Black community still has to battle against racism and baseless hatred. So many other minority communities face the same challenge.

This Shabbat I will deviate from my normal Shabbat practice and join the Women’s March on Washington. Misogyny, bigotry, racism, and political bullying must be responded to with a peaceful presence and a strong resolve. This is not about partisan politics; this is about human community. As Jews, it should not matter whether we are the target or whether it is the physically or mentally handicapped, Mexicans, Muslims, women, or any other group. Just as our leaders joined the cause of Civil Rights in the 60s, our tradition dictates that we be on the side of the downtrodden and repressed.

Martin Luther King Jr. had a dream and this dream enabled him to see a world free of prejudice. He took his message to the people and the streets intrinsically knowing that apathy was wrong. He lost his life fpor that dream but in doing so he enabled so many others to dream and create a better future. Our time has come to stand on the Jewish side of history. It requires that we stand up for the rights of all; that we write letters to our Representatives, that we join hands with those who are being targeted, that we engage in Tikkun Olam.

From the march originating in Selma to the Women’s March on Washington – we will overcome!

Fri, September 18 2020 29 Elul 5780