Something Will Shine

At the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial on the Mall, 54 years to the day after the great man gave his greatest speech, clergy of all varieties, but mostly rabbis and black ministers, came together in common cause,

The Rev. Al Sharpton, joined by Martin Luther King III, stopped in at a pre-march prayer session held by the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, and addressed the assembly of 300 rabbis, cantors and lay leaders.

Sharpton told the Jews that “we could not commemorate 636395306990478867-XXX-20170828-MinistersMarch-03this day and face the challenges today without standing together as Dr. King stood 54 years ago.” Invoking those murdered in the Freedom Summer of 1964, he went on: “We should never forget that it was Goodman, Chaney and Schwerner that died together—two Jews and a black—to give us the right to vote.”

Sharpton spoke of Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, who marched with King at Selma, and he addressed the more recent ill feelings. “We have had days good and bad, but from this day forward, we’re going to make sure we do our part to keep this family together,” he said. “When we can see people in 2017 with torches in their hands, talking about ‘Jews will not replace us,’ it’s time for us to stop praying to the cheap seats and come together.”

Some of the rabbis shouted “amen.”

Sharpton asked for 1,000 ministers, and got somewhat more than that among the 3,000 assembled for Monday’s march. Rabbis swayed and clapped to hip-hop and gospel music. There were skullcaps of every color and size, mainline Protestant ministers in white collars and colorful shawls, black evangelicals in bright choir robes, black-robed monks, Buddhists in saffron, a Sikh in a yellow turban. There were Black Lives Matter signs and posters with verses of scripture.

A cantor led the crowd in the Hebrew song “Hine Ma Tov”—how good it is for brothers to live as one. A black Jewish woman in a tallit—a Jewish prayer shawl—spoke, and a rabbi blew a shofar. A black Catholic nun spoke.

“God’s majestic creation,” observed Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner, head of the Religious Action Center. From the Nazis in Charlottesville, Pesner said, “we learned that anti-Semitism and white supremacism are intertwined. They are dual threats that call us to act and confront them together and directly.”

African Americans responded with cries of “Yes!” and “All right!” to the rabbi’s preaching.

Sharpton picked up the theme. “You’re going to see the victims of Nazism, the victims of white supremacy, march to the Justice Department and say we don’t care what party is in, we are not going to be out,” he told the crowd. “We are coming together like Dr. King and Abraham Heschel did, like Goodman, Chaney and Schwerner did.”

“We don’t have a person to lose,” King told the Jews at their prayer meeting Monday morning. “We are brothers and sisters.”


2 Responses to “Something Will Shine”

  1. 1 janis August 29, 2017 at 6:16 pm

    I appreciate your 3 “S” essays – Shanda, Silence and Shine. Since I am just hours from being en route, and won’t be settled for another week and a half, I can’t yet comment as I would like to, but just wanted to say thank you for now.

    • 2 bluenred August 29, 2017 at 6:22 pm

      You’re welcome. It was nice to have the third “s,” to light some the darkness of the first two. Travel well.

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