As we honor the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and commemorate his birthday, we are reminded of the strong bonds that exist between the African-American and Jewish-American communities. Dr. King led the non-violent resistance movement against racism, hatred and bigotry grounded in principles that he modeled after Mahatma Gandhi’s work. His efforts eventually ended legal discrimination in the United States and earned him the Nobel Peace Prize, a distinction that Elie Wiesel, Yitzhak Rabin and others would one day share.
Dr. King worked closely with many Jewish spiritual leaders throughout his life. We remember Rabbi Joachim Prinz, who fled Nazi Germany and spoke at the 1963 March on Washington, reminding his audience that “the most urgent, the most disgraceful, the most shameful and the most tragic problem is silence.” Later, Dr. King marched arm in arm in Selma with Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, who recalled that his “feet were praying” as he crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge.
At the Jewish Democratic Council of America, we are inspired by the many examples of Dr. King and the civil rights movement to make our voices heard in the name of social justice and repairing the world (tikkun olam). In the wake of the profanity, bigotry and hatefulness that has emerged in the current political climate, we uphold Dr. King’s injunction not to be an accomplice to evil, working with our partners to combat all forms of racism, anti-Semitism and intolerance on any scale. JDCA will fight for the rights of all Americans, using as a guide the values that we as a Jewish community share with Dr. King’s legacy.