Civil Rights - Thursday, April 20

Thu, 04/20/2017 - 12:06pm -- Rabbi Shalom Lewis
Rabbi Shalom Lewis
Went downtown with Pesach guests to see the Center for Civil and Human Rights here in Atlanta.

Beautifully done but a painful indictment of American bigotry of not so long ago. We have come a great distance, moving beyond the red, white, and blue apartheid that is our shameful legacy, an ugly blemish on this great nation that we still remember with excruciating clarity. Colored water fountains. Prohibited lunch counters. Bull Connor. Freedom Riders. I have a dream. Mississippi burning.

Our protests and indignation were somehow directed at South Africa, ignoring our own festering evil. Fortunately, we emerged from this hideous cauldron of hatred thanks to persistent courage and uncompromising vision, though we still have a ways to go.

When we think of our own tradition, tolerance has been in our DNA from the very beginning. God created Adam and Eve with no description of skin color. When the sister of Moses mocks his wife for being a Cushite, a Black, she is stricken with leprosy. Judaism is open to all who seek conversion, debunking the notion of a racial consanguinity. Rabbis marched for Black equality. Synagogues were bombed preaching Black equality. Jews died promoting Black equality. Israel, airlifted thousands of Blacks from Ethiopia. Trained them. Absorbed them. Resettled them as citizens.

Our promotion of tolerance and human rights is deep, profound and unshakable. We are to be proud as Jews and as Americans that our moral commitment is to human dignity and social equality. We admit our trespasses, cleanse our souls and move closer to the Promised Land.






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