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March 9, 2015 3:43 pm

On Selma Anniversary, Remembering the Civil Rights Activism of Rabbi Heschel (VIDEO)

avatar by Alina Dain Sharon / JNS.org

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Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, second from right, participating in the civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, on March 21, 1965. Photo: Dartmouth College via Wikimedia Commons.

JNS.org – This past weekend marked the 50th anniversary of the march by African-American protesters across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, in defiance of racial discrimination. This important event in the history of the American civil rights movement was also a tragic moment because many of the protesters were brutally beaten by police officers.

“The Americans who crossed this bridge, they were not physically imposing. But they gave courage to millions. They held no elected office. But they led a nation. They marched as Americans who had endured hundreds of years of brutal violence, countless daily indignities—but they didn’t seek special treatment, just the equal treatment promised to them almost a century before,” US President Barack Obama said in a speech at a ceremony commemorating the anniversary in Selma on Saturday.

The Jewish role in the Selma march does not seem to be frequently acknowledged by the mainstream media. In Selma, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. walked arm in arm with Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel.

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The involvement of Heschel was omitted from the 2014 feature film “Selma,” for which the movie has received some criticism. The movie did show King embrace a Greek Orthodox priest, presumably Archbishop Lakovos, who participated in the march. But it did not show any Jewish figures.

Heschel’s participation in civil rights activism is well known. In 1963, he spoke at the he National Conference of Christians and Jews conference in Chicago, comparing the African-American struggle for civil rights with Moses’s struggle to free the Israelites from Egypt, an allusion that reportedly greatly moved Dr. King.

“It was the greatest day of my father’s life and for him, a holy day. What made my father a hero is that he cared about the needs of other people,” Heschel’s daughter, Susannah Heschel, told the Forward.

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  • John Stefanyszyn

    Obama (@ Selma) …extolling, in the name of his “God”, the PROMISE OF FREEDOM…but the apostle Peter said…

    President Obama commemorated the bloody protest (Bloody Sunday) by the African American people for their freedom and equality of rights (in this case including voting rights) which was held 50 years ago at Selma. He led the walk across the bridge, arms interlocked, with those who were present at the protest and with those who worship the freedom for “their rights”.

    President Obama gave a speech in which he extolled the promise of freedom, a freedom which he claimed was given by the “Creator God” in the American constitution of liberty…”endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights and responsibilities through self government, of and by the people”.
    He also promised that the faith in this “God’, in this Freedom, in America has and will expand the boundaries of this freedom so as to open doors of opportunity to mankind to live according to their beliefs, their religions, their sexual lifestyles. etc.;
    …for the freedom to worship the Christian faith, to worship the Muslim faith, to worship the Jewish faith, to worship the Satanist faith, to worship any other traditional “faith”, or to worship “no faith”….the right to be free to worship ANY ‘god’ ( but did not the One Creator command “you shall NOT worship any other ‘gods’?)
    …this SAME freedom also includes the freedom (that it is a right, that it is right) to live not only the heterosexual lifestyle but also the homosexual lifestyle, the bi sexual lifestyle, the polygamist lifestyle, the free sex lifestyle ( of which the consequence on others (men, women, children, unborn children) is the transmission of disease, unwanted pregnancies, abortions, fatherless children, single mothers, financial hardships, etc)

    Did the African American people, who participated in the Selma walk, realize that their desire for their Freedom, that this same Freedom also opens the door for man to justify “self- claimed rights”, for man to live according to what he defined to be right in his own eyes?
    …the One Creator said to Cain…”if you do good, will you not be accepted?….and if you do not do good, then sin lies at the door and its desire is for you.”

    President Obama stated that ” the most powerful word in our democracy is the word ‘WE'”.
    Yes it is the “WE”…and it starts with ‘me , myself, and I’. Democracy ( demo-cracy) is defined as self-rule. To be ruler of oneself. To be free to do one’s own will. Freedom in its essence is not concerned with the welfare of the other, of the brother. Freedom is first and foremost concerned with the well being of “oneself”….as Cain defiantly and arrogantly proclaimed in self-righteousness… “am I my brother’s keeper?!”.

    President Obama makes reference to some scriptures. Many politicians complain that people take their words out of context. In this case, President Obama has done the same…he has taken the words in scripture out of context of the entire truth of the One God. People, preachers, rabbis, imams speak the “words of God” but do not walk the entire truth.

    The apostle Peter ( in Peter II) warned those that claimed to follow Christ about leaders that “PROMISE FREEDOM”.
    …And through covetousness, through one’s desire for and belief in self-interest/self-will, they will mould/ manipulate/ pervert the words of scripture to justify/glorify their way and they will make gain of you (will convince you)… and you will willingly receive this “mark” and live by its way.

    These are daring (presumptuous / arrogant / self-righteous) and self-willed …who mock and blaspheme the “glories / those of the Truth” which they do not respect/ fear, whereas angels, in strength and power greater being, do not even bring against them (the self-willed), before the Lord, a railing (accusative) charge.

    But these (self-willed), as natural irrational animals (born for capture and corruption)…
    …speak evil and blaspheme that which they are ignorant of, (which in their corruption they shall utterly perish, being about to receive reward of unrighteousness);
    …esteeming (leading/advancing) the indulgence in daily self-desire/self-interest (which is a fault and disgrace);
    …luxuriating in their feasts (celebrations / worship) of deceits with you, eyes having full of an adulteress, and that cease not from sin (the way of error)…alluring souls unestablished (unstable);
    …they are cursed children having a heart exercised in craving (covetousness/ self gain/self interest/self-rights).

    Having left the straight Way, they went astray having followed in the way of Balaam of Bosor, who loved the reward of unrighteousness (self-interest and self-will)…but who received reproof of “his own” wickedness, as the prophet came to madness… as a dumb beast of burden speaking in a man’s voice.

    These (believers in self-will/free-will) are “fountains” without water, being driven by stormy clouds, to whom the gloom of darkness for ever is kept.

    For by speaking great swelling words of vanity ( of pride in and admiration of “oneself”, of “WE”), they allure (entice) , by licentiousness (self-will / free-will / freedom) and the desires of “one-self”, those who scarcely (the few who) escaped from those who in error walk , PROMISING THEM FREEDOM, not realizing that they themselves are bondmen of corruption (destruction)….for by whom anyone has been subdued, by him also he is held in bondage.

    For if having escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge (accurate knowledge) of the One Lord and Savior Jesus Christ , but by these again having been entangled and are subdued , has become to them the last (state) worse than the first .
    …Better for it were for them not to have known the One Way of Righteousness than, having known it, to have turned from the Holy Teaching which was delivered to them.

    But has happened to them the word of the true proverb: dog having returned to his own vomit; and the cleaned sow to rolling in the place of mire.

    Will come at the close of the days, mockers (deluders/deceivers) walking (living-doing-worshipping) according to one’s self lusts (desires / freedoms / interests / self-rights…so as to serve and magnify oneself (XES)) …. defiantly and arrogantly saying “Where is the promise of His Coming” … thus redefining, denying, and rejecting the Preeminence, Lordship, and Rulership of Jesus Christ as the One and Only True Way, as the One King and Son of the Only God…rejecting to serve the Will of the One Creator God and instead embracing, serving, and glorifying the belief in free will / self will / freedom of all religions (gods) / freedom of self-rights.

    Christ said…”not my will but Yours be done”, which Christ did in love for the One and Only Father and in love for those who overcome and follow Only Him, the One True Way.
    …and it is Only The Lord Jesus Christ that will very soon return to rule the earth in power according to and in obedience to the Will of the One Creator ‘I AM’ and NOT according to man’s first love for “his self-righteous freedom”.

    • Why do you Christian folks always think that posting your blather on Jewish sites is going to convert us? Most of spam-post doesn’t even have anything to do with the topic. It’s just canned spam. Get a life.

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