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June 9, 2016 3:53 am

Jewish Comedian Billy Crystal, Rabbi Michael Lerner to Give Eulogies at Muhammad Ali’s Funeral

avatar by Shiryn Ghermezian

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Boxer Muhammad Ali, died on June 3. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Boxer Muhammad Ali, died on June 3. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Jewish comedian Billy Crystal and Michael Lerner, founder and rabbi of the Beyt Tikkun Synagogue in Berkeley, Calif., are among those scheduled to give a eulogy at Muhammad Ali’s funeral on Friday in Louisville, Kentucky.

After news broke on June 3 about the legendary boxer’s death, Crystal posted on Twitter a video of his performance at Ali’s retirement tribute in 1979, with the caption, “For the greatest man I have ever known.” The performance, titled “15 Rounds,” had the three-time heavyweight world champion roaring with laughter, as Crystal did impressions of the boxer while recapping his life.

Rabbi Lerner, who is founding editor of Tikkun Magazine, fought beside Ali as an anti-Vietnam War activist. When Ali refused to adhere to the US government’s policy of conscription, he was banned from boxing for more than three years, according to The Jewish Chronicle.

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The rabbi wrote on Facebook on Monday that he is “deeply humbled and honored” to be invited to speak at the funeral of the world famous boxer, who lived with Parkinson’s disease for more than 30 years and passed away at the age of 74.

“It has been several decades since I worked with Muhammad Ali in the peace movement challenging the Vietnam War,” he added. “The US government indicted both of us for our nonviolent actions against that war. But that was many decades ago. So imagine my surprise to receive a call on Sunday morning from Muhammad Ali’s family who invited him to be a speaker at the funeral/memorial ceremony this coming Friday.”

In an article published in Tikkun Magazine, Rabbi Lerner payed tribute to Ali’s “courageous fight for peace, social justice, and a world in which love and generosity wins out over fear, hate, militarism and domination.”

“As a religious Jew and rabbi I wish to honor this comrade in the struggle for tikkun olam – the healing, repair and transformation of our world,” he said.

Entertainment Tonight reported that the funeral service on Friday will include a poetry reading and several eulogies from Ali’s close friends, family members and former President Bill Clinton.

There will also be an Islamic funeral prayer program held in Ali’s honor on Thursday at the Freedom Hall in Louisville, the site of his last fight there in 1961, when he defeated Willi Besmanoff.

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  • Larry Bernstein

    I was embarassed by the so call;ed “Rabbi” Lerner and his political speech at the Ali funeraL Services. His pro palestinian, democratic party rant was not indicative of anything but his own far left wing views. And, this was not the place place for his Anti Israel rant. A Shonda.

  • Vicki Trachten

    On the day that Palestinian Muslims are celebrating the slaughter of Jewish civilians the mentally ill Lerner not a Rabbi but a cruel man speaks about occupation in the Jewish Homeland
    No occupation no government of Palestine
    Please Jewish people as Bill Clinton applauds we are burying our own
    Today tens of thousands were rounded up in Europe for mass slaughter 1952
    May the haters of the world who lie about Jews America and want the Hillary a liar who wears thousands of dollars of clothing outfits when speaking of the poor gives charity not of her own but what the Clinton Foundation has raised through political deals Do not vote for her
    She is a liar a con artist Her views are what you heard today from the likes of the self hater Michael Lerner a Jew but not a friend Take off your kippah and Tallis you are an embarrassment and do not represent me
    Israel defend yourself in the true Israel Judaea Samaria and our eternal capital Jerusalem
    Good Shabbos Chag Sameach

  • Mohamed Ali was a devout anti-Semites and was anti-israel. For Jews to eulogize him is wrong

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