50 years ago today, this happened:
On that day, people came together in support of civil rights. Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr famously spoke, giving us language for the hope that so many of us (continue to) have. Even before that, Rabbi Joachim Prinz also spoke, offering Jewish wisdom about the fight for civil rights. You can listen to his speech here:
And today, we continue our sacred mandate to fight for civil rights for all.
Today, tonight really, I had the opportunity to use my voice to support that fight, as I addressed our City Council in support of the proposed Non-Discrimination Ordinance. Tonight I had the chance to use my voice to support my own religious beliefs–letting it be known that the voice of some religion is not the voice of all religion. Tonight I got to hear a variety of views (even more diverse than I could have imagined), and share my own insights.
I believe that we must fight for the rights of all people because they are all created b’tzelem elohim, in the image of God. I believe that because we were strangers in Egypt, and have been strangers so many times, it is my sacred mandate as a Jew to fight for the stranger. I believe that someday, we might see a day when King’s dream is a reality–and when all discrimination is behind us.
But to voice that isn’t always easy. To accomplish that, we need to be brave. We need to dare. We need to challenge ourselves to speak out and be heard. We need to dare to be respectful towards the other side, even through our disagreement. And we need to persue a time when laws are based not on prejudice, but on justice. When righteousness exists for all people.
It can be hard to speak out. But we must dare to do so.