Sometimes you just know something is not only the right thing to do, it’s also the ONLY thing to do. On March 25, 1965, my father-in-law, Leonard Comess, was among the thousands of people who entered Montgomery, Alabama with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.at the end of a 5-day march from Selma. I’ve always admired how he “prayed with his legs”. I wrote a song about it for my kids when they were little (https://itunes.apple.com/…/your-grandpa-marche…/id407836156…) so that not just they, but WE ALL would remember that march and all those, like Lenny, who acted out their ideals. There have been a few times in my life when I have had the privilege to do likewise, but nothing that came close to that amazing march. So when I heard about NAACP’s America’s Journey for Justice, I just knew I had to be part of it. The Central Conference of American Rabbis and the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism put out the call for at least one rabbi to join the America’s Journey for Justice for each of its forty days. So…I booked a flight. I signed up to be part of the journey on August 16th. For at least that day, I will humbly walk in the footsteps of Lenny Comess and Dr. King.
Forty is an important number in Judaism. The flood of the earth which Noah’s family and all the species of animals survived was 40 days and nights long. Moses was on Mt. Sinai receiving the Ten Commandments for 40 days. The Jewish people journeyed in the Sinai desert for 40 years before arriving at the land of Canaan (later Israel). Moses lived 3 times 40 years. Forty was the Hebrew Bible’s way of saying, “a long time”. Could it be just a coincidence that America’s Journey for Justice will be 40 days long? My fellow rabbis and I won’t see it that way. We won’t feel it that way. Justice has been lacking for the African American community for far too long in this country. We’ll be carrying a Sefer Torah (Torah scroll) every step of this journey because it is that Torah that urges us to mandate ourselves to ALWAYS journey for justice, to always remember that we were slaves and to therefore free all others who are in any way enslaved, to journey for justice because we have felt the absence of justice many times in our history, to NOT do to others that which is hateful to us. WE experienced racial/ethnic profiling. WE experienced roadblocks to educational opportunities. WE experienced unfair pay and even forced labor. WE experienced having the right to vote as well as other civil rights stripped away from us. WE join this journey literally or in spirit because it is how and where we must be.
I have the privilege of being able to actually join the Journey for a day. YOU can virtually join the Journey by signing the petition below. As always, thanks for praying with your legs!