On the evening of March 25, 1968, ten days before he was killed, Dr. King appeared at the sixty-eighth annual convention of the Rabbinical Assembly. He was presented to the Assembly by Dr. Abraham Joshua Heschel, his comrade in the Civil Rights struggle of the '60s (whose yahrzeit is today). Read the transcript of that Conversation with Martin Luther King, as recorded in the journal "Conservative Judaism." Also see To Birmingham and Back, an eyewitness account from a rabbi who participated in those historic events.
On Friday night, we'll be honored to host an old friend to so many of us, Rev. Ann Schmidt. At the conclusion of the service, which will be led this week by myself and Steve Leiterstein, with Rabbinic Pastor David Daniel Klipper delivering a brief d'var Torah, Ann will discuss the medical and spiritual impact of her recent heart transplant surgery. From the conversations I've had with her during this very trying period, I know just how moving and profound her words will be. Please join us tonight, at 7:30 in the lobby.
Last November, the Jewish Home in Fairfield organized an Israel trip like none other, taking several nonagenarians on the trip of a lifetime. Among them was Leslie Novis, who turns 91 this weekend. Making the trip extra special for Leslie was the fact that his granddaughters Gaby and Marley Baum participated in a service at the Kotel, where Gaby became Bat Mitzvah and Marley, too young to be Bat Mitzvah, also celebrated by participating in the event. Click here to see a lovely photo of Gaby, Marley and Leslie. This Shabbat morning, all three will be participating in the service, as we will have the chance to celebrate with them and welcome them home.
Also on Shabbat morning, we'll begin the book of Exodus by reading the portion Sh'mot, which means names. At its beginning, the portion lists the names of those who descended to Egypt with Jacob, leading to a description of the astounding growth of the fledgling nation and the decision of a new pharaoh, one who did not know Joseph, to enslave them. But in fact the most important name revealed in the portion is that of God - the four letter name by which God introduces Godself to Moses at the burning bush in Exodus 3:15. We'll talk about that name in greater detail - along with other names we have for God - on Shabbat morning. You can get a preview of the Parsha packet here.
In his appearance before the Rabbinical Assembly in 1968, Dr. King said something that is as true now as it was then:
"The fact is that we are tied together in an inescapable network of mutuality. Whether we like it or not and whether the racist understands it or not, our music, our cultural patterns, our poets, our material prosperity and even our food, are an amalgam of black and white, and there can be no separate black path to power and fulfillment that does not ultimately intersect white routes. There can be no separate white path to power and fulfillment, short of social disaster, that does not recognize the necessity of sharing that power with black aspirations for freedom and justice."
Let us take that thought into this special weekend, wherever we may be.