Why We’re Marching: America’s Journey for Justice
When the NAACP’s America’s Journey for Justice began in Selma, AL, on August 1, the Reform Movement was there as a partner and ally.
This historic 860-mile march in which nearly 200 Reform rabbis and activists are participating, will culminate in Washington, D.C. on September 16. Throughout, the marchers are demonstrating to our nation’s leaders that Americans from a diverse array of faiths and backgrounds share a commitment to racial justice, and that it is past time for passage of legislation that will help bring the United States closer to its founding ideals of equality for all.
Over the course of the Journey, rabbis are carrying a Torah scroll, transferring responsibility for its care each day. The experience harkens back to our earliest days as a people, wandering in the desert with the mishkan in our midst. Although our Exodus from Egypt was long ago, we are still marching toward the Promised Land – one in which justice and opportunity are a reality for all Americans. After all, this year as our nation marks the 50th anniversary of the Bloody Sunday march from Selma to Montgomery, AL, we know that for far too many people, that promise remains unfulfilled.
This Journey for Justice is a moment for our entire Movement to rededicate itself to the struggle for racial justice.
Our traditions as Jews and as Americans tell us not to stand idly by when our neighbors’ blood is shed, nor when equal opportunities in education and employment are denied, nor when our brothers and sisters struggle to overcome generations of discrimination. So, as the Journey for Justice mobilizes activists around a vision that seeks uncorrupted access to the ballot box for every eligible American, a justice system rooted in principles that apply to all equally, a reality in which individuals can earn a living wage that supports their families, and equitable public education opportunities for all children, we are inspired to be present.
The Journey for Justice also reflects the Reform Movement’s historic and ongoing partnership with the NAACP. I write this message from my office on Kivie Kaplan Way, named for the former Jewish president of the NAACP – and former URJ board member – who endowed this building to stand as a hub of Jewish social justice – not just in his time, but also in ours and for generations to come. We honor our Movement’s legacy of involvement in the civil rights movement not merely by remembering it and by teaching it to our children, but by making the struggle our own.
We encourage you bring the spirit of the Journey for Justice to your community; take this opportunity to connect with others in your neighborhood, to strengthen your relationship with a local black church or to reach out and spark a new connection. While we hope you can join in the march itself, you can also participate from your congregation and community through coordinated opportunities:
- Take part in the “virtual march” webinar on September 1 to hear from rabbis on the march and an update about the Movement’s racial justice work.
- Join the RAC and the Reform Movement in Washington, D.C. for the culminating events of the Journey on September 15 and 16.
- Urge your Members of Congress to support the Voting Rights Advancement Act and help protect the right to vote for all Americans.
When we join with our neighbors of different faiths, races, experiences, and identities, we strengthen the bonds of humanity and reiterate the call for justice not just for some, but for all.
Both Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner and Cornell William Brooks, president and CEO of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), will be featured speakers at the Union for Reform Judaism’s Biennial 2015, taking place from November 4-8 in Orlando, FL. With 5,000 attendees from around the world, the Biennial is the largest Jewish gathering in North America. Learn more and register at urj.org/biennial.