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Rabbi Perry Nussbaum and wife after bombing of their home

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Rabbi Perry Nussbaum and wife after bombing of their home. Courtesy of the Institute for Southern Jewish Life.

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The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom

Unit 2 , Lesson 7

Jewish Women's Archive - Living the Legacy

http://jwa.org/LivingtheLegacy

The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom

Document studies: 

What were the goals and messages of the March on Washington?

Directions

  1. Examine each document in your packet one at a time, reading any texts out loud. Discuss the Description Discussion Questions with each document.
  2. After examining all of the documents in your packet, read and discuss the Analysis questions (below).
  3. Using the Analysis questions as a guide, choose 1 or 2 documents (or excerpts from documents) that you think best demonstrate what your group learned.
  4. Write captions for your documents.
  5. Your teacher will give you further instructions as to how your group will share your findings.

March on Washington Button

March on Washington Button
Full image
Button belonging to Charly Mann, who went to the March on Washington the summer before 8th grade. http://www.chapelhillmemories.com/cat/14/83. Permission to use granted by Charly Mann.

March on Washington Button: Discussion Questions - Description

  1. What do you see on this button? (Give everyone in the group a chance to add something that they see.)
  2. Just looking at the button, what do you think the phrase "Jobs and Freedom" means? What do you see that makes you say that?
  3. Based on what you see in this button, what do you think were some of the implicit and explicit goals of the 1963 March on Washington? What makes you say that?
  4. Based on what you've already learned about the Civil Rights Movement, what types of freedoms do you think the marchers hoped to bring about?

Photograph of the March on Washington featuring "We march for..." signs and Civil Rights Movement leaders

We march for...
Full image
United States Information Agency, photograph of the March on Washington (civil rights and union leaders), August 28, 1963. National archive number 80-G-16871. Retrieved from: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:March_on_washington_Aug_28_1963.jpg

Marchers Photograph: Discussion Questions - Description

  1. What is going on here? What do you see that makes you say that?
  2. What do the slogans on the placards suggest to you? How are they the same or different from what you remember of Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech?
  3. Why do you think the photographer framed the picture the way he/she did? How would the effect have been different if the man with his back to the camera had been left out? How would the effect have been different if the photographer had zoomed in on only a few people in the front row?
  4. Based on what you see in this photograph, what specific demands did the civil rights activists at the March on Washington have?
  5. If you made some predictions about the goals of the marchers, based on the March on Washington button on the previous page, how accurately did your predictions match the demands on signs in this photograph?

Context for John Lewis speech

John Lewis was the leader of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) at the time of the March on Washington. The youngest of the "Big Six," (as the heads of a group of major civil rights organizations were known), Lewis wanted to use the platform of the March provocatively, to push the public to take stronger action. After a draft of his original speech was circulated, President Kennedy's administration and some of the March's leadership demanded that Lewis change his speech. Lewis and other student leaders protested this censorship, but ultimately, a personal intervention from respected civil rights leader A. Philip Randolph persuaded Lewis to tone down his speech.

Note: Audio of John Lewis' speech from a live radio broadcast can be downloaded from NPR. After his speech, one of the radio commentators notes that changes were made in the speech from the prepared text given to the press earlier that day.

Excerpt of John Lewis' Speech delivered at the March on Washington

We march today for jobs and freedom, but we have nothing to be proud of, for hundreds and thousands of our brothers are not here, for they are receiving starvation wages or no wages at all. While we stand here, there are sharecroppers in the Delta of Mississippi who are out in the fields working for less than three dollars a day, 12 hours a day. While we stand here, there are students in jail on trumped-up charges…

We come here today with a great sense of misgiving. It is true that we support the administration's Civil Rights Bill. We support it with great reservation, however. Unless title three is put in this bill, there's nothing to protect the young children and old women who must face police dogs and fire hoses in the South while they engage in peaceful demonstration...

My friends let us not forget that we are involved in a serious social revolution. By and large, American politics is dominated by politicians who build their career on immoral compromise and allow themselves an open forum of political, economic and social exploitation dominate American politics.

There are exceptions, of course. We salute those. But what political leader can stand up and say, ‘My party is a party of principles’? For the party of Kennedy is also the party of Eastland. The party of Javits is also the party of Goldwater. Where is our party? Where is the political party that will make it unnecessary to march on Washington? Where is the political party that will make it unnecessary to march in the streets of Birmingham? Where is the political party that will protect the citizens of Albany, Georgia?...

To those who have said, ‘Be patient and wait,’ we must say that we cannot be patient. We do not want our freedom gradually but we want to be free now...

…I appeal to all of you to get into this great revolution that is sweeping this nation. Get in and stay in the streets of every city, every village and hamlet of this nation until true freedom comes, until a revolution is complete. We must get in this revolution and complete the revolution. In the Delta of Mississippi, in Southwest Georgia, in the Black Belt of Alabama, in Harlem, in Chicago, Detroit, Philadelphia and all over this nation the black masses are on a march for jobs and freedom.

They're talking about slow down and stop. We will not stop…If we do not get meaningful legislation out of this Congress, the time will come when we will not confine our march into Washington. We will march through the South, through the streets of Jackson, through the streets of Danville, through the streets of Cambridge, through the streets of Birmingham. But we will march with the spirit of love and with the spirit of dignity that we have shown here today.

By the forces of our demands, our determination and our numbers, we shall send a desegregated South into a thousand pieces, put them together in the image of God and Democracy. We must say wake up America, wake up! For we cannot stop, and we will not and cannot be patient.


John Lewis, Speech delivered at the March on Washington, 28 August 1963. Audio recording of the speech is available online.


…In good conscience, we cannot support the administration's civil rights bill; for it is too little, and too late…

Moreover, we have learned—and you—should know—since we are here for Jobs and Freedom—that within the past ten days a spokesman for the Administration appeared in a secret session before the committee that's writing the civil-rights bill and opposed and has almost killed a provision that would have guaranteed in voting suits, for the first time, a fair federal district judge. And, I might add, this Administration's bill or any other civil rights bill—as the 1960 civil-rights act—will be totally worthless when administered by racist judges, many of whom have been consistently appointed by President Kennedy.

I want to know, which side is the Federal Government on?

The revolution is at hand, and we must free ourselves of the chains of political and economic slavery...To those who have said, ‘Be patient and wait’, we must say that, ‘Patience is a dirty and nasty word’. We cannot be patient, we do not want to be free gradually, we want our freedom, and we want it now. We cannot depend on any political party, for both the Democrats and the Republicans have betrayed the basic principles of the Declaration of Independence…

The revolution is a serious one, Mr. Kennedy is trying to take the revolution out of the street and put it in the courts. Listen Mr. Kennedy, Listen Mr. Congressmen, Listen fellow citizens, the black masses are on the march for jobs and freedom, and we must say to the politicians that there won't be a ‘cooling-off’ period…

…We will march through the South, through the Heart of Dixie, the way Sherman did. We shall pursue our own ‘scorched earth’ policy and burn Jim Crow to the ground—non-violently…We will make the action of the past few months look petty…


John Lewis, Cut portions of original speech prepared for the March on Washington, 28 August 1963.


John Lewis speech: Discussion Questions

  1. Primary Document Review: Who wrote this speech? When was it delivered?
  2. Who was the intended audience(s) for this speech? How do you think this might have influenced its content and/or tone?
  3. John Lewis's speech was considered controversial, even without the lines that were cut. Consider the message(s) he conveys in the speech. Have one member of your group describe in his/her own words the overall message John Lewis conveyed in the speech he delivered at the March on Washington. Have another member of your group describe the message conveyed by the portion of his speech that was cut. Have a third member of your group describe how the messages differed. (If your group doesn't find a significant difference between them, discuss why you think individuals at the time did perceive a difference and saw Lewis' speech as controversial.)
  4. How does John Lewis use analogy, language, and tone to make his point? What are some specific examples of this?
  5. What, if anything, strikes you in particular in John Lewis' speech? How does the tone and/or message differ from MLK's "I Have a Dream" speech?
  6. John Lewis was pressured by various leaders, including some of those organizing the March, to make changes to his speech or risk being cut from the program. (They were particularly concerned about the analogy he made to General Sherman's march through the South in the Civil War, in which Sherman and his troops burned down Atlanta.) With this in mind, do you think he should have cut the lines that he cut? Why or why not?

    Analysis

    After you examine all of the sources in this Document Study answer the following questions:

    1. Civil Rights activists used many different tactics to effect change. What are the various ways you think a march can impact a movement? What do you think was effective and/or not effective about the March on Washington, from what you've learned thus far?
    2. Using all the evidence provided by the documents you examined and your discussion so far, make a list of the goals/purposes of the March on Washington reflected in these documents. (There were other central goals, such as advocating for the passage of the Civil Rights Act, that are not reflected in your packet.)
    3. How might some of these goals be competing? How do you think the organizers of the March might have dealt with the fact that there were several agendas for the event?

    What role did religion play in speeches at the March on Washington?

    "I Have a Dream..." Talmud Page

    "I Have a Dream..." Talmud Page
    Full image
    The “I Have a Dream” Talmud page and the accompanying study guide were prepared by Hillel’s Meyerhoff Center for Jewish Learning Director Rabbi Avi Weinstein for the 2001 Charlotte and Jack J. Spitzer B'nai B'rith Hillel Forum on Public Policy. Used with permission of Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life, hillel.org.

    This version of the Talmud Page is optimized for printing on 11" x 17" paper. Original at www.hillel.org/jewish/textstudies/special/mlk.htm

    Related content:

    Discussion Questions - Description

    1. Review: Who wrote and delivered the "I Have a Dream" speech? When?
    2. Who was the intended audience for this speech? How do you think this might have influenced the content and tone of this speech?
    3. Read the text on the center of the page (the original speech) out loud in your group. Based only on this text, and not on other things you've heard about this speech, describe in your own words, what is Martin Luther King's dream?
    4. It's not surprising that King, a minister, used biblical references in his speech. Many of his listeners may have been aware of these references, but others may not have been aware of the literary complexities of this speech. Which, if any, of these references are familiar to you? What associations do you have with them?
    5. On the "I Have a Dream" Talmud page, some of the references have been highlighted and explained. Choose 3 of the highlighted phrases and read the commentary in the margin.
    6. How, if at all, do you interpret or think about this speech differently looking at it today in a Jewish context?

    Optional

    To further explore the "I Have a Dream…" Talmud Page, use the study guide found at www.hillel.org/NR/rdonlyres/743F812F-0F35-4C72-9268-0A6A4EADF305/0/MLK_Navigator.pdf.

    Rabbi Joachim Prinz speech at the March on Washington

    Discussion Questions - Description

    1. African Americans can be seen as having a "hyphenated identity" (black and American—an identity that combines race and nationality). Consider what hyphenated group Rabbi Prinz is speaking as a member of. How does he make it clear that this group is hyphenated?
    2. According to Rabbi Prinz, why do Jews identify with African Americans?
    3. How does Rabbi Prinz connect the Civil Rights Movement to the Holocaust?
    4. What does Rabbi Prinz believe is the "most urgent problem" facing America?
    5. What does he see as the solution to this problem?

    Analysis

    After you examine all of the documents in your packet answer the following questions:

    1. How was the Bible, a text held to be sacred by Jews and Christians alike, used in the speeches given at the March on Washington? How might this have unified and created bonds between diverse marchers? What other effects might this have had?
    2. Several Jewish leaders were an official presence at the March on Washington. Jewish leadership represented on the platform included Shad Polier of the American Jewish Congress, Rabbi Leon Foyer of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, George Maislan of the United Synagogue of America, Rabbi Joachim Prinz of the American Jewish Congress, and Rabbi Uri Miller of the Synagogue Council of America. Why might these individuals have felt it was important to be there? Why did the organizers of the March feel it was important to include Jewish leadership? What significance do you think the public presence of Jewish leaders might have had on participants and those viewing/listening at home?
    3. While Rabbi Joachim Prinz seems to have had a message for Jewish participants, how do you think his message may have been received by non-Jewish participants?
    4. Do you ever feel hyphenated (part of a group with two identities)? Share some of your hyphenated identities with one another. Consider: When do you identify more strongly with the Jewish part of your identity? When do you identify more strongly with the American (or other) part of your identity? When do you identify more strongly with another part of your identity (besides Jewish or American)? What causes might you support as a Jew? What causes might you support as an American? What causes might you support as an…[insert another part of your identity here]?

    Who participated in the March on Washington?

    Central Conference of American Rabbis at the March on Washington

    Central Conference of American Rabbis at the March on Washington
    Full image
    Hillel Gamoran, Slide Collection No. 3487, The Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives, 1963.

    Central Conference of American Rabbis photograph: Discussion Questions - Description

    1. What is going on here? What do you see that makes you say that?
    2. Based on the signs they are carrying, who do you think these marchers are?
    3. What do the signs they are carrying suggest that their organization supports?
    4. Based on what you know about this group, would you have expected them to have participated in the March on Washington? Why or why not?
    5. Why do you think they chose to march under this "banner"? What message do you think they were trying to send to other people at the March? To people who might see the March on TV?

    National Federation of Temple Youth at the March on Washington

    National Federation of Temple Youth at the March on Washington
    Full image
    Hillel Gamoran, Slide Collection No. 3488, The Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives, 1963.

    NFTY photograph: Discussion Questions - Description

    1. What is going on here? What do you see that makes you say that?
    2. Based on the National Federation of Temple Youth banner they are carrying, who do you think these marchers are?
    3. What do the signs they are carrying suggest that their organization supports?
    4. Based on what you know about this group, would you have expected them to have participated in the March on Washington? Why or why not?
    5. Why do you think they chose to march under this "banner"? What message do you think they were trying to send to other people at the March? To people who might see the March on TV?

    The Emma Lazarus Federation of Jewish Women’s Clubs at the March on Washington

    The Emma Lazarus Federation of Jewish Women's Clubs
    Full image
    Photograph of the Emma Lazarus Federation of Jewish Women’s Clubs at the March on Washington, 1963. Courtesy of The Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives.

    Emma Lazarus Federation Photograph: Discussion Questions - Description

    1. What is going on here? What do you see that makes you say that?
    2. Based on the banner they are in front of, who do you think these marchers are?
    3. What does the banner behind them suggest that their organization supports?
    4. Would you have expected this type of group to have participated in the March on Washington? Why or why not?
    5. Why do you think they chose to march under this "banner"? What message do you think they were trying to send to other people at the March? To people who might see the March on TV?
    6. How is this group the same as or different from the groups in the first two pictures you examined?
    7. How, if at all, does this photograph affect your understanding of the March on Washington?
    • Optional: Visit JWA's Women of Valor exhibit on Emma Lazarus to learn more about the namesake of the Emma Lazarus Federation of Jewish Women's Clubs (ELF). Lazarus is the author of "The New Colossus," the poem on the Statue of Liberty that begins "Give me your tired, your poor…"
    • The Emma Lazarus Federation of Jewish Women's Clubs, founded in the 1950's, fought anti-Semitism and racism while celebrating Jewish culture and striving to provide, "leadership to women in the Jewish communities in our time in the same spirit as Emma Lazarus did in hers." How does knowing more about Emma Lazarus and the ELF impact your understanding of the photograph?

      Analysis

      After you examine all of the documents in your packet answer the following questions:

      1. Based on the photographs you've examined, make a list of some of the people/groups who participated in the March on Washington. Include both general and specific categories. (Remember that while this packet focused on Jewish participation in the March on Washington, most of the participants were not Jewish.)
      2. Each of the photographs you examined featured a group marching under a Jewish banner. Why do you think these marchers chose to identify themselves as Jewish marchers? When might you want to march under a Jewish banner? When might you not want to march under a Jewish banner? What other banner might you want to march under?
      3. Having examined these photos, do you identify with any of the groups or individuals pictured? Imagine that you had gone to the March on Washington. How might you have participated?

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      Jewish clergy in the Civil Rights Movement

      Unit 2 , Lesson 6

      Jewish Women's Archive - Living the Legacy

      http://jwa.org/LivingtheLegacy

      Jewish clergy in the Civil Rights Movement

      Document studies: 

      Rabbi Milton Grafman Sermon

      Milton Grafman (1907-1988)

      Born in Washington, and ordained at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in 1931, Milton Grafman spent most of his career as the rabbi of Temple Emanu-El in Birmingham, AL. Like many southern rabbis, Milton Grafman found himself caught between the realities of southern Jewish life and civil rights activists. While he and other clergy worked for the integration of public parks, thus angering many white southerners, he also believed that civil rights activists, especially Jewish ones, wanted to change things too quickly and did not understand the realities of southern life or the position of southern Jews.1

      In 1963, civil rights activists began a large-scale protest of segregation in Birmingham. Faced with an injunction to stop the protest, Martin Luther King announced he would march on City Hall. Many feared widespread violence. Rabbi Grafman and eight other members of the clergy met to share their concerns, angered by King's insistence on protesting before the recently elected mayor had a chance to pass desegregation legislation. They wrote a letter, published the next day in Birmingham's newspapers, in which they essentially asked King to wait and give the moderate government a chance. Despite the letter, the protests continued.

      On April 16, 1963, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. wrote his famous "Letter from a Birmingham Jail." Addressed to the local white clergy who had been critical of King's tactics, the letter expressed King's disappointment with their inaction.2

      In September of the same year, Birmingham's 16th Street Baptist Church was bombed, killing several African American children. The bombing occurred on Sunday, September 16, and the funeral for the children was held on Tuesday. Rosh Hashana began that same Tuesday evening. In his sermon on Rosh Hashana morning, Rabbi Grafman expressed his horror at the violence and loss and asserted that white citizens in Birmingham – Jews and Christians together – needed to help make things right.

      Sermon by Milton Grafman, September 19, 1963

      Discussion Questions

      1. Review: Who gave this sermon? When? Where?
      2. How do you think the way it was communicated might have influenced the message?
      3. Who was the intended audience? How do you think that might have influenced the message?
      4. Rabbi Grafman repeats several times that he is sick at heart. What do you think he means by this exactly? What seems to have caused him to feel this way?
      5. In what ways has Rabbi Grafman supported the Civil Rights Movement? In what ways has he not? What does he suggest he has always been mindful of in making his decisions about whether or not to act?
      6. What is Rabbi Grafman calling on his congregants to do? Why does he think they need to do this?
      7. How does Rabbi Grafman think change will come about in Birmingham? How do you think this differs from how civil rights activists want to bring about change?
      8. How do you think Rabbi Grafman's and his congregation's relationship to the Civil Rights Movement is complicated by the fact that they live in the South?
      9. What do you think Rabbi Grafman believes is his appropriate role in the Civil Rights Movement? What evidence do you have for this? Do you agree or disagree with this view of the role of a rabbi?
      10. Are there any current political/social issues on which you think rabbis today should take a stand? What kind of role would you want to see them take?

      Abraham Joshua Heschel

      Abraham Joshua Heschel (1907-1972)

      Born in Warsaw into a Hasidic dynasty in 1907, Abraham Joshua Heschel was ordained in Europe. He also pursued a secular education, but was unable to finish his doctorate in Germany because of anti-Semitism. After Adolf Hitler came to power and began his campaign against the Jews, many rabbinic seminaries in America invited European rabbis to teach at their schools. In this way, Abraham Joshua Heschel came to Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of America (the Reform movement's seminary) in 1940. Later, he moved to the faculty of the Jewish Theological Seminary, feeling that this was a better fit with his traditional Jewish background and views.

      Abraham Joshua Heschel is considered to be one of the great theologians of the twentieth century. He wrote on many Jewish topics including the Prophets. Heschel's experience during the Holocaust and his study of the Jewish prophets influenced his belief that Judaism required of one both deeds and actions. Known as "Father Abraham" to many of Martin Luther King's followers, Abraham Joshua Heschel was an outspoken activist for civil rights who marched with King, met with John F. Kennedy about civil rights legislation, and is celebrated by many in the Jewish community for his involvement in the Civil Rights Movement and other movements for social justice. His reflection on participating in the civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama in March, 1965 -- "I felt my legs were praying" -- has become a model of activism as religious practice.

      Telegram from Abraham Joshua Heschel to President John F. Kennedy, June 16, 1963

      Telegram from Abraham Joshua Heschel to President John F. Kennedy, June 16, 1963
      Full image
      Telegram from Abraham Joshua Heschel to President John F. Kennedy, June 16, 1963, Moral grandeur and spiritual audacity: essays, ed. Susannah Heschel (New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1996), vii. Copyright Professor Susannah Heschel.

      Abraham Joshua Heschel on the Selma March, 1965

      Abraham Joshua Heschel on the Selma March, 1965
      Full image
      Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel marching with other civil rights leaders from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, on March 21, 1965. From far left: John Lewis; an unidentified nun; Ralph Abernathy; Martin Luther King, Jr.; Ralph Bunche; Abraham Joshua Heschel; the Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth.

      Discussion Questions

      Part I
      1. Initial assessment: Who wrote this telegram? When was it written? What was the context for writing the telegram?
      2. How do you think the format (a telegram) might have influenced the message?
      3. Who was his specific audience? What larger audience might this telegram also have been meant for?
      4. In the first half of the telegram, Heschel asks the president to make some demands of religious leaders. Let's recap: What are these demands? Why does Heschel think this is necessary? Your interpretation: What do you think of a religious leader asking the President of the United States (a secular leader) to make religious demands of religious leaders?
      5. In the second half of the telegram, Heschel makes certain proposals to the President. What are these proposals? Your interpretation: How do they blend religious issues and political issues?
      6. Heschel says that "We forfeit the right to worship God as long as we continue to humiliate Negroes." What do you think he meant by this? Do you agree? Do you think worshipping God is a right that we earn through our actions? If so, what do you think are the kinds of actions that might forfeit this right?
      7. What do you think Abraham Joshua Heschel meant when he said "The hour calls for high moral grandeur and spiritual audacity?" What do those words mean to you?
      8. What do you think the purpose of this telegram is?
      Part II
      1. How do you think Abraham Joshua Heschel's experience and/or Jewish values influence his participation in the Civil Rights Movement? What in the telegram makes you say that?
      2. Do you think this is an appropriate role for a rabbi? Why or why not?
      3. Are there any current political/social issues on which you think rabbis today should take a stand? What kind of role would you want to see them take?

      Rabbis Who Marched in Alabama

      Background

      The newspaper article in this Document Study comes from Rabbi William G. Braude's personal papers, and brief biographies of Rabbi Braude and other Rabbis involved in the incident are included.

      William G. Braude (1907-1988)
      Born in Lithuania in 1907, William Braude came to America with his parents in 1920. In 1931, he was ordained at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, the Reform movement's seminary. His first and only pulpit was at Temple Beth-El in Providence, RI, where he worked on behalf of African Americans even before the formal beginning of the Civil Rights Movement and continued his involvement as a supporter of Martin Luther King, Jr. However, he did not support all civil rights legislation. In this he differed from many of his congregants who disagreed with his conservative politics.

      Saul Leeman
      Ordained at the Jewish Theological Seminary, the rabbinic school of the Conservative movement, Saul Leeman had a pulpit at the Cranston Jewish Center in Cranston, RI (now Temple Torat Yisrael) during the 1960s.

      Nathan Rosen
      Nathan Rosen's first pulpit was in Savannah, GA, where he learned about Jim Crow laws and the degradation of America's African American community first hand. By the 1960s, Rabbi Rosen was the director of the Hillel Foundation at Brown University, in Providence RI.

      Southern Hospitality Was Not Extended Say R.I. Rabbis Who Marched in Alabama

      Southern Hospitality Was Not Extended Say R.I. Rabbis Who Marched in Alabama, page 1 of 2
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      "Southern Hospitality Was Not Extended Say R.I. Rabbis Who Marched in Alabama," Rhode Island Herald, 2 April, 1965, 1,8. Permission to use granted by The Voice & Herald of Rhode Island.
      Southern Hospitality Was Not Extended Say R.I. Rabbis Who Marched in Alabama, page 2 of 2
      Full image
      "Southern Hospitality Was Not Extended Say R.I. Rabbis Who Marched in Alabama," Rhode Island Herald, 2 April, 1965, 1,8. Permission to use granted by The Voice & Herald of Rhode Island.

      Discussion Questions

      Part I
      1. Initial assessment: Who wrote this article? When?
      2. In what context was it written?
      3. Who was the intended audience for this document? How do you think this influenced the message of the article and/or what the rabbis told the interviewer?
      4. What did Rabbis Braude, Leeman, and Rosen do, according to this article?
      5. According to this article, why did these rabbis choose to march in Alabama? What other reasons do you think might have influenced their decision?
      6. According to this article, what kind of reception did these rabbis receive from people in Alabama? How did this reflect the feelings of the different groups whom they met?
      7. Did they feel that the march was effective? Why?
      8. How did the rabbis build on their experience by bringing it to the attention of others?
      Part II
      1. How do you think these rabbis' experience and/or Jewish values influence their participation in the Civil Rights Movement? What clues from the article make you think that?
      2. How would you describe the role that these rabbis played in the Civil Rights Movement?
      3. Do you think this is an appropriate role for a rabbi? Why or why not?
      4. Are there any current political/social issues on which you think rabbis today should take a stand? What kind of role would you want to see them take?

      Letter from the Rabbis Arrested in St. Augustine

      Michael Robinson (1934-2006)

      Born and raised in Asheville, NC, Michael Robinson was familiar with the inequalities between blacks and whites in the South, but he also learned that it didn't have to be this way. Robinson's father was an optometrist who treated black and white patients in the same office. When he was 10 years old, his "colored mammy" (an African American woman who worked as a servant, often helping to raise a white family's children) was forced to sit on the back of the bus and young Robinson chose to sit with her even though he was breaking the law and local custom.

      Michael Robinson got involved in the Civil Rights Movement in the late 40s and early 50s, while a rabbinic student at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, the Reform movement's seminary. During that time, he organized a group of fellow students to try and desegregate a Greek restaurant in Cincinnati. After ordination, Robinson took a pulpit in Croton, NY, a suburb of New York City. During the summer of 1964, Rabbi Robinson, along with a number of other Reform rabbis who had been attending the Central Conference of American Rabbis conference, answered Martin Luther King's call to join him in St. Augustine, FL. Once there, he was arrested, along with 15 other rabbis, for participating in civil rights activities.

      Why We Went: A Joint Letter from the Rabbis Arrested in St. Augustine

      Why We Went: A Joint Letter from the Rabbis Arrested in St. Augustine, page 1 of 3
      Full image
      Click "Full Image" to see transcript."Why We Went: A Joint Letter from the Rabbis Arrested in St. Augustine," June 19, 1964. From the papers of Rabbi Michael Robinson. Permission to use granted by Dr. Eugene Borowitz.
      Why We Went: A Joint Letter from the Rabbis Arrested in St. Augustine, page 2 of 3
      Full image
      "Why We Went: A Joint Letter from the Rabbis Arrested in St. Augustine," June 19, 1964. From the papers of Rabbi Michael Robinson. Permission to use granted by Dr. Eugene Borowitz.
      Why We Went: A Joint Letter from the Rabbis Arrested in St. Augustine, page 3 of 3
      Full image
      "Why We Went: A Joint Letter from the Rabbis Arrested in St. Augustine," June 19, 1964. From the papers of Rabbi Michael Robinson. Permission to use granted by Dr. Eugene Borowitz.

      Discussion Questions

      Part I
      1. Initial assessment: Who wrote this document? When?
      2. Where was it written?
      3. Who do you think the intended audience was? How do you think this might have influenced the message?
      4. What did the rabbis who wrote this letter do to get arrested?
      5. In their letter, the rabbis say that "We came because we could not stand silently by our brother's blood." This quote is based on Leviticus 19:15-16 which says, "You shall not render an unfair decision: do not favor the poor or show deference to the rich; judge your kinsman fairly. Do not deal basely with your countrymen. Do not stand on the blood of your neighbor." It is part of the Torah portion known as kiddushim, or the holiness code, which is read during the High Holy Days.

        What do you think the biblical quote means? What do you think the rabbis in St. Augustine meant by this quote? Why do you think they chose to use a biblical reference?
      6. What do you think are some of the reasons these rabbis chose to participate in civil rights activities in St. Augustine? What in the letter makes you say that? Which of their reasons were based in Judaism? Which were universal? Which were particular to being a rabbi/Jewish leader?
      7. What part do you think community played in their experience before their arrest and during their time in prison?
      8. What did the rabbis feel they had accomplished by their actions in St. Augustine?
      9. What impact did the rabbis' actions have on them personally? In thinking about the reasons for and impact of activism, how would you rate the ways in which it changes the activist?
      Part II
      1. How do you think these rabbis' experience and/or Jewish values influenced their participation in the Civil Rights Movement? What clues from the letter make you think that?
      2. How would you describe the role that these rabbis played in the Civil Rights Movement?
      3. Do you think this is an appropriate role for a rabbi? Why or why not?
      4. Are there any current political/social issues on which you think rabbis today should take a stand? What kind of role would you want to see them take?

      Sermon by Rabbi James Wax

      James Wax

      Ordained at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in the 1930s, James Wax served as the rabbi of Temple Israel in Memphis, TN, in the 1960s. Rabbi Wax supported racial justice, and during this period was a member of the Memphis Committee on Community Relations which worked towards integration. He also played an important role in resolving the sanitation workers' strike, which dragged on for many months, beginning in February 1968. Rabbi Wax knew Memphis Mayor Henry Loeb, who had at one time been a member of his congregation, and spoke to Loeb alone and with other delegates on several occasions to negotiate an end to the strike. After Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated while in Memphis supporting the sanitation workers' strike, Wax helped to arrange for the secret payment to the state of the funds necessary to pay the salary increases for the sanitation workers. Just days after King's assassination, Rabbi Wax shared his views of King with his congregation in a sermon.

      Rabbi Wax Sermon on Martin Luther King, Jr., April 5, 1968

      Rabbi Wax Sermon, 1 of 4
      Full image
      Rabbi James Wax, "Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr." Sermon delivered at Temple Israel, Memphis, TN on April 5, 1968. Courtesy of the Rabbi, Board of Trustees, and Archivist of Temple Israel, Memphis TN.
      Rabbi Wax Sermon, 2 of 4
      Full image
      Rabbi James Wax, "Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr." Sermon delivered at Temple Israel, Memphis, TN on April 5, 1968. Courtesy of the Rabbi, Board of Trustees, and Archivist of Temple Israel, Memphis TN.
      Rabbi Wax Sermon, 3 of 4
      Full image
      Rabbi James Wax, "Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr." Sermon delivered at Temple Israel, Memphis, TN on April 5, 1968. Courtesy of the Rabbi, Board of Trustees, and Archivist of Temple Israel, Memphis TN.
      Rabbi Wax Sermon, 4of 4
      Full image
      Rabbi James Wax, "Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr." Sermon delivered at Temple Israel, Memphis, TN on April 5, 1968. Courtesy of the Rabbi, Board of Trustees, and Archivist of Temple Israel, Memphis TN.

      Discussion Questions

      Part I
      1. Initial assessment: Who delivered this sermon? When?
      2. How was it communicated? Where was it communicated? How do you think this might have influenced the message?
      3. Who was the intended audience? How do you think that might have influenced the message?
      4. How does Rabbi Wax view Martin Luther King, Jr.? What in his sermon makes you say that?
      5. How are these views similar and/or different from those of other people Wax mentions in his sermon?
      6. What, according to Rabbi Wax, is God's will?
      7. What do you think Rabbi Wax's purpose is in giving this sermon?
      8. Why do you think it might have been harder for Rabbi Wax to give this sermon in Memphis than it would have been for a Northern rabbi to give this sermon?
      Part II
      1. How do you think James Wax's experience and/or Jewish values influence his participation in the Civil Rights Movement? What makes you say that?
      2. How would you describe the role that Rabbi Wax played in the Civil Rights Movement?
      3. Do you think this is an appropriate role for a rabbi? Why or why not?
      4. Are there any current political/social issues on which you think rabbis today should take a stand? What kind of role would you want to see them take?

      [ Back to top ]

      How Does My Identity Inform My Actions?

      Unit 1 , Lesson 2

      Jewish Women's Archive - Living the Legacy

      http://jwa.org/LivingtheLegacy

      How Does My Identity Inform My Actions?

      Document studies: 

      Who's In, Who's Out?

      Directions

      1. Read the first document out loud.
      2. As a group, look back at the document again to see how the characters perceive the situation differently through the lens of belonging and exclusion. Whom do they consider part of their “in” group? (It might be useful to make diagrams or sketches to visually represent the different perspectives in the story.)
      3. Discuss the questions listed after the document.
      4. Read the second document out loud, and repeat steps 2 and 3.

      Any Jews?

      The notion of "the other" has cast long shadows over my life. One morning, when I was about nine or ten, I was sitting at the kitchen table with my mother and my father's mother. Grandma Alice spoke only Yiddish and could not read or write English. Mama was reading aloud from a newspaper account of a plane crash the night before, shaking her head with sadness at the loss of life. "Any Jews killed?" Grandma Alice asked. This was the familiar refrain: "Any Jews?" If there were no Jews, it was a non-event, something of no concern. I was confused. It made no sense to me that a segment of humanity would be excluded from concern because they were not part of our membership group. It was my first awareness of culture as a system of belonging, of insiders and outsiders.


      Baker, Elaine DeLott. "They Sent Us This White Girl." In Deep in Our Hearts: Nine White Women in the Freedom Movement, (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2000), 261.


      Discussion Questions

      1. What criteria does Grandma Alice use to decide who is "in" and who is "out" of her membership groups?
      2. How is the phrase "any Jews?" used by Grandma Alice similar to or different from the contemporary refrain, "is it good for the Jews?"
      3. What might be some positive aspects of seeing the world the way Grandma Alice does? What might be some negative aspects of seeing the world this way?

      Your People

      During her stay in the Hinds County Jail in June 1965, Roberta Galler first encountered the Jackson Jewish community in the form of Rabbi Perry Nussbaum. Nussbaum, who had been quietly supporting civil rights against the wishes of his congregation, came into the cell where Galler and several other Jewish women were jailed. Holding up toothbrushes, soap, and other small necessities, Galler recalls that he said, "Okay, who in here are my people?" Galler stepped forward and said, "Either all of us are your people or none of us are your people."

      Galler's defiant declaration highlights both the self-righteousness and the universalist spirit in which young Jewish activists saw their civil rights activism. She did not know that Nussbaum was going out on a limb to visit civil rights workers in jail, nor could she have known that his decade of efforts addressing civil rights questions would lead to the bombing of his home and synagogue two years later. With little patience for the situation of southern Jewish communities and little desire to be identified as Jews themselves, young Jewish activists in SNCC recoiled from any sign of what they saw as Jewish ethnic particularism. Nevertheless, they had walked into a landscape where Jewishness mattered.


      Debra Schultz, Going South: Jewish Women in the Civil Rights Movement (New York: NYU Press, 2001), 91.


      Discussion Questions

      1. What criteria does Roberta Galler sense that Rabbi Nussbaum is using to decide who are "his people" while he's in Hind County Jail?
      2. How is Rabbi Nussbaum using his idea of membership and belonging to guide his actions in this situation?
      3. Why do you think Rabbi Nussbaum might have been more inclined to help his own group than helping everyone in the cell?
      4. What criteria do you think Roberta Galler uses to define her group in this situation? Why might this be true? What do you think this might say about the way she identifies? How might her identity be shaping her involvement in the Civil Rights Movement?
      5. We know some things about Rabbi Nussbaum that Roberta Galler did not, namely that he was also a supporter of civil rights whose actions had very real and violent consequences for him, his family, and his synagogue. How do you think Rabbi Nussbaum's idea about who are "his people" might have been different in other situations relating to civil rights?
      6. How do Rabbi Nussbaum and Roberta Galler’s understandings of their own identities shape their actions? (Think not only about this incident in the jail, but also more broadly.)

      What I Learned in Alabama About Yarmulkes

      Context

      This is an excerpt from the Rosh Hashanah 1965/5726 sermon by Rabbi William G. Braude of Temple Beth-El, in Providence, Rhode Island. In this sermon, Rabbi Braude explores whether or not to wear a head covering. The practice at Temple Beth-El – like the majority of Reform congregations at the time – was that men did NOT wear a head covering such as a kippah (yarmulke) or hat. Rabbi Braude ended his sermon by putting a yarmulke on his head.

      What I learned in Alabama about Yarmulkes

      …But it was on the highway – on U.S. Route 80 – between Selma and Montgomery, Alabama that the deep significance of the Jew’s wearing his Yarmulke came to me. Some of you may remember that on Wednesday, March 24, 1965, Rabbi Saul Leeman of Cranston and I were among the marchers from Selma to Montgomery. On that day, the two of us, he quite readily and I somewhat reluctantly wore our Yarmulkes. The reason: to protect our heads from sunburn and to identify ourselves as Rabbis. We succeeded on both counts. From all sides, white and black alike, men and women greeted us with, “Shalom, Shalom.” Young Jews, their eyes aglow, came up: “We are glad to see Rabbis with us.” A professor of philosophy from Berkeley who did not look Jewish came up: “It means so much for one of my background to see Rabbis participating in the March!” One white man, a rugged blonde, a Gentile said: “Before you Rabbis are through, you will convert the entire Christian nation.”

      And so, in the midst of this atmosphere of camaraderie Saul Leeman and I marched on. Then Sandy Rosen, a fellow Rabbi from San Mateo, California coming up from behind me, greeted me with the words “Shalom Chaver.” I looked at him. He, too, was wearing a Yarmulke. Know that he was a Reform Rabbi, I asked him: “Do your people wear Yarmulkes?” He replied: “No. But our colleagues who came to Selma throughout their stay there wore Yarmulkes.” And the Negroes – Sandy Rosen went on to tell me – took to the Yarmulkes, began wearing them and calling them freedom caps. Then the Rabbis proceeded to bring in large supplies of Yarmulkes which they distributed to many of those on the freedom march. Thus the one-legged man, a white man, who walked the entire distance from Selma to Montgomery got himself a Yarmulke which he wore from time to time. At the service in Selma on Saturday, March 27, 1965 which followed the killing of Viola Gregg Luizzo, the mother of five children, the Associated Press report stated, that many of those present, white and black alike, wore Yarmulkes. On the other hand the segregationists began calling these head coverings “Yankee Yarmulkes.”

      Here is how my colleague and pupil Maurice Davis put it in a sermon: “We returned to the church, and I noticed that all the Reform Rabbis were wearing yarmulkes. When I questioned this, I was told, ‘It is our answer to the clerical collar.’ Clergymen of every denomination, from Roman Catholicism to Unitarianism were wearing clerical collars to show that they were clergymen. Rabbis of all branches of Judaism were wearing yarmulkes.”

      “I tried to get one, but I could not. I learned later that they set back for a thousand yarmulkes but all the Civil Rights workers wanted to wear them. Negro children, and white marchers were all sporting yarmulkes.”
      “People keep asking me why I decided to go to Alabama. I’m not sure that even now I know the answer. I think I went to Alabama to worship God!”

      To me, one striking aspect of Rabbi Davis’ statement is that when we went to worship God, he found that will’e nill’e he had to wear a Yarmulke…


      Rabbi William Braude, "What I learned in Alabama about Yarmulkes," Rosh Hashana sermon, Septermber 27, 1965, Temple Beth-El, Providence, Rhode Island. Used with permission of Temple Beth-El , Providence, RI.


      [ Back to top ]

      Central Conference of American Rabbis at the March on Washington

      March-on-Washington-Central-Conference-of-American-Rabbis.jpg

      Hillel Gamoran, Slide Collection No. 3487, The Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives, 1963.

      Related content:

      Rabbi Joachim Prinz speech at the March on Washington


      Click "About this clip" to read transcript. Retrieved from http://www.joachimprinz.com/civilrights.htm. Permission to use granted by Jonathan Prinz.

      Related content:

      Rabbi Wax Sermon on Martin Luther King, Jr., April 5, 1968

      RabbiWaxSermon1of4.jpg

      Rabbi James Wax, "Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr." Sermon delivered at Temple Israel, Memphis, TN on April 5, 1968. Courtesy of the Rabbi, Board of Trustees, and Archivist of Temple Israel, Memphis TN.

      Related content:

      RabbiWaxSermon2of4.jpg

      Rabbi James Wax, "Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr." Sermon delivered at Temple Israel, Memphis, TN on April 5, 1968. Courtesy of the Rabbi, Board of Trustees, and Archivist of Temple Israel, Memphis TN.

      Related content:

      RabbiWaxSermon3of4.jpg

      Rabbi James Wax, "Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr." Sermon delivered at Temple Israel, Memphis, TN on April 5, 1968. Courtesy of the Rabbi, Board of Trustees, and Archivist of Temple Israel, Memphis TN.

      Related content:

      RabbiWaxSermon4of4.jpg

      Rabbi James Wax, "Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr." Sermon delivered at Temple Israel, Memphis, TN on April 5, 1968. Courtesy of the Rabbi, Board of Trustees, and Archivist of Temple Israel, Memphis TN.

      Related content:

      Why We Went: A Joint Letter from the Rabbis Arrested in St. Augustine

      Why_We_Went_1of3.jpg

      Click "Full Image" to see transcript."Why We Went: A Joint Letter from the Rabbis Arrested in St. Augustine," June 19, 1964. From the papers of Rabbi Michael Robinson. Permission to use granted by Dr. Eugene Borowitz.

      Related content:

      Why_We_Went_2of3.jpg

      "Why We Went: A Joint Letter from the Rabbis Arrested in St. Augustine," June 19, 1964. From the papers of Rabbi Michael Robinson. Permission to use granted by Dr. Eugene Borowitz.

      Related content:

      Why_We_Went_3of3.jpg

      "Why We Went: A Joint Letter from the Rabbis Arrested in St. Augustine," June 19, 1964. From the papers of Rabbi Michael Robinson. Permission to use granted by Dr. Eugene Borowitz.

      Related content:

      Southern Hospitality Was Not Extended Say R.I. Rabbis Who Marched in Alabama

      Southern_Hospitality_Not_Extended_1of2.jpg

      "Southern Hospitality Was Not Extended Say R.I. Rabbis Who Marched in Alabama," Rhode Island Herald, 2 April, 1965, 1,8. Permission to use granted by The Voice & Herald of Rhode Island.

      Related content:

      Southern_Hospitality_Not_Extended_2of2.jpg

      "Southern Hospitality Was Not Extended Say R.I. Rabbis Who Marched in Alabama," Rhode Island Herald, 2 April, 1965, 1,8. Permission to use granted by The Voice & Herald of Rhode Island.

      Related content:

      Letter from Rabbi Eisendrath to Bernard Goodman, November 13, 1963

      BernardGoodmanHUCFromRabbiEisendrathUAHC19631113_1of2.jpg

      Rabbi Maurice N. Eisendrath to Bernard Goodman, 13 November 1963, Hebrew Union Congregation Official Records, Greenville, Mississippi. Permission for use granted by Richard Dattel.

      Related content:

      BernardGoodmanHUCFromRabbiEisendrathUAHC19631113_2of2.jpg

      Rabbi Maurice N. Eisendrath to Bernard Goodman, 13 November 1963, Hebrew Union Congregation Official Records, Greenville, Mississippi. Permission for use granted by Richard Dattel.

      Related content:

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      How to cite this page

      Jewish Women's Archive. "Rabbis." (Viewed on April 18, 2014) <http://jwa.org/taxonomy/term/8351>.