Compiled by the NFTY Racial Justice Committee
Jews and People of Color: A Holy Partnership
In August of 1963, Jews marched on Washington in solidarity with the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King Jr. and 250,000 others. This peaceful demonstration, inspired by King's dream, brought together people of different races, genders and religions. Jews knew then that racial justice is a Jewish issue. 54 years later, Rabbi Jonah Pesner stood under a statue of Dr. King and addressed the demonstrators of the 1000 Minister's March, declaring, "We may look different, we may pray differently, we may face different forms of injustice, we may live in different places, but we are neighbors. And Jewish tradition commands us to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. To love your neighbor in this world is show up for one another." Today, we look to Dr. King's memory as inspiration his legacy as motivation to show up. We stand united as a Jewish people in fighting for racial justice.
Our own tradition teaches us not to wrong or harm those who do not look like us or sound like us, for we were once the stranger in the land of Egypt. As it is written in Pirkei Avot, "Treat no one lightly and think nothing is useless, for everyone has a moment and everything has a place."
This Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Get Involved:
- NFTY launched our racial justice campaign at NFTY Convention in 2017. Since then, we have created a Racial Justice Campaign Ambassador training, which supports NFTYites who want to get involved with racial justice work in their communities and a Racial Justice Committee that guides our North American-level efforts on the issue. Get involved >
- The Religious Action Center's Criminal Justice Reform Campaign provides a framework for individuals to take action on the issue of criminal justice through their reflect, relate, reform model. Learn more >
- Mitzvah Corps offers a 13-day program in the American South that focuses on Civil Rights and disaster relief. Learn more & register for summer 2018 >