Co-Authored with Rabbis Judy Schindler and Ken Carr
The shofar was sounded, summoning us to join America's Journey for Justice sponsored by the NAACP -- a 40-day 860-mile march from Selma, Alabama to Washington DC. After a summer of racial tensions, church burnings in the South and murders in Charleston, close to 200 rabbis responded from all over the nation, each committed to march a one day leg of the journey.
We were privileged to be among the ten rabbis who joined today's march. We would march side by side with our congregants and with our partners from the NAACP both lay and professional. At the front was the American flag, the Torah (which each of us took turns carrying) and today the president of the NAACP Cornell William Brooks. We were escorted on both sides by police as we journeyed towards justice through rural South Carolina.
We encountered various reactions along our way. The march drew some opposition including a group of people gathered around the gas station to boo and catcall us. One man flew a confederate flag from his truck and drove back-and-forth following us through the day. However, for the most part those views were overshadowed by the smiles, support, waves, welcomes and warmth with which we were greeted.
One shop owner, Cody Weaver, was so distressed by the Confederate flags that were brought out just for us that she rushed ahead to her supermarket to chop up some salad and cook some hot dogs so that we would all be well fed. She nourished not only our bodies but our spirits.
As we shared meals and miles, we strengthened our bonds and our commitment to our common cause. We listened to each other's struggles and shared our stories. Now we return to our respective cities inspired and determined to bring the journey for justice home.
Hi there! I am the senior rabbi at Temple Beth Ami in Rockville, Maryland, where I have served since 2016.
(c) copyright 2018 by Rabbi Gary Pokras