Newsletter Articles

Rabbi and Rebbetzin’s Corner February 2023

Rabbi and Rebbetzin’s Corner February 2023

By Eric Carlson on February 1, 2023

Shalom Mishpocha,

        February is a quite month for us, comprised of the biblical months of Shevat and Adar. Sunday, February 5th at sunset through Monday February 6th at sunset is Tu BiShvat! Tu BiShvat is a Rabbinical Jewish holiday occurring on the 15th day of the Hebrew month of Shevat. It is also called Rosh HaShanah La’Ilanot, literally “New Year of the Trees”. The day is celebrated in modern Israel as an ecological awareness day, and trees are planted in celebration. This day is akin to our Arbor Day celebrated in April!

February is Black History month:

“The segregationists and racists make no fine distinction between the Negro and the Jew”

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Why is this geographical area (Jamestown, VA), the birthplace of America so Important?  When we spirit map and go back to our nations beginning on May 14th 1607 at Jamestown Island we see that our nation was founded upon the biblical covenants of God’s Kingdom. We also see a complex, symbiotic relationship develop between the various cultures that clashed, melted, mixed, and developed over the course of Americas History. The Indigenous People who called this land their home! English colonists who came here claiming this to be a new world that now belonged to them and black slaves that were brought here against their will. Centuries have passed and wars have been fought to end the curse of slavery and establish justice. There is a biblical secret encapsulated within this complex, symbiotic relationships forged over our history that confounds those who seek to divide, oppress, and hate.  It is the power of unity. 

Psalms 133.  A song of ascents. By David: Oh, how good, how pleasant it is for brothers to live together in harmony. 2 It is like fragrant oil on the head that runs down over the beard, over the beard of Aharon, and flows down on the collar of his robes. 3 It is like the dew of Hermon that settles on the mountains of Tziyon. For it was there that ADONAI ordained the blessing of everlasting life.

The enemy does everything with his power to develop division through men and their teachings of racism and bigotry. History records the first Slaves in America arriving at Old Point Comfort in 1619.  Brought by Spanish Traders who had suffered damage to their ships in a great storm and low on supplies, they traded several slave women for food and supplies at Old Point Comfort in 1619.  History also records the first freed slave occurring at the same spot in what was to become known as Fort Monroe in 1861 commanded by General Butler.

In the modern bid for freedom, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was one of the predominate leaders.  But I want you to see a common thread that weaves through this fight, Adonai and Yeshua.

Born January 15, 1929, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a Baptist minister, political activist and perhaps the most famous leader of the civil right movement.  In 1955, Dr. King led the Montgomery Bus Boycott that started when Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat in compliance with Jim Crow laws.

Dr. King also organized and led marches for the right to vote, desegregation, and labor rights in addition to basic civil rights. The passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 are attributed, in part, to the works of Dr. King.

Dr. King was fundamental in founding of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in 1957.  The SCLC is a group that used the moral authority and organizational capacity of black churches to conduct non-violent protests on behalf of civil rights. The Southern Leadership Conference established an Executive Board of Directors, and elected officers, including Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as President, Dr. Ralph David Abernathy as Financial Secretary-Treasurer, Rev. C. K. Steele of Tallahassee, Florida as Vice President, Rev. T. J. Jemison of Baton Rouge, Louisiana as Secretary, and Attorney I. M. Augustine of New Orleans, Louisiana as General Counsel.

At its first convention in Montgomery in August 1957, the Southern Leadership Conference adopted their current name, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Basic decisions made by the founders at these early meeting included the adoption of nonviolent mass action as the cornerstone of political strategy, the affiliation of local community organizations with SCLC across the South, and a determination to make the SCLC movement open to all, regardless of race, religion, or background.

SCLC is a now a nationwide organization made up of chapters and affiliates with programs that affect the lives of all Americans across this nation. Its sphere of influence has broadened to a global scale regarding human rights that transcends national boundaries.

Let’s look at the organizations past and present Presidents:

  • Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: 1957 to 1968
  • Rev. Ralph D. Abernathy: 1968 to 1977
  • Rev. Joseph E. Lowery: 1977 to 1997
  • Mr. Martin L. King, III: 1997 to 2004
  • Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth: February 2004 to November 2004
  • Rev. Dr. Charles Steele, Jr.: November 2004 to Present

I want you to see the relationship here with the SCLC and a majority of other civil rights organizations! Most of those active in the Civil Rights movements were Pastors and Believers!  Their kingdom, biblical knowledge and understanding led them to know that Jim Crow and segregation laws were not according to God’s will, word, or design. 

According to the Rev. Glenn Plummer, 82 percent of black Americans are Christians who belong to a church.  Black Americans consider their churches to be the core of their communities and the fount of their identity. The church is a place where the word “Israel” is heard over and over, and a place where black men and women feel a connection to the Bible and the Jewish People who share a similar background.  Unity is the key!

Ezekiel 11:19 – and I will give them unity of heart. “I will put a new spirit among you.” I will remove from their bodies the hearts of stone and give them hearts of flesh;

In 1964 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize and in 1965 the American Jewish Committee presented him with the American Liberties Medallion. Dr. King was assassinated in 1968 and was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Why did the American Jewish Committee present Dr. King with the American Liberties Medallion?  Because there was and is a Shared Empathy between the Jewish and Black communities.

This is a quote from the PBS series, Swastika to Jim Crow:

Since the time of slavery, Blacks have in some ways identified with the Jewish experience. They compared their situation in the American South to that of the Jews in Egypt, as expressed in Black spirituals such as “Go Down, Moses.” The longing for their own exodus inspired the popularity of “Zion” in the names of many Black churches. Black nationalists used the Zionist movement as a model for their own Back-to-Africa movement.

Over the years Jews have also expressed empathy with the plight of Blacks. In the early 1900s, Jewish newspapers drew parallels between the Black movement out of the South and the Jews’ escape from Egypt, pointing out that both Blacks and Jews lived in ghettos, and calling anti-Black riots in the South “pogroms”. Stressing the similarities rather than the differences between the Jewish and Black experience in America, Jewish leaders emphasized the idea that both groups would benefit the more America moved toward a society of merit, free of religious, ethnic and racial restrictions. From the beginning of the Civil Rights Movement, Blacks and Jews marched arm-in-arm.

In 1909, W.E.B. Dubois, Julius Rosenthal, Lillian Wald, Rabbi Emil G. Hirsch, Stephen Wise and Henry Malkewitz formed the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). One year later other prominent Jewish and Black leaders created the Urban League. Julius Rosenwald and Booker T. Washington worked together in 1912 to improve the educational system for Blacks in the South.

Thus, in the 1930s and ’40s when Jewish refugee professors arrived at Southern Black Colleges, there was a history of overt empathy between Blacks and Jews, and the possibility of truly effective collaboration. Professor Ernst Borinski organized dinners at which Blacks and Whites would have to sit next to each other – a simple yet revolutionary act. Black students empathized with the cruelty these scholars had endured in Europe and trusted them more than other Whites. In fact, often Black students – as well as members of the Southern White community – saw these refugees as “some kind of colored folk.”

The unique relationship that developed between these teachers and their students was in some ways a microcosm of what was beginning to happen in other parts of the United States. The American Jewish Committee, the American Jewish Congress, and the Anti-Defamation League were central to the campaign against racial prejudice. Jews made substantial financial contributions to many civil rights organizations, including the NAACP, the Urban League, the Congress of Racial Equality, and the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee. About 50 percent of the civil rights attorneys in the South during the 1960s were Jews, as were over 50 percent of the Whites who went to Mississippi in 1964 to challenge Jim Crow Laws.

Whoever saves one life, it is as if he saved the entire would

Mishna Sanhedrin 4:5

God reveals the infinite value of Human Life in that he originally created only one-the Patriarchal Father of every one of us; Adam! Medical science announced in 2005 that upon completely mapping the human Chromosome chain they had discovered that we have all descended from one person!  Had Adam been killed, all of humanity would have perished, and conversely, if his life was threatened and he was saved; all of humanity would be saved! 

It is therefore incumbent upon each and every one of us as children of God to actively involve ourselves in fashioning a world in which each and every person, regardless of skin color, race, or culture is treated as if he or she has the infinite value of life like that of Adam! Each and every life is the most precious gift from God. We are all created in His image. Let us live, worship, walk, and stand together as one, Jew and Gentile, Black and White, First Nations, Asian, and Hispanic. As Dr King stated:

“We may have all come on different ships, but we’re in the same boat now.”