Martin Luther King Day, 2009


Today is Martin Luther King Day and I am thinking how amazing it is that tomorrow, a President with an African father and a white mother from the American Midwest will be sworn into office. I have to admit that I am a little bummed out to be in the office this week and not with all of my friends in Washington DC, busy going to concerts and inauguration balls. At least one of the three Jewish-sponsored inaugural balls still has undistributed tickets.

Through the presidential campaign and afterward, I kept seeing the same unattributed phrase, “Rosa sat so Martin could walk, Martin walked so Obama could run, Obama ran so our children can fly!” This beautiful phrase reminded me of the photos of Dr. King walking in the famous Selma to Montgomery March Among the white allies who walked with Dr. King was the major Jewish American theologian Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel. (In the photo at right, Rabbi Heschel is the white-bearded man one person over from Dr. King.) Heschel wrote of the march,  “I felt my legs were praying.”Selma March with Heschel

Rabbi Heschel’s daughter, Professor Susannah Heschel, movingly recalled the reasons her father marched for civil rights. Like many American Jews, I’m proud of my community’s participation in the civil rights movement.

So tomorrow I am going to celebrate our new president and how many communities working together helped the United States elect a President with such a diverse heritage.

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