Updated: Jan 14
"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." ~ Dr. Martin Luther King
Last week we began the Book of Shemot (Exodus), which tells of our people’s enslavement under Pharaoh, and our ultimate redemption, with Moses as leader. It’s an epic tale whose narrative explores the relationship between oppression and liberation.
Every year at Passover, we retell this very story. And, in each generation, every individual is obligated to feel as though he or she personally came out of Egypt. Why? When we remember the story and step into the experience , we understand our obligation to care for all who are oppressed and marginalized.
The Jewish calendar has a sacred rhythm which is often punctuated by ritualized readings at certain times of the year. For example, we read from the Book of Esther on Purim (the Megillah) and from the Book of Lamentations on Tisha B’Av.
This coming Monday is MLK Jr. day. While not a Jewish holiday, MLK Jr. day highlights our obligation as Jews to Tikkun Olam, to repair the world. It reminds us of our own story of oppression and liberation. We recall Dr. Martin Luther’s King’s famous words, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
Following this tradition of reading a sacred text to match the pulse of the calendar, many Jewish communities are reading Dr. King’s Letter From A Birmingham Jail on Monday, January 18th, MLK Jr. Day. This will be a united experience with each group, organization, community reading at the same time, 1pm (Eastern).
Congregation Beth Israel will be joining this collective call to action. At 10am Chico time, we will gather on Zoom to recite this letter. We will also broadcast out on Facebook Live. A group of people will share in the reading. Everyone else present will be witness to the experience. If you would like to be one of the readers, please contact me directly, firstname.lastname@example.org.
May Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream be realized, in our days.