I’ll admit that it has been a while since I have thought of Martin Luther King Day.
In Israel, Dr. King is known and highly respected but while there is (at least one) street named in his honor, there is obviously, no national holiday.
As part of my work for the Israel Forever Foundation, I had the opportunity to revisit the legacy of Dr. King and consider why it is important to us in Israel as well.
The answer is simple really – mutual values and Inspiration from Zion.
This is what I wrote for the Israel Forever audience:
From ancient Egypt to Selma Alabama…
Rabbi Heschel wrote, “When I marched in Selma my feet were praying.”
Many have forgotten that the American Civil Rights Movement was inspired by the Jewish Civil Rights Movement – Zionism.
Many have forgotten that Jews stood shoulder to shoulder with men and women who dreamt that one day their children would be judged by the content of their character, not the color of their skin.
Many have forgotten. Possibly, deliberately attempting to erase the Jewish role in the Civil Rights Movement.
We have not forgotten.
We remember what it was like to be slaves in Egypt.
We know what it is like to live at the mercy of others.
We know what it is like to be persecuted for being born who we are.
We know that not to speak is to speak. That is why Jews spoke then. That is why we continue to speak today.
On Martin Luther King Day we honor all the men, women and children who spoke when it was terrifying to do so. The people whose names we know and those who we will never know.
People of all races and backgrounds came together to say: “Let my people go” because they knew that freedom was the only way.
They dreamed of a world they had never seen and their bravery, faith and hard work made it real. This is the underlying principle of Zionism and how one movement could provide inspiration for the other.