Rabbis march for civil rights on the Journey for Justice

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Photo from twitter: Rabbi David Levy, left, with his son Josh and NAACP president Cornell Brooks.

The Journey for Justice marchers entered North Carolina on Saturday. One of the heartening stories unfolding about the walk from Selma Alabama to Washington DC is the participation of rabbis, and members of their congregations from across the country.

Wanted to share some of the news items and tweets I found about what is taking place.

Follow me below the fold.

Praying With Our Feet: America’s Journey for Justice [Updated]

Beginning in August, the Reform Movement will join the NAACP on America’s Journey for Justice—an historic 860-mile march from Selma, Alabama, to Washington, D.C. The Religious Action Center is organizing hundreds of rabbis in partnership with the NAACP for the Journey, which will mobilize activists and advance a focused advocacy agenda that protects the right of every American to a fair criminal justice system, uncorrupted and unfettered access to the ballot box, sustainable jobs with a living wage, and equitable public education. The Journey for Justice partnership between the Reform Movement and the NAACP reflects the long history of collaboration between our communities.

Our Movement, through the work of the Religious Action Center and the Rabbis Organizing Rabbis initiative, will be vocal leaders: more than 100 rabbis will coordinate walking the distance of the journey. Congregations will come together not just to walk, but to educate and mobilize participants in the many rally days to be held in multiple cities along the way. These marching rabbis will carry the sacred scroll of our Torah, carrying thus the Jewish values that compel us to stand with our neighbors and to fight for racial justice and equality.

Local Reform rabbis hit the road for justice
Civil rights marchers join route from Selma to Washington, DC

Some 17 rabbis from New Jersey have joined the NAACP’s Journey for Justice, an 860-mile march from Selma, Ala., to Washington, DC, commemorating the 50th anniversary of the passage of the Voting Rights Act and setting the agenda for civil rights moving forward.

A Torah scroll donated by Temple Sinai in Chicago has accompanied the march for the entire route.

Over 150 rabbis signed up to participate on legs of the march, which began Aug. 1 and will conclude in Washington with a rally on Sept. 16. Participants walk approximately 20 miles each day.

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Binghamton rabbi walks in NAACP’s ‘Journey for Justice’

Binghamton, NY (WBNG Binghamton) A rabbi from Binghamton arrived home on Thursday, after marching for freedom at the NAACP’s ‘Journey for Justice.’
Barbara Goldman-Wartell, a rabbi at the Temple Concord in Binghamton, spent a day marching in the NAACP’s ‘Journey for Justice.’ “I decided when the call went out for rabbis to do this– to commit to a day of marching and the two days of travel– that I wanted to follow in the legacy,” said Goldman-Wartell…”I didn’t just want to talk the talk,” she added. “I want to be able to walk the walk and learn from people and their experiences, and then be able to come back to our community and talk with more people here. I want to see what we can do to improve things here.”

The Jewish community got involved with the movement by having rabbis walk, while being a steward of the Torah.”We’re carrying it during the march. Other people were carrying it and opening it up to teach and show what the text was– and the text reflects how we are to treat everyone, with respect and dignity,” said Goldman-Wartell.
Anyone that was willing could help the rabbi carry the Torah. “It was hot; it was humid. So, that part was very physically grueling,” she explained.

Thursday was the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act. The ‘Journey to Justice’ wants to protect uncorrupted access to the ballot box. “If we really believe we’re a democracy then we need to help everyone to make informed, educated decisions about their voting– empower them to be able to vote and help people to vote, and to do it in a thoughtful way,” said Goldman-Wartell.

Rabbi Mary Zamore wrote, True Strength at America’s Journey for Justice

I know what strength is. Reflecting on marching in the NAACP’s America’s Journey for Justice, I witnessed true strength. Now back home in New Jersey returning from LaGrange, Georgia, my husband and I had joined the Central Conference of American Rabbis’ delegation of over 150 rabbis who are also representing the Union for Reform Judaism’s Religious Action Center. We are taking turns supporting this 40-day march to Washington, DC. I sit here nursing sore muscles, while marveling that we actually walked 15 miles, all in one day, in August, in the South. And we also carried a 20-pound Torah, recalling the iconic photograph taken in Arlington National Cemetery of Rabbi Maurice Eisendrath, President of then-Union of American Hebrew Congregations, now the Union for Reform Judaism, as he held a Torah scroll and marched next to the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King. Yes, I feel strong for the physical feat, as I feel strong for engaging in action after I have felt so powerless watching tragic injustice after tragic injustice. I felt strong when I walked by Confederate flags, a pro-Confederate flag billboard, a Confederate monument, and scowling faces uttering rude comments. Yet, I felt proud that the majority of spectators, representing all races, were supportive or nicely inquisitive. They honked, waved, and leaned out of cars to ask about our unexpected parade, protected by the local police and state troopers. I smiled as mothers brought out their young African-American sons to see us walk by. Our leaders shouted that we were walking for them, so that they could get an education, stay out of jail, and have hope for justice.

This is what a fusion movement looks like!

Thank you, to all of the people who are marching for the rest of us.

You can help provide food, water, security, and medical supplies for the marchers by chipping in $5.00.



  1. These stories brought a smile to my face – I am always elated to see diverse groups coming together for justice.

    • The yearning for justice should be a part of our basic humanity and embraced by everyone. Sadly, it has been mischaracterized as zero-sum: justice for one group somehow taking something away from another group.

      Justice is simply justice:

      … the upholding of what is just, especially fair treatment

      Fair treatment. I hope we can get closer to that ideal with all the attention being given to this issue.

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