By Francesca Norsen Tate
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The Foundation for Ethnic Understanding, in cooperation with UJA Federation of New York and the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York, has authored a prayer that was read in synagogues across the country on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day Weekend, Saturday, Jan. 19. The prayer recognizes Dr. King's partnership with the American Jewish community in achieving equality for all Americans.
Rabbi Marc Schneier, president of the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding and author of Shared Dreams: Martin Luther King Jr. and the American Jewish Community, said, “this prayer captures the essence of Dr. King and his relationship with the Jewish people. Martin Luther King Jr. is remembered as a tireless advocate both for the State of Israel and for the freedom of Soviet Jewry. Foremost, he was unequivocal in his denunciation of antisemitism.”
The four-paragraph prayer begins using the words of the prophet Micah (from the Hebrew scriptures to “love justice, do mercy, and walk humbly” with God. A portion reads, “Grant us the wisdom to truly understand that all of humanity is created equally in Your image, so that ‘an injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.’ Open our hearts to stand with the oppressed and persecuted around the world…We honor the legacy of a Jewish community that ‘prayed with its feet’ as it walked with Dr. King, an African-American, in pursuit of civil rights. Help us to feel the reassurance of Your presence as we continue forward in pursuit of civil rights and justice for all humankind.”
The prayer was distributed by UJA Federation of New York through national rabbinic organizations including the Central Conference on American Rabbis (CCAR), Rabbinical Assembly (RA), Rabbinical Council of America (RCA), and Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association (RRA) and to the national religious movements: Union of Reform Judaism, United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, the Orthodox Union, and the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, and locally to the New York Board of Rabbis (NYBR).