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Shabbat Message from Rabbi Aft- Trying to Make Sense of a Challenging Situation

05/01/2015 09:42:37 AM



Dear Friends,



As Sue and I were driving up to the Baltimore Oriole vs. Chicago White Sox baseball game on Monday night, we were wondering if the unrest in Baltimore might spread to Oriole Park and Camden Yards.  When we arrived at the park, we were told that the game had just been postponed and we turned around and returned to Springfield.  

While driving back we reflected on the era in which we grew up and of course one of the names that kept coming up was Martin Luther King.

I read the following piece in the Huffington Post this week, which I think can provide an important perspective on rioting and social unrest in the 60's.  These are the words of Dr. King.


“Now I wanted to say something about the fact that we have lived over these last two or three summers with agony and we have seen our cities going up in flames.  And I would be the first to say that I am still committed to militant, powerful, massive, non-violence as the most potent weapon in grappling with the problem from a direct action point of view.  I’m absolutely convinced that a riot merely intensifies the fears of the white community while relieving the guilt.  And I feel that we must always work with an effective, powerful weapon and method that brings about tangible results.  But it is not enough for me to stand before you tonight and condemn riots.  It would be morally irresponsible for me to do that without, at the same time, condemning the contingent, intolerable conditions that exist in our society.  These conditions are the things that cause individuals to feel that they have no other alternative than to engage in violent rebellions to get attention.  And I must say tonight that a riot is the language of the unheard.  And what is it America has failed to hear?  It has failed to hear that the plight of the Negro poor has worsened over the last twelve or fifteen years.  It has failed to hear that the promises of freedom and justice have not been met.  And it has failed to hear that large segments of white society are more concerned about tranquility and the status quo than about justice and humanity.”


Tonight at services we will continue the discussion about race relations in America.  We will talk about the "unheard" and what that means to us in our world today.

While I was on sabbatical I spoke at a conference on racial justice, which was held at the University of Illinois.  I will share some of that discussion and we will talk about the perceptions we hold of each other.

I hope to see you tonight and please be watching for a summer program about race relations, which we hope to arrange.



Shabbat Shalom,


Rabbi Bruce D. Aft

Congregation Adat Reyim


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