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Their Impact Continues

01/03/2022 09:17:42 AM


Rabbi Ezray

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.  Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.  (Martin Luther King, Jr. Wall Street Journal, November 13, 1962)

The religious conscience cannot help but be moved by the heartless cruelties and gross injustice which have been perpetrated against our fellow citizens. To stand up and be counted at such a time is in keeping with the very essence of our Jewish teachings: ‘You shall not stand idly by the blood of your neighbor.’” (Rabbi David Teitelbaum, 1964)

Dr. King and Rabbi Teitelbaum’s voices and actions continue to inspire us to the courage we need to address injustice. 

I am grateful that our community comes together to honor Dr. King each year, by acts of service. It honors the legacy of both Dr. King and Rabbi Teitelbaum.  You will see in this Voice that we will gather from 9:00 – 11:00 on MLK Day (Monday January 17) at CBJ where we will put together kits for homeless families. In 1963, Dr. King said: “The curse of poverty has no justification in our age…The time has come for us to civilize ourselves by the total, direct and immediate abolition of poverty.” Sadly, poverty continues these many decades after his speech.  Dr. King’s words remind us to continue to do all we can to address this painful reality which has worsened as the pandemic continues. The kits we will prepare on this day of service are a small act reflecting our ongoing commitments. 

A piece of CBJ history, is the pride we take that our beloved Rabbi Emeritus, David Teitelbaum, joined Dr. King marching in Selma. Rabbi Teitelbaum correctly understood that Selma could be a critical turning point in the ongoing struggle for civil rights, and despite the dangers (and in fact he was arrested) he followed his voice of conscience. In his autobiography, Rabbi Teitelbaum reflects that while the march in Selma was a highlight of his life, he knew much work remained. That fight is now in our hands; with strides having been made and still so much more to do. Memorializing Rabbi Teitelbaum and Dr. King reminds us to continue to strive to, “Let justice well up as waters, and righteousness as a might stream.” (Amos 5:24)

On Sunday February 6, we will have the annual David and Robin Teitelbaum Lecture at 3:00 pm. In addition to inspiring activism around racial justice and other issues, Rabbi Teitelbaum taught us the mitzvah of zachor – remember. This will be wonderful opportunity to screen the documentary made about the Teitelbaum family trip to their ancestral roots in Poland. Rabbi Teitelbaum discovered that his grandparents, Ozer and Leah Teitelbaum of Wielopole, Poland, had been murdered by the Nazis on June 30, 1942, and he and his family traveled there to observe the 70th anniversary of their death. David and Robin’s son Josh, who will be with us on February 6 for the screening of the documentary did comprehensive research about the Jews of Wielopole and the massacre of the Jewish community. Rabbi Teitelbaum writes about the tears that welled up as he stood at the mass grave site of the grandparents he never knew saying Kaddish.  He shared Josh’s words, “Ozer and Leah! We are back! Your descendants are here. The Nazis and their helpers tried to wipe out the Jewish people. But we are here. The people of Israel live! Israel endures forever! The Nazis and their helpers could not put an end to your people, and not to your family.” 

The family put earth and a rock from Israel on the grave site, everyone sang Hatikvah and David and Robin’s son Adam sounded the shofar, and sounded the shofar in an experience David described as, “The most chilling note I have ever heard and felt from a shofar. I interpreted the sound as a wailing, wailing, sound that echoed our feelings. And when Adam prepared to sound the shofar again, what came out was a long, strong note which for me was a note of hope for a better tomorrow.”

Let the lives of Dr. King and Rabbi Teitelbaum serve as a shofar to lift up pain, remind us of what needs to be done, and hold on to hope.

Sat, May 21 2022 20 Iyyar 5782