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Susannah Heschel on “Selma”

January 18, 2015

Here are a few links relating Susannah Heschel’s reaction to the absence of her father, Abraham Heschel, from the movie “Selma.” She wrote,

The 50th anniversary of the 1965 march at Selma is being commemorated this year with the release of the film “Selma.” Regrettably, the film represents the march as many see it today, only as an act of political protest.

But for my father Abraham Joshua Heschel and for many participants, the march was both an act of political protest and a profoundly religious moment: an extraordinary gathering of nuns, priests, rabbis, black and white, a range of political views, from all over the United States.

Perhaps more an act of celebration of the success of the civil rights movement than of political protest, Selma affirmed that the movement had won the conscience of America.

President Lyndon Johnson had just declared, “We Shall Overcome,” and congressional passage of the Voting Rights Act would come quickly. Thanks to the religious beliefs and political convictions of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., coalitions had been built, religious differences overcome and visions articulated that meshed religious and political goals.

My father felt that the prophetic tradition of Judaism had come alive at Selma. He said that King told him it was the greatest day in his life, and my father said that he was reminded at Selma of walking with Hasidic rebbes in Europe. Such was the spiritual atmosphere of the day.

Read more: http://www.jta.org/2015/01/18/news-opinion/opinion/op-ed-what-selma-meant-to-the-jews#ixzz3PEZ6OpeW

Other links and interviews:

Fresh Controversy …
Following in my father’s footsteps
Their Feet Were Praying

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. January 19, 2015 2:10 pm

    Similarly, there’s this from the grandson of Rabbi Dr. Leon Jick:

    http://www.haaretz.com/jewish-world/the-jewish-thinker/.premium-1.637752

    And yet, there’s another perspective from Alanna Kleinman:

    As Jews, we are certainly inspired by Jewish veterans of the Civil Rights movement. That said, the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s, and the story of Selma specifically, was not “our” story. The story of Selma was about fighting to achieve justice for African-Americans, living in an unjust society.

    http://www.myjewishlearning.com/blog/southern-and-jewish/2015/01/08/selma-its-not-about-the-jews-and-thats-okay/

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