Why I Marched In Selma


Sunday, March 8, which marked 50 years and one day after “Bloody Sunday,” I
was among the 100,000 people in Selma, Ala., who chose to walk in the
footsteps of the righteous (“Still More Bridges To Cross,” March 13). We came to Selma not just to commemorate the
civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery that lead to the Voting Rights
Act but also to recommit to carry on the work, begun those years ago, which
is still unfinished.

We gathered together at Mishkan Israel, Selma’s only synagogue. We
prayed, listened to inspiring speakers, sang songs of strife and of hope, and
then we marched.

I did have some trepidation about this pilgrimage at first. The program I
attended was billed by the organizer as honoring what the Jewish people’s
contributed to the civil rights movement. Fortunately, the scholar and sage, Susannah Heschel, put the day into its proper context. The day, she said, 
was not about what the Jewish people contributed to the civil rights
movement; it was about what the movement contributed to the
Jewish people.

I went to Selma because I am a Jew, because my faith commands it. There is one commandment in the Torah with no time constraints, which requires
action, and applies to everyone: “Justice, justice you shall pursue”
(Deuteronomy, 16:20).

To a lesser observer we marchers appeared to be a diverse group of people, but we were
really all of one race — the human race — and we were all of one faith
— faith in the God of justice.