March for Racial Justice, scheduled for Yom Kippur, seeks ways to include Jews
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March for Racial Justice, scheduled for Yom Kippur, seeks ways to include Jews

NEW YORK (JTA) — The March for Racial Justice, scheduled for Yom Kippur, is looking to adjust its schedule to accommodate Jewish marchers.

The date of the march will not be changed, but related events may be held on that Saturday night or the next day.

In a statement Wednesday, organizers of the civil rights march said that scheduling the event on Yom Kippur, which falls this year on Sept. 30, “was a grave and hurtful oversight on our part. It was unintentional and we are sorry for this pain as well as for the time it has taken for us to respond. Our mistake highlights the need for our communities to form stronger relationships.”

Organizers said they are “working on ways to include the Jewish community,” either after sundown Saturday when Yom Kippur ends, or on the next day. The main march, the statement said, will continue to be held on Sept. 30 to coincide with the anniversary of the 1919 massacre of hundreds of blacks near Elaine, Arkansas.

Organizers said they also are seeking a permit for a “sister march” in New York City on Oct. 1.

Critics of the march’s scheduling, including the actress Mayim Bialik, said many Jews will not be able to take part on what is sometimes described as the holiest day on the Jewish calendar, when Jews fast for 24 hours and attend lengthy synagogue services. Organizers said they regretted the overlap but would not change the date.

In Wednesday’s statement, organizers said they chose Sept. 30 when their first choice was not available, and that they did not realize the day was Yom Kippur.

Organizers said the white supremacist march Saturday in Charlottesville, Virginia, during which one counterprotester was killed, and anti-Semitic and racist chants were heard, motivated them to accommodate Jews who wanted to take part.

“We have learned from our Jewish friends that Yom Kippur is a day of making amends and of asking and receiving forgiveness,” the statement reads. “We hope that our sincere apology will be received with compassion, and that we will build a stronger relationship among all our communities as a result.”