The legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. continues to inspire hope, equality, and justice today. His unwavering commitment to nonviolent civil disobedience played a pivotal role in the American civil rights movement and his teachings on love, understanding, and peaceful resistance remain powerful lessons for generations to come.
I want to share my family's connection to the civil rights movement through our Rabbi, Rabbi Prinz. As a fellow German Jew who emigrated to Newark, NJ, he and my grandfather developed a close bond. Rabbi Prinz's discovery of the injustices in the United States led him to use his voice to speak truth to power. Despite criticism for his support of both the Palestinians and MLK, he became a leader in the civil rights movement as rabbi of Temple B'nai Abraham in Newark, NJ, and later as President of the American Jewish Congress.
My grandfather attended Rabbi Prinz's synagogue and was moved by his electrifying speeches. Despite Rabbi Prinz's controversial views, his values resonated with my family's own and we supported him during a time when his ideas were not widely accepted. He believed in solidarity to eliminate injustices wherever they occurred and participated in organizing the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. As Rabbi Prinz once said, "Bigotry and hatred are not the most urgent problem. The most urgent, the most disgraceful, the most shameful, and the most tragic problem is silence." It is said that those who don't know their history are doomed to repeat mistakes of the past and I find it disheartening to see that we haven't made much progress in eradicating hatred.
I am proud that my family was connected to someone who stood up and spoke out during a time of prejudice and unfair treatment for both Black people and Jews. I feel it is my purpose to also speak up and break the cycle of hate, making my ancestors proud who were victims of the Holocaust. I hope to be brave and strong enough to speak truth to power one day, just like MLK and Rabbi Prinz did.
Thank you for paving the way.