August 29, 2023

As you may have seen over the weekend, if you were not engrossed watching El Segundo win the Little League World Series or at the movie theater yesterday in celebration of National Cinema Day, Monday marked the 60th Anniversary of the historic March on Washington that was culminated by Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s iconic "I Have a Dream" speech. This important moment was remembered on Saturday as the march was recreated. People went up to Washington and stood before the Lincoln Memorial once again to hear speakers talk about the growth that has taken place during the last 60 years and how much further we have to go to realize Dr. King's message and dream.

As I was thinking about this moment in time these last few days, a song I have listened to many times popped into my head. Here are the lyrics that open the song:

Oh, let us turn our thoughts today to Martin Luther King
And recognize that there are ties between us - All men and women living on the Earth
Ties of hope and love, Sister and brotherhood

That we are bound together in our desire to see the world 
Become a place in which our children can grow free and strong.
We are bound together by the task that stands before us
And the road that lies ahead. We are bound, and we are bound.

The song, written by James Taylor, is called Shed a Little Light. One of this song's most powerful interpretations was a video by the Maccabeats and Naturally 7. These images convey not just the power of the lyrics but also embody the song's message.

We are in the midst of the Hebrew month of Elul. A custom that marks these last few weeks of the year, before the start of the new year, is the blowing of the shofar each day. Our tradition teaches us that we are to listen and feel the blast of the shofar each day of Elul in order to be awakened and more aware. During this time of the year, we are told to reflect on how we were as a person in the past year, look critically at ourselves and our actions, and seek forgiveness for not living up to our truest capabilities.

I wish there were a HUGE shofar that could be blasted all across our country to wake people up so that they could understand and fully comprehend the impact their actions and beliefs have on other people. I genuinely believe that hate is taught, and since we are interconnected, it is part of our obligation to try and teach a new lesson of acceptance and understanding. And each of us must continue to do that in our daily actions and interactions.

The lessons and messages Dr. King delivered on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial 60 years ago are still possible. As Theodore Herzl famously said, Im Tirzu, Ein Zo Agadah (If you will it, it is no dream.) It is incumbent on all of us. Let us continue to be a people to continue to dream and act on those dreams so that we can help fulfill our collective aspirations.


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