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June 19: The 1964 Civil Rights Act

The 1964 Civil Rights Act was approved by the Senate on this date after enduring a lengthy filibuster led by Southern Democrats. This landmark legislation, as well as the Voting Rights Act of 1965, were drafted in the conference room of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism in Washington, D.C., under the aegis of […]

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May 4: Freedom Rides

On this date, in 1961, the first Freedom Riders — seven African-Americans and six whites — set out in two buses from Washington D.C., headed for New Orleans, to challenge segregationist transportation laws that the Supreme Court had declared unconstitutional. One group was viciously attacked on Mother’s Day by a Ku Klux Klan mob in […]

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May 1: American Jewish World Service

The American Jewish World Service was launched on this date in 1985 by two philanthropists, Larry Phillips (CEO of Phillips-Van Heusen) and Larry Simon, working with a network of rabbis and Jewish communal activists and leaders. AJWS is dedicated to mobilizing Jewish funding and volunteerism to alleviate poverty and political helplessness across the globe by […]

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April 4: Dr. King

The 20th-century prophet Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated on this date in 1968 at age 39. Among white Americans participating in the movement that Dr. King led, Jews played a brave and disproportionate role. More than a third of the young white Northerners who participated in the Freedom Summer of 1964 were Jewish, […]

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They Stood Up

Rosa Parks and Virginia Durr, Heroines of the Civil Rights Movement by Dorothy M. Zellner Several years ago, a friend reported that her son, age 3, was asked to portray Dr. Martin Luther King at a commemoration sponsored by the boy’s daycare center in Sunnyside, Queens. My friend, very pleased by this honor, wondered what, […]

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Reviewing and Renewing the Black-Jewish Alliance

Political Bonds and Mutual Interests by Cheryl Greenberg Once again, Blacks and Jews are united: On November 2nd, they both supported the losing presidential candidate. In fact, Blacks and Jews have been America’s two staunchest Democratic-voting groups for decades. Both seem to recognize that the issues central to their interest — equality, anti-discrimination, support of […]

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Jewish Stars and Pink Triangles

By Lawrence Bush In 1989, five years into my 12-year stint as speechwriter for Rabbi Alexander M. Schindler, then president of the Reform synagogue movement, I had the opportunity to collaborate with him on a sermon in support of people living with AIDS. The sermon was delivered at a ground-breaking service at the Leo Baeck […]

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The Global AIDS Pandemic and Jewish Responsibility

by Ruth W. Messinger AIDS is threatening to be the largest humanitarian crisis our planet has ever faced. As president of American Jewish World Service, I have seen close up the devastating impact this pandemic is having on individuals, communities and entire countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America, where the disease is growing at […]

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African-Americans & Jewish-Americans: A New Agenda for an Old Alliance

by Mayor David N. Dinkins Originally published in the July-August, 1990 issue of Jewish Currents This address was delivered April 3 at the opening of an important photographic exhibit, “Blacks and Jews: The American Experience, 1654—1989” at the Hebrew Union College—Jewish Institute of Religion in New York. The exhibit was sponsored by the American Jewish […]

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