Sunday, June 17, 2018

7 Reasons Why Einstein Should be Considered One of the Prophets

We are pleased to share the following op-ed by Adas Emuno president, Lance Strate, which was published on March 9th in the Jewish Standard.  The title it was published under was, Seven Reasons Why Albert Einstein is a Prophet, and here it is:



The number 139 is not one we are likely to pay attention to, so this anniversary may not get a great deal of attention. We tend to sit up and take notice when the anniversary is a multiple of 100, or 50, or 10, or even 5.


At the very least, we have a psychological bent toward even numbers, and 139 is decidedly odd. But if Einstein were still with us, he might point out that 139 is more than odd; that it is, in fact, a prime number, which makes it quite significant in its own right. He also no doubt would point to the arbitrary nature of anniversaries, and of calendars for that matter. Einstein’s date of birth on the Hebrew calendar was the 19th of Adar in the year 5639. This year, Adar 19 corresponded to March 6, last year it was March 17, next year is a leap year so it will be February 24 for Adar 1, and March 26 for Adar 2.

I suspect that the differences between the solar calendar of secular society and the lunar calendar of Jewish tradition had some influence on Einstein’s thinking. After all, when we say, for example, that Chanukah is coming late in a given year, it is just as true to say that Christmas and New Year’s are early. The experience of living with two so very different calendars could not help but point to the relativity of time.


And as we remember Einstein, we do so, along with the rest of the world, for his contributions to science, as the recipient of the 1921 Nobel Prize in physics, and the person named in 1999 as Time magazine’s Person of the Century. More than anyone else, Einstein was the person responsible for the paradigm shift in science that replaced Newton’s mechanistic view of the universe with a relativistic understanding of space and time.


And we also remember him as an especially noteworthy member of the Jewish people, one of our many gifts to the world, a prime example of what we sometimes refer to as yiddishe kop, intelligence born out of a tradition of literacy and learning, one in which teachers and sages are seen as heroic. And we may also recall that as a Jew, Einstein was forced to flee Nazi Germany as a refugee, and that he was a supporter of the Zionist movement and the State of Israel.


 






We do not remember Einstein in a religious context, however; he was not a rabbi or talmudic scholar or theologian. I want to suggest, however, that we should remember him as a prophet. Admittedly, in our tradition we consider the age of the prophets to have ended long ago, but we cannot rule out the possibility of modern prophets altogether. And while we would tend to be suspicious of anyone claiming to be a prophet today, Einstein never made any such claim, so he cannot be rejected as a false prophet.

But I do think a case can be made, and I hope you will consider the possibility as I put forth seven reasons for naming Albert Einstein as a modern-day prophet.







1. Einstein’s name has become synonymous with genius. We typically say that a given individual “is” a genius, but everyone who truly fits the description will more accurately refer to “a stroke of genius” in the sense of something coming from outside of themselves. The word “genius” originates from ancient Rome, and refers to a guiding spirit or deity, a supernatural source, like a guardian angel. (Prophets are the recipients of divine revelation, some form of communication, or we may call it inspiration, which literally means, “to breathe into,” which is how God brings Adam to life in the Book of Genesis.)






2. As a teenager, Einstein imagined himself chasing after a beam of light, which led to his understanding that light cannot be slowed or stopped, that the speed of light is constant, and that it is time, instead, that must vary. This thought experiment was the foundation that led to his special theory of relativity. Other thought experiments followed, notably the difference in what we  would observe when standing on a train vs. standing on a platform as bolts of lightning strike the train. (Prophets are known to receive revelation via visions, as in Jacob’s ladder, Joseph’s dreams, the chariot of fire that appeared to Elijah, and Ezekiel’s wheel within a wheel.)






 



3. One of Einstein’s most significant achievements was determining the nature of light as consisting of quanta, aka photons, and that light has a dual nature, as both waves and particles. Clearly, he had a unique relationship to the phenomenon of light. (Prophets are closely associated with light and enlightenment, Genesis famously says that light was the first of God’s creations, Moses has a halo when he descends from Mount Sinai after speaking to God face-to- face, a direct encounter with the divine countenance that we pray may shine upon us.)













4. Einstein gave us a new way of understanding the universe, of space and time as a single phenomenon, spacetime. (Prophets teach us about the nature of Creation to better understand the Creator, and our place in the world.)




 

5. Einstein invoked the philosophy of the Enlightenment founder Baruch Spinoza in explaining his own view of a pantheistic God. That is a view that traditionally has been seen as heretical, but is consistent with some approaches to Kabbalah, God as the Ein Sof, and certainly is acceptable within Reform Judaism. Above all, it is a view consistent with science; as Einstein famously remarked, “science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.” His resistance to the uncertainty principle of quantum theory was famously expressed in the quote, “God does not play dice with the universe,” asserts that Creation is governed by laws that are rational and ultimately discernible, as well as based on an underlying monotheism, as God would have no one to play dice with. (Prophets often have been critics of established religious authority, in favor of a direct encounter with God via nature.)






6. Einstein spoke out for social justice. He did so on behalf of his own people, in opposition to Nazi Germany, and in favor of Zionism and the State of Israel, but also as a strong critic of racism and supporter of the civil rights movement in the United States. He also was quite critical of capitalism, arguing on behalf of socialism and advocating for a democratic world government and pacifism after the conclusion of World War II. (Social justice is one of the primary themes of the Prophets section of the Tanach.)





 




7. Einstein warned President Roosevelt of the danger of Nazi research into the development of the atomic bomb, leading to the Manhattan Project. He later became an outspoken critic of nuclear weapons. His warnings largely have fallen on deaf ears, at least as far as governments are concerned. In 1947, the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists introduced the image of the Doomsday Clock, setting it to seven minutes before midnight. On January 25 of this year, the minute hand was moved up to two minutes before midnight, the closest it has ever been, mainly because of North Korea and our president’s threatening remarks, and not taking into account Putin’s recent statements about Russian nuclear missile capability, and his animated image of the bombardment of Florida. (The biblical prophets issued warnings about the destruction of Israel and Judea, and the name Jeremiah has become synonymous with pronouncements of doom.)




 





Einstein’s predictions in the realm of physics continue to be supported by astronomical observation and experimental evidence. Perhaps his predictions about society and politics ought to be taken seriously as well?

Why bother arguing for Einstein as a prophet?



Because American culture always has had a strain of anti-intellectualism, one that includes resistance to many aspects of science, notably Darwinian evolution.

Because climate change is at least as great a threat as nuclear war, and is being met with denial, dismissal, or disinterest from significant portions of the population, and all too many in leadership positions.

Because facts and logic are under assault by religious fundamentalists, cynical political opportunists, and corporate executives with eyes only for short term profits.

As Rabbi Barry L. Schwartz makes clear in his recently published book, Paths of the Prophets: The Ethics-Driven Life, our prophetic tradition is of vital importance, one that always has and always will be relevant for us.







 

Naming Albert Einstein a prophet should not detract from this tradition, but rather enhance it, by adding a dimension that we need now more than ever: the truth that ethics cannot be divorced from an understanding of the world, of reality, in all its complexity, and glory.


Friday, June 15, 2018

A TRIBUTE TO OUR PRESIDENT

from the pages of Kadima, the newsletter of Congregation Adas Emuno:





From the desk of …                    
 Rabbi Barry Schwartz
    






A TRIBUTE TO OUR PRESIDENT
 

…to the president of our Congregation, that is





As Lance Strate steps down from the helm, our thanks are due.

I will leave it to future historians to assess his legacy, but allow me to point out that Lance:

  • Served three terms (six years) as our president
  • He did so while maintaining a demanding academic career
  • He did so while meeting demanding family responsibilities
  • He gave witty weekly greetings and announcements
  • He wrote wise and wonderful bimonthly bulletin columns
  • He enhanced our community profile with articles in the Jewish Standard
  • He ran our blog spot
  • He coordinated our poetry garden meetings
  • He wrote four Purim spiels
  • He brought many an intriguing speaker (and a musical ensemble) to our Congregation
  • He read Torah each Rosh Hashanah
  • He offered a passionate High Holy day appeal

With all due deference to Sir (and later Saint) Thomas More, Lance was our “man for all seasons”. One did not have to agree with all of his views or methods to respect his dedication and learning. How many other congregations have a president who rolled up his sleeves to do all the committee and board work that is required, while writing blogs, columns, poems, spiels and appeals (not to mention several books in his own field of media ecology)?

I am very fortunate to have worked with Lance for the entirety of his term, and look forward to benefiting from his continued involvement as an “elder statesman” as we near (as Lance was fond of reminding us) our “sesquicentennial” (otherwise referred to as 150th anniversary) just three years from now.

Our heartfelt thanks must also go out to Barbara, Ben and Sarah for allowing Lance to dedicate such time and effort to our congregation.

And to Lance we say, hazak v’amatz—be strong, and may you go from strength to strength.









Thursday, June 14, 2018

Let's Meet Up!

 From the pages of Kadima, the newsletter of Congregation Adas Emuno:



A Message From Our President


Dr. Lance Strate








Let's Meet Up!



It's an annual event, a ritual, a tradition. It only comes once a year, just once, so why miss it? It's important too, that is, if you think that Congregation Adas Emuno is important, if you think that Reform Judaism is important, if you think that being Jewish is important. It's easy too. Just come. Show up. Listen. And if you want, share your thoughts and feelings, and express your opinions.

I know it's a hard sell. Not just for us, but for congregations everywhere. As the song goes, "I know it's late, I know you're weary, I know your plans don't include me." But how about giving it a try, because regarding our shul, "still here we are." And if you haven't guessed by now, what I'm referring to is our annual congregational meeting, which will take place on Thursday, June 28th, at 7:00 PM.

I'm making a special effort to ask you to come this year, because this year's meeting will be an especially important one. This is my last meeting as president, after six years, and that means that this year we will be electing a new president at the annual meeting. I think that is going to be pretty exciting. And we will also be electing our other officers, our Vice-President, Treasurer, Financial Secretary, and Recording Secretary.

This year we will also be voting on amendments to our by-laws, which include a major change to our classifications of membership, and their concomitant privileges. A more detailed explanation of the proposed changes will be provided in a mailing, along with the slate of candidates for our Board of Trustees. And yes, forms for voting by proxy. If you must. We do need you to vote, our by-laws require it, so voting by proxy is better than not voting at all. But we’d much rather have you come and vote in person.

Our annual congregational meeting is also an opportunity to hear reports from our officers and committee chairs, as well as Rabbi Schwartz and Cantor Horowitz. And it's an opportunity to review our finances, and vote on our budget for the coming fiscal year. If you have any questions or concerns about our religious school tuition and membership dues, this is the time to raise them. And this is the way to be informed. This too will be especially important this year because the proposed changes to the by-laws will open up new possibilities for membership categories and (forgive me for using this terminology) "dues paying units". Let's discuss!

And we'll have something to nosh on too. Come for the refreshments, if for nothing else. And come and learn about the business and organization of our congregation. And most of all, come to be something more than a congregant. Come to be a citizen of Adas Emuno. Participate in our democratic and egalitarian community.

Let's meet up! I hope to see you there!

Friday, May 4, 2018

Youth Group News May 2018

From the pages of Kadima, the Newsletter of Congregation Adas Emuno:


Youth Group News from
Youth Group Advisor
Samantha Rosenbloom:


Our April event was a great success at the Escape Room. Our team escaped the room with over 22 minutes left, breaking the record by 2 minutes!

Our last event for the school year will be on May 6, when we will be doing a favorite activity from last year… a backwards scavenger hunt in the social hall with lunch and snacks.


samantharosenbloom at gmail.com

Thursday, May 3, 2018

End of School Year Religious School News

From the pages of Kadima, the Newsletter of Congregation Adas Emuno:

Religious School News 

     from

Cantor Sandy Horowitz

Religious School Director


In this often-worrisome world, the light of our small school shines ever brightly. Our children get to “be Jewish” and “do Jewish” together in an environment of acceptance and belonging; and as another year comes to a close, I am so proud of our religious school community.

For families and teachers alike, religious school is only one of many commitments that make demands on our time and energy. I’ve watched students arrive in the sanctuary on Sunday mornings looking tired, perhaps not yet fully awake. Fast-forward three hours and they’re energized, talking and laughing as they head out to resume the rest of their lives. They have been learning with their minds and their voices and their creativity. They have been singing and praying. They have donated tzedakah for the benefit of others. They have helped each other when help was needed. They have come up with ideas the rest of us hadn’t thought of. They have been striving to understand and to learn. They have been continually interacting, and wondering, and questioning. All of this is part of developing a Jewish identity, of becoming a mensch, of ensuring a future for our Jewish tradition.

Here’s the thing: the ongoing existence of our religious school depends on continuing as well as new enrollment. We need all of you to help us spread the word! If you know of families with children who might be curious about joining our “being Jewish/doing Jewish” Sundays, please reach out, and encourage them to contact me at adasschool at gmail.com. We are especially looking to re-kindle our K-1 class, as we welcome students of all ages through seventh grade to our religious school.

Thank you’s:

To the parents for all the ways you have volunteered this year–as “parent in charge”–helping with school-wide holiday celebrations, class pot-luck dinners and more. Gratitude abounds especially to the school committee for your leadership and support and incredible hard work.

To each of our amazing teachers for your commitment and creativity. And to the madrichim, our teenage teacher assistants, for your willingness to help with anything that’s needed, and doing it well.

Special thanks to Rabbi Schwartz for his inspired Confirmation class teaching, as they wrap up a year of justice-based learning. To Sabina Albirt and Samantha Rosenbloom who directed this year of socializing and social action with our Youth Group. To Kerri Klein and Jody Pugach who envisioned and implemented the new Mommy/Daddy‘n Me program, led by Reina Stern.

And may I simply add–gratitude to the One, to the very nature of Possibility, and Hope.

Our hearts are full and our spirit is strong! Have a great summer. Cantor Horowitz

Please make a note of these upcoming dates in May and June for our students & families!

Confirmation Class: May 6, 13, 17 (rehearsal)

Friday, May 18: 7:30 PM–Confirmation Service
Sunday, May 20: Last day of school
Saturday, May 26: Bar/Bat Mitzvah of Aaron and Hannah Jacobowitz
Saturday, June 16: Bat Mitzvah of Abigail Boyd

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Rabbi Schwartz on Israel at 70 and the Path to Peace

As we prepare to celebrate Yom Ha'Atzmaut, the Israeli Independence Day, and this year, the 70th anniversary of the founding of the State of Israel, we are please to share with you this op-ed from the Jewish Standard by our Rabbi Schwartz, published on Friday, April 13th, and entitled, Israel at 70: The Path to Peace, According to Isaiah:


The prophet Isaiah famously offered the world a compelling vision of peace:


And they shall beat their swords into plowshares
And their spears into pruning hooks:
Nation shall not take up
Sword against nation;
They shall never again know war….
The wolf and the lamb shall graze together,
And the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
(Isaiah 2:4, 11:6, 7)


Isaiah continually sought to remind his beleaguered people not to lose faith. The mission statement of the Jewish people to be a “light to the nations” (Isa. 42:6) had not expired. Nor has it today, and the message of hope of this ancient prophet remains the path forward in our fearful and violent world.

Admittedly, Isaiah’s vision might seem overly optimistic, perhaps even naïve. After all, are we any closer now to having “the wolf and the lamb … graze together” than we were thousands of years ago? The path to peace is as troubled in modern Israel as it was in ancient Israel. Since the state’s founding, the nation has fought five major wars, numerous battles, and countless uprisings.

And yet peace may not be as illusive or elusive as we might think. Sometimes it comes from the most unlikely places.

In November 1977, Egyptian President Anwar el-Sadat shocked the world by announcing “I am ready to go to the end of the world to get a settlement. I am even ready to go to Israel, to the Knesset, and to speak to all the members of the Israeli parliament there and negotiate with them over a peace settlement.” Sadat predicted that the Israelis would be stunned by his offer, and they were.

But to his and all of Israel’s credit, the newly elected Prime Minister Menachem Begin, known for his right-wing, hardline political views, welcomed the man who only four years earlier had launched the bloodiest war in Israel’s history.


I was living in Jerusalem that year, and I will never forget the euphoria of the moment. When the peace negotiations floundered, President Jimmy Carter brought Begin and Sadat to Camp David, and on March 26, 1979 a peace agreement was forged that has lasted for the past 40 years. Begin, who, along with Carter and Sadat, later was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, shared his own vision of peace in his address at the signing of the accords on the White House lawn:
The ancient Jewish people gave the world the vision of eternal peace, of universal disarmament, of abolishing the teaching and learning of war. Despite the tragedies and disappointments of the past, we must never forsake that vision, that human dream, that unshakable faith. Peace is the beauty of life. It is sunshine. It is the smallest of a child, the love of a mother, the joy of a father, the togetherness of a family. It is the advancement of man, the victory of a just cause, the triumph of truth. Peace is all of these and more, and more. Now is the time for all of us to show civil courage in order to proclaim to our peoples, and to others: no more war, no more bloodshed, no more bereavement—peace unto you. Shalom, Salaam—forever.

Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Jordan’s King Hussein signed a similar treaty in 1994. It, too, has survived the test of time.

Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres, along with Yasir Arafat of the Palestinian Liberation Organization, signed a peace agreement the same year, for which they also were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. That agreement, however, has not fared as well; Israelis and the Palestinians have yet to find the path to peace.

On the 70th anniversary of the State of Israel, let us be thankful for what peace we have achieved against unimaginable odds, and let us rededicate ourselves to realizing Isaiah’s grand vision. I imagine Isaiah saying:


All my long life, my people and my country have known only violence and bloodshed. I tremble knowing there is more…. Yet woe is the one who thinks the children of the covenant are forsaken. A time of peace will come, a time of harmony among men. Even the beasts of the field shall know the tranquility of the Lord. After the flood … the sun … and the rainbow.

Isaiah refused to be a pessimist about peace. Enemies can become allies. Out of darkness can come light. The path forward is somewhere to be found, and it is up to us to find it.



Saturday, April 14, 2018

Faith Leaders on Martin Luther King Jr.'s Religious Legacy

This past April 4th marks the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., and the religious legacy of the civil rights leader was the subject of an article published on April 2nd in the Deseret News, which identifies itself as, "first news organization and the longest continuously-operating business in the state of Utah," and is owned by the Mormon Church. What does this have to do with Congregation Adas Emuno of Bergen County, New Jersey, you may ask? The answer is clear enough: Rabbi Barry L. Schwartz, our spiritual leader.

The article, entitled, Faith leaders Reflect on Martin Luther King Jr.'s Religious Legacy, and written by Kelsey Dallas, begins with the pastor of a Baptist Church in Salt Lake City:

The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. is a silent participant in every meeting held in Calvary Baptist Church's conference room. He stares down at those gathered from three of the room's four walls.

The Rev. France Davis, Calvary's longtime pastor, chose this repetitive decor, in part, to honor the Rev. King's role in his life. His ministry career, which spans more than four decades, grew out of his experiences fighting for a better world alongside the Rev. King.

"That's what I've been doing all my life: trying to change laws, to make sure all people are treated equally," the Rev. Davis said.

But the portraits and pictures of the pastor and civil rights leader in the conference room don't just acknowledge the past. They remind church members to dream big dreams for the future, presenting the Rev. King as a symbol of what's possible when faith is put into action.

"He's an example of how to bring about positive change," the Rev. Davis said.

It's not just religious Americans who see the Rev. King this way. Fifty years after his assassination on April 4, 1968, he's hailed as an American hero, held up as someone whom all political activists should emulate.

The Rev. King's broad appeal sometimes troubles the faith leaders who knew him and continue to draw inspiration from him. They see his quotes used to support secular political goals or hear his voice during a truck commercial and worry Americans are forgetting the deep faith that anchored his activism.

This is where Rabbi Schwartz is first mentioned:

"It's legitimate to quote him in the most general of ways, but I don't think we should forget that he was an example of religious faith at its best," said Rabbi Barry Schwartz, author of Path of Prophets: The Ethics-Driven Life, which was published on March 1.

A nice plug for our rabbi's new book!


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The article now returns to Reverend Davis:

The Rev. King brought the Bible alive for participants in the civil rights movement, never ceasing to be a pastor even as he took on other roles, the Rev. Davis said.

"He was trying to get people to put feet to their beliefs, to make their beliefs practical in terms of the way they went about their daily lives," he said.

The Rev. Davis first heard about the Rev. King's work when he was 15 or 16. He knew Christians were called to serve their neighbors, but his energy was lacking.

"I understood that to be the need, but I didn't feel empowered to do it," said the Rev. Davis, who grew up in rural Georgia.

The Rev. King's impassioned speeches brought about a change of heart. The Rev. Davis began to see his belief in God as a reason to take action, not just to pray and sit in church on Sunday.

"They were inspirational in every way. They caused those who heard them, me included, to want to act," the Rev. Davis said.

At this point, the article moves into a new topic, the social gospel, which parallels our own emphasis on social justice and tikkun olam:

The Rev. King wasn't preaching something new. He was continuing the work of others who'd emphasized the social gospel, or the belief that people of faith should try to build a more just society, not just save people's souls, said Clayborne Carson, founding director of the Martin Luther King Jr. Research and Education Institute at Stanford University.

"The social gospel really had its roots in the United States … in the late 19th and early 20th century," he said.

Members of the early social gospel movement sought to protect workers during the rapid industrialization of the U.S. They fought for better working conditions and fair pay, turning to the Bible for spiritual nourishment and the motivation to act.

The Rev. King carried the spirit of this activism into the civil rights movement, presenting the fight for racial equality as a deeply spiritual pursuit. He faced pushback for this approach, including from within the National Baptist Convention, which his grandfather helped found, Carson said.

"The elected leader of the National Baptist Convention opposed King and felt that the role of the pastor is to try to achieve salvation for members of the congregation and that the church shouldn't really be focused on social issues," he said.

And now, the article brings Rabbi Schwartz back into the conversation, and Congregation Adas Emuno with him:

However, many others, including Jews and other non-Christians, were receptive to his message. The Rev. King energized old teachings, inspiring believers like the Rev. Davis to live out their faith in new ways.

For some Jewish leaders, this meant proclaiming God's calls for justice all the way to jail, said Rabbi Schwartz, who leads Congregation Adas Emuno in Leonia, New Jersey. His own rabbi was one of 16 arrested in St. Augustine, Florida, in 1964 after joining the Rev. King there to rally for racial equality.

"There was a history of activism" in many religious traditions, he said. "But King was the singular figure who could galvanize their social-justice work."

And speaking of the relationship of rabbis to Dr. King, it is not surprising to see the name of Heschel come up:

The Rev. King drew on the Old and New Testaments in his sermons and public addresses, which helped him unite Jews and Christians, said Susannah Heschel, a professor of Jewish Studies at Dartmouth College.

"If you look at his major speeches, he quotes (the prophet) Amos more often than Jesus," she said.

He learned this approach in the black churches of his childhood, she added. African-Americans took comfort in and felt empowered by the Old Testament stories of prophets seeking justice and the Israelites escaping slavery in Egypt.

Heschel's father, Rabbi Abraham Heschel, also influenced the Rev. King's biblical engagement. The Rev. King carried a copy of Rabbi Heschel's book, The Prophets, in his pocket during marches, and it gave him strength to bring a prophetic voice to racial conflict.

"The prophets remind us of the moral state of a people: Few are guilty, but all are responsible," Rabbi Heschel wrote. "To a person endowed with prophetic sight, everyone else appears blind."

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The article now returns to Reverend Davis and a Christian emphasis:

The Rev. King wed the prophets' radical acts of service with Jesus Christ's teachings in the New Testament, the Rev. Davis said.

"His message was clearly one about love based on New Testament theology and teachings, but his examples of showing love were from the Old Testament," he said. "He was masterful in weaving the two."

But this mastery often goes unnoticed in contemporary celebrations of the Rev. King, the Rev. Davis added. People are content to applaud his charisma, rather than understand the theological and historical claims anchoring his speeches.

"We gravitate toward the rhythm and the sound as opposed to the message being communicated," he said.

For example, most Americans are familiar with the Rev. King's dreams in his "I have a dream" speech from the March on Washington. He dreams that his children will be judged for their characters, not the color of their skin. He dreams that white children and black children will one day be able to join hands in Alabama.

Fewer people can recall earlier parts of the speech, when the Rev. King recounted unfulfilled promises made to black Americans when the country was founded and assured his followers that "unearned suffering is redemptive."

"With 'I have a dream,' everybody knows the last part of that speech, but earlier is where the meat is," the Rev. Davis said.

And now back to Rabbi Schwartz one more time:

To truly understand the Rev. King's revolutionary work, you have to grasp how central the Bible was to his activism, Rabbi Schwartz said.

"He was motivated by general ideas of justice, but, at the same time, he was coming from a Judeo-Christian perspective," he said.

Rabbi Schwartz is followed by a testimony from Susannah Heschel:

Heschel was active in the Jewish community throughout her childhood, attending Hebrew school classes and learning to interpret the Bible. Like the Rev. Davis, she knew what she was supposed to be doing, but she wasn't particularly excited to be doing it.

“I didn’t like Hebrew school. I found the way the Bible was taught to us to be very dull," she said.

The Rev. King's friendship with her father changed everything. He brought the words of the biblical prophets alive, showing Heschel the value of learning them.

“King changed my life and gave me a love of the Hebrew Bible and a love of the prophets," she said, crediting the Rev. King with inspiring her to become a professor of religion.

And the article gives Reverend Davis the last word:

The Rev. Davis offered similar praise, explaining that he's modeled his ministry after the Rev. King's work. Each week in his sermon at Calvary Baptist, he urges his congregation to go out into the world and improve it. He preaches on the importance of serving others and tries to lead by example, promoting policies like fair housing and Medicaid expansion.

"I'm one of his disciples in that sense," he said.

When the Rev. Davis learned of the Rev. King's assassination, he knew there were plenty of people like himself to continue proclaiming the Rev. King's prophetic message. However, he worried about the loss of a man who encapsulated the entire struggle for civil rights. The movement would persist in pieces, rather than a unified whole.

"I was concerned that it was piecemeal—one person talking about this and one person talking about that," the Rev. Davis said.

Reflecting on the state of faith-based activism today, the Rev. Davis said he's come to appreciate this piecemeal approach. He likes that some houses of worship specialize in feeding the hungry while others expertly lobby legislators for fairer policies.

The Rev. King's legacy is alive in many places at once, he said.

"When (this activism) was done by one person, it was localized to a particular area. … With a number of different people, it can be in several places," he said.

The Rev. Davis wants visitors to know that Calvary Baptist is one of those places, so he put a small model of the Rev. King's Washington, D.C., memorial on the church's reception desk. Arms crossed, the miniature Rev. King stares sternly out at new arrivals from under a large green plant.

"With Dr. King, you knew you were in the presence of greatness," the Rev. Davis said.

It is certainly an honor to have our rabbi, and our congregation, included in an interfaith article on so important a topic, published all the way out in Salt Lake City, Utah!