Our family is spending a few days this week visiting Steve’s mom at her home in Columbus, GA. Rayna is anticipating her 95th birthday in mid-September. A great simcha, of course, but since it will be in the middle of the Holidays, we are here now to celebrate with her a bit in advance. As you may remember, Steve’s dad, Rabbi Alfred L. Goodman, z”l, served as Rabbi of Temple Israel of Columbus for some 33 years, during the 1950’s, ‘60’s, ‘70’s, and early ’80’s. Very deep into the Deep South, Columbus, like the rest of the region, certainly had its problems as the Civil Rights Movement progressed. A small coterie of rabbis throughout the South, Alfred among them, stepped up and became outspoken leaders alongside their Christian colleagues, on the front lines of the struggle.
As I mentioned in last week’s blast, during this entire month, the NAACP is leading the “Journey for Justice,” from Selma to Washington, DC. The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is partnering with the NAACP, as Reform rabbis from all over the country are carrying a Torah scroll from station to station along this route. The “Journey for Justice” will culminate in a giant rally and lobby day in Washington the day after Rosh Hashanah.
But most heavily on our hearts this week is the death of Former Georgia State Senator Julian Bond, one of the shining lights of the Civil Rights Movement. From my earliest consciousness of the movement, Julian Bond’s name was one of those that became synonymous with the struggle for civil rights.
The following is a portion of the bio that appears on the website for the NAACP.
Born in Nashville, Tennessee, Bond's family moved to Pennsylvania when he was five years old when his father, Horace Mann Bond, became the first African American President of Lincoln University (Pennsylvania), his alma mater. Bond attended Morehouse College in Atlanta and won a varsity letter for swimming. He also founded a literary magazine called The Pegasus and served as an intern at Time magazine.
In 1960, Bond was a founding member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and served as communications director from 1961 to 1966. From 1960 to 1963, he led student protests against segregation in public facilities in Georgia.
Bond graduated from Morehouse and helped found the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). He was the organization's president from 1971 to 1979.
Bond was elected to the Georgia House of Representatives in 1965. White members of the House refused to seat him because of his opposition to the Vietnam War. In 1966, the United States Supreme Court ruled that the House had denied Bond his freedom of speech and had to seat him.
From 1965 to 1975, he served in the Georgia House and served six terms in the Georgia Senate from 1975-86.
In 1968, Bond led a challenge delegation from Georgia to the Democratic National Convention in Chicago, and was the first African-American nominated as Vice President of the United States. He withdrew his name from the ballot because he was too young to serve.
Bond ran for the United States House of Representatives, but lost to civil rights leader John Lewis. In the 1980s and ‘90s, Bond taught at several universities, including American, Drexel, Williams, the University of Pennsylvania and Harvard universities and the University of Virginia.
Julian Bond died on Saturday at the age of 75. He will be remembered by all those dedicated to humanitarianism and the cause of equal opportunity and civil rights for all. Zecher Tzaddik Liv’rachah – May the memory of the righteous be for a blessing.
This is a poem for Rosh Chodesh Elul which I read at last Shabbat Evening’s Service. One of our congregants was particularly touched and asked me to send it along in this blast.
Return: A Prayer for Elul
Shared by Trisha Arlin | Poem
Return to Elul.
The sky was dark, and the month began.
A special time of starting over;
A month of kindness and clarity;
Of consciousness and knowledge;
Of bravery and strength.
It is said that the truly evil are already condemned
And the truly good are already blessed.
So for the rest of us
There is Elul.
Return to ourselves.
In Genesis the moon is called, “the lesser light.”
And that’s how I feel tonight,
Less than what I should be.
What was I thinking?
I was afraid, I was hurt, I was anxious…
No excuses, I know what I did,
Maybe it wasn’t so bad
But maybe it was.
How can I make it better?
There is Elul.
Return to the people we wronged.
Use the ritual,
Create a context.
It makes it easier to speak:
I am so sorry.
I was wrong.
I lacked compassion in the moment
But I see things clearly now.
You don’t have to accept my apology,
We can do teshuvah together
If you want.
There is Elul.
Return to each other.
In community we pray
For the kindness to comfort and care;
And the clarity to see what must be done;
For the consciousness to accept the truth;
And the knowledge to get help if needed;
For the bravery to ask for forgiveness;
And the strength to forgive.
Most of all, we pray for all who are in pain or who cause pain.
All this and more because
There is Elul.
Bless the God of Justice, of Mercy and of Redemption that we may return every year,
As old as the darkness, as new as the moon.