National Jewish Federations Group Visits Bham, Selma & Montgomery
Last week, civil rights activist and Georgia Congressman John Lewis spent some time in Selma, Alabama with major donors to Jewish Federations of North America.
These major donors, who make up the Prime Minister’s Council, came from all over the country to travel around Birmingham, Selma and Montgomery, learning about the civil rights history that runs so deep in our state.
The Prime Minister’s Council trip was led by Birmingham Jewish community volunteer leaders Jon and Sheryl Kimerling. “It was an honor to host such an impressive group of national leaders,” Sheryl said. “Half of the trip participants had never been to Birmingham and they all had a wonderful experience.”
The Selma Times Journal also highlighted the group’s experience, particularly focusing on the group’s time with Congressman Lewis during which they walked across the historic Edmund Pettus Bridge.
“Outside of personal things like the birth of children, this is one of the great moments of my life to be able to walk across the bridge with Congressman Lewis and the past two days in Birmingham and Montgomery and now Selma,” trip participant Brian Ratner told the Selma Times Journal. “The history and what it means to this country is hard to put into words.”
According to the Selma Times Journal, Susannah Heschel, the daughter of Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, who marched alongside Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1965, was among the visitors from JFNA.
Heschel said she has been to Selma on several occasions, and each time it is a moving experience because of the connection between the Civil Rights Movement and the Jewish community.
“What happened on Bloody Sunday (a pivotal civil rights moment) was horrifying, and it has a Jewish link because the night that happened the television was showing the movie Judgement in Nuremberg about the Holocaust, and then we saw what was happening right here in Selma,” she said to the Selma Times Journal.
According to an email from Jewish Federations of North America, “This trip was a potent reminder that great change can be accomplished when we work together for a common cause. For our Federation Movement that means working to sustain and build our Jewish community. It means providing aid to those among us who are unable to aid themselves. And something more.”
“It means speaking out, against tyranny and injustice wherever it raises its head. Whether we’re calling for civil rights in Alabama. Or to free Soviet Jewry in the former Soviet Union. As Dr. King also said: ‘Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter,'” the email explained.
The Birmingham Jewish Federation is proud of Jon and Sheryl for all that they do for the Jewish community on a national level and for bringing so many important leaders to our wonderful state.