Temple Sha'arey Shalom welcomed rabbis David Saperstein and Israel S. (Sy) Dresner.
At Friday night services on March 8, Temple Sha'arey Shalom welcomed rabbis David Saperstein and Israel S. (Sy) Dresner. Rabbi Saperstein was the featured speaker. His topic was: "The Jewish contribution to the fight for civil rights in America: a lecture in honor of Rabbi Sy Dresner." Rabbi Saperstein's appearance was to honor Rabbi Dresner on the occasion of his 90th birthday. His appearance was arranged by Larry Lerner.
Rabbi Saperstein has been designated by Newsweek Magazine as the most influential rabbi in America and by the Washington Post as the "quintessential religious lobbyist on Capitol Hill." From 2015 to 2017, he served as the United States Ambassador-At-Large for International Religious Freedom, the country's chief diplomat on religious freedom issues.
Rabbi Israel S. (Sy) Dresner was Temple Sha'arey Shalom's first full-time rabbi. He was one of the most active Jewish religious leaders in America in the civil rights movement in the 1960s. He was once known as the Most Arrested Rabbi in America and continues to be known as the Most Jailed Rabbi in America. As a result of Rabbi Dresner's close relationship with the late Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Dr. King spoke at Temple Sha'arey Shalom twice, in 1963 and 1966.
Rabbi Saperstein began by tracing the prominent role that many Jews have had in the struggle for civil rights in the American South. He began the history in 1910 and his narrative continued until the current day. He explained that Jews participated in the struggle in one of four ways: as individuals, as government officials, as part of civil rights groups and as members of Jewish organizations. He told the audience about the essential role that Rabbi Dresner played in these struggles and the role model he became to so many.
Rabbi Saperstein concluded by speaking about current civil rights issues. He proudly stated that the old coalition of religious groups, labor groups, and civil rights groups have stood up against hate speech and attacks and urged the audience never to lose sight of what has been achieved, even as we continue to work for freedom and equality for all.