On this Martin Luther King Jr. Day, we are relieved that the people inside Congregation Beth Israel emerged unharmed, and we send prayers of healing to the individuals, their families, the people of Colleyville, and the entire Jewish community.
As faith leaders came together to offer support and condemn the attack, we were reminded that solidarity is the only way forward. We reject those who may use this moment to fuel division or incite violence against Muslims. As antisemitic and anti-Muslim sentiments and violence continue to rise in the United States, we must work together across faith traditions, races, ethnicities and geography to build a world where all of us can live and worship in peace.
In Chicago’s Marquette Park lies the Living Memorial to King and the Chicago Freedom Movement — the only memorial of its kind in the state. The effort to build and celebrate this important space on the 50th anniversary of Dr. King’s march into Marquette Park was led by a diverse coalition of organizations, chiefly the Inner-City Muslim Action Network (IMAN) with support from the Jewish Council on Urban Affairs (JCUA). In addition to the images of bigotry and violence Dr. King and marchers faced in August 1966 while protesting Chicago’s housing segregation are images of diverse community leaders that either marched with Dr. King that day or spent their lives fighting for the same values.
Among the faith leaders recognized in the memorial is JCUA’s late beloved founder, Rabbi Robert J. Marx. Included are words from the famous letter Marx penned to Jewish leaders, in which he spoke of never wanting to be on “the wrong side of the street.” Marx was assigned by those leaders to be a neutral observer on the day of King’s march, but pushed back explaining that “neutrality” in the face of bigotry, hatred, and evil has no place for those aspiring to prophetic values of justice and mercy for all.
Today, we recommit to the vision of a multiracial, multi-faith democracy espoused by Dr. King, who said, “I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality.” Let it be so.
The Jewish Council on Urban Affairs (JCUA)
Inner-City Muslim Action Network (IMAN)