“We Shall Overcome” is the greatest Passover song ever written


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Welcome to My Seder

 

Sedar 2015

My Seder indeed took place last night beginning at 5:30 p.m. Eastern Standard time and 11:30 pm in Pontevedra, Spain

Streaming live video from Pontevedra, Spain jointed by her fiancé  the respectful Javier Blanco had an old-fashioned seder,Amelia had distributed to their dinner guests a Spanish copy of the Hagaddah. My sister Sarah, with whom I have spent a considerable portion of my life celebrating Passover, joined My Seder, explaining her seder experience as guests of Amelia and Javier read from the special book the Hagaddah in Spanish. The word Hagaddah comes from the Hebrew root word that means “to tell.” God commanded us to tell the story of the Exodus from Egypt. There is a psychedelic quality to the seder. The requirement is NOT that we remember freedom from slavery in Egypt.

Rather, the requirement of the SEDER is to relive the experience. No seder fulfills the requirement unless its participants believe then and there (here and there on Skype) that tonight we have become Free.  For me, for my mother, Freedom requires the Seder to relive the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. Those were the days when Rabbit Abraham J. Heschel marched arm-in-arm with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as they crossed together–50 years ago last month–Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama.

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Illuminated Haggadah (14th century)
Illuminated Haggadah (14th century)

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The White House press office describes the scene 50 years ago last month

“Fifty years ago, on March 7, 1965, hundreds of people gathered in Selma, Alabama to march to the capital city of Montgomery. They marched to ensure that African-Americans could exercise their constitutional right to vote — even in the face of a segregationist system that wanted to make it impossible.

“On the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, state troopers and county members violently attacked the marchers, leaving many of them injured and bloodied — and some of them unconscious.

“But the marchers didn’t stop. Two days later, Dr. Martin Luther King led roughly 2,500 people back to the Pettus Bridge before turning the marchers around — obeying a court order that prevented them from making the full march.

“The third march started on March 21, with protection from 1,000 military policemen and 2,000 Army troops. Thousands of people joined along the way to Montgomery, with roughly 25,000 people entering the capital on the final leg of the march. On March 25, the marchers made it to the entrance of the Alabama State Capitol building, with a petition for Gov. George Wallace.

“Only a few months later, Congress passed the Voting Rights Act, which President Lyndon B. Johnson signed into law on August 6, 1965. The Voting Rights Act was designed to eliminate legal barriers at the state and local level that prevented African-Americans from exercising their right to vote under the 15th Amendment — after nearly a century of unconstitutional discrimination.”

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Martin Luther King’s Last Speech: “I’ve Been To The Mountaintop”

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oehry1JC9Rk[/youtube]

Dr. Martin Luther King was shot and killed the day after he delivered this “mountaintop” speech. This is an excerpt from the speech. The entire speech, 45 minutes, was not recorded in video. Rather, the audio complete speech–from You Tube–ends My Seder. Some time when you are in need of spiritual comfort, know that the speech is here below.

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“Our goal should be to live life in radical amazement. ….get up in the morning and look at the world in a way that takes nothing for granted. Everything is phenomenal; everything is incredible; never treat life casually. To be spiritual is to be amazed.”

 — Rabbi Abraham J. Heschel
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Alabama State troopers attack civil-rights demonstrators outside Selma, Alabama, on Bloody Sunday, March 7, 1965
Alabama State troopers attack civil-rights demonstrators outside Selma, Alabama, on Bloody Sunday, March 7, 1965

 

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Rabbi Abraham J. Heschel, Professor of Mystecism and Theology at the Jewish Theological Seminary. marches arm-in-arm with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at the Selma-Montgomery March

Rabbi Abraham J. Heschel, Professor of Mysticism and Theology at the Jewish Theological Seminary. marches arm-in-arm with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at the Selma-Montgomery March.

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[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IQp2KZV4wd4[/youtube]

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“When I was young, I admired clever people. Now that I am old, I admire kind people.”

 — Rabbi Abraham J. Heschel
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[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4xTAh2txiLc[/youtube]

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Wikipedia

Selma to Montgomery marches

The three Selma to Montgomery marches in 1965 were part of the Voting Rights Movement underway in Selma, Alabama. By highlighting racial injustice in the South, they contributed to passage that year of the Voting Rights Act, a landmark federal achievement of the 1960s American Civil Rights Movement. Activists publicized the three protest marches to walk the 54-mile (87 km) highway from Selma to the Alabama state capital of Montgomery as showing the desire of African-American citizens to exercise their constitutional right to vote, in defiance of segregationist repression.

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“It is customary to blame secular science and anti-religious philosophy for the eclipse of religion in modern society. It would be more honest to blame religion for its own defeats. Religion declined not because it was refuted, but because it became irrelevant, dull, oppressive, insipid. When faith is completely replaced by creed, worship by discipline, love by habit; when the crisis of today is ignored because of the splendor of the past; when faith becomes an heirloom rather than a living fountain; when religion speaks only in the name of authority rather than with the voice of compassion–its message becomes meaningless.”

 — Rabbi Abraham J. Heschel
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Southern state legislatures had passed and maintained a series of discriminatory requirements and practices that had disenfranchised most of the millions of African-Americans across the South since the turn of the century. The African-American group known as The Dallas County Voters League (DCVL) launched a voters registration campaign in Selma in 1963. Joined by organizers from the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), they began working that year in a renewed effort to register black voters. Finding resistance by white officials to be intractable, even after the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ended legal segregation, the DCVL invited Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the activists of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) to join them. SCLC brought many prominent civil rights and civic leaders to Selma in January 1965. Local and regional protests began, with 3,000 people arrested by the end of February.

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[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SnaLQNwfejg&feature=youtube_gdata[/youtube]

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On February 26, 1965, activist and deacon Jimmie Lee Jackson died after being mortally shot several days earlier by a state trooper during a peaceful march in nearby Marion, Alabama. To diffuse and refocus the community’s outrage, SCLC Director of Direct Action James Bevel, who was directing SCLC’s Selma Voting Rights Movement, called for a march of dramatic length, from Selma to the state capital of Montgomery.[2][3] Bevel had been working on his Alabama Project for voting rights since late 1963.

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Mundus vult decipi‘—the world wants to be deceived. To live without deception presupposes standards beyond the reach of most people whose existence is largely shaped by compromise, evasion and mutual accommodation. Could they face their weakness, their vanity and selfishness, without a mask?”

 — Rabbi Abraham J. Heschel
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The first march took place on March 7, 1965, organized locally by Bevel, Amelia Boynton, and others. State troopers and county policemen attacked the unarmed marchers with billy clubs and tear gas after they passed over the county line, and the event became known as Bloody Sunday. Law enforcement beat Boynton unconscious, and the media publicized worldwide a picture of her lying wounded on the bridge.

The second march took place March 9. Troopers, police, and marchers confronted each other at the county end of the bridge, but when the troopers stepped aside to let them pass, King led the marchers back to the church. He was obeying a federal injunction while seeking protection from federal court for the march. That night, a white group beat and murdered civil rights activist James Reeb, a Unitarian Universalist minister from Boston, who had come to Selma to march with the second group.  Many other clergy and sympathizers from across the country also gathered for the second march.

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Half a century after the marches:

This past Saturday, the First Family traveled to Selma, Alabama to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the marches from Selma to Montgomery.

Learn about the history of the marches. Listen to the stories of those who marched. And tell us how you’ll honor their legacy and #MarchOn.

If you missed the President’s remarks at Saturday’s event, make sure to watch below:

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gvAIvauhQGQ[/youtube]

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“People of our time are losing the power of celebration. Instead of celebrating we seek to be amused or entertained. Celebration is an active state, an act of expressing reverence or appreciation. To be entertained is a passive state–it is to receive pleasure afforded by an amusing act or a spectacle…. Celebration is a confrontation,giving attention to the transcendent meaning of one’s actions.”

 — Rabbi Abraham J. Heschel
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The violence of the “Bloody Sunday” and of Reeb’s death led to a national outcry and some acts of civil disobedience, targeting both the Alabama state and federal governments. The protesters demanded protection for the Selma marchers and a new federal voting rights law to enable African-Americans to register and vote without harassment. President Lyndon Johnson, whose administration had been working on a voting rights law, held a historic, nationally televised joint session of Congress on March 15 to ask for the bill’s introduction and passage.

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“I have one talent, and that is the capacity to be tremendously surprised, surprised at life, at ideas. This is to me the supreme Hasidic imperative: Don’t be old. Don’t be stale.”

— Rabbi Abraham J. Heschel
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With Governor Wallace refusing to protect the marchers, President Johnson committed to do so. The third march started March 21. Protected by 2,000 soldiers of the U.S. Army, 1,900 members of the Alabama National Guard under Federal command, and many FBI agents and Federal Marshals, the marchers averaged 10 miles (16 km) a day along U.S. Route 80, known in Alabama as the “Jefferson Davis Highway”. The marchers arrived in Montgomery on March 24 and at the Alabama State Capitol on March 25. With thousands having joined the campaign, 25,000 people entered the capital city that day in support of voting rights.

The route is memorialized as the “Selma To Montgomery Voting Rights Trail,” and is designated as a U.S. National Historic Trail.

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[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V3VhgJC2M1Y[/youtube]

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Lyrics to “We Shall Overcome”

We shall overcome

We shall overcome, some day

Oh, deep in my heart
I do believe
We shall overcome, some day

We’ll walk hand in hand
We’ll walk hand in hand
We’ll walk hand in hand, some day

Oh, deep in my heart
I do believe
We shall overcome, some day

We shall live in peace
We shall live in peace
We shall live in peace, some day

Oh, deep in my heart
I do believe
We shall overcome, some day

We shall all be free
We shall all be free
We shall all be free, some day

Oh, deep in my heart
I do believe
We shall overcome, some day

We are not afraid
We are not afraid
We are not afraid, TODAY

Oh, deep in my heart
I do believe
We shall overcome, some day

We shall overcome
We shall overcome
We shall overcome, some day

Oh, deep in my heart
I do believe
We shall overcome, some day

Written by: Arthur Hamilton,  Zilphia Horton,  and Pete Seeger

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 Diana Ross

 [youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CnzmPrsLXn8[/youtube]

Mahalia Jackson

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TmR1YvfIGng[/youtube]

President Lyndon Johnson says the words: “We shall overcome.”

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bKDVNSpsBZE[/youtube]

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“Never once in my life did I ask God for success or wisdom or power or fame. I asked for wonder, and he gave it to me.”
― Abraham Joshua Heschel
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The most fitting conclusion to this celebration of the Passover Seder is to listen to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s last speech in its 43 minute entirety.
[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ixfwGLxRJU8&feature=youtu.be[/youtube]
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 Good night and good luck,
–Joel

My Seder copyright © 2015 by Joel Solkoff. All rights reserved.

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Copyright Kathy Forer 2015. All rights reserved.

Copyright © Kathy Forer 2015. All rights reserved.  

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