Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel marching with Martin Luther King, Jr.
Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel marching with other civil rights leaders from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, on March 21, 1965. From far left: John Lewis, an unidentified nun, Ralph Abernathy, Martin Luther King, Jr., Ralph Bunche, Abraham Joshua Heschel, Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth.

HRA18 Facilitates Education, Healing, and Reconciliation

The Holocaust Remembrance Association (HRA18) was established by descendants of Jewish Holocaust survivors along with Christian colleagues to sensitize hearts to the issues of the Holocaust and facilitate education, healing, and reconciliation. Holocaust survivors and their families came to the United States with nothing. They welcomed the opportunity to start a new life in a country with a just government and a Constitution that protected their personal freedoms. They benefited from the free enterprise system and the chance to reap the rewards of a disciplined work ethic. In the interest of safeguarding freedom for all people in their new homeland, many of the Jewish community became legal representatives who helped uphold others suffering persecution or discrimination, specifically during the Civil Rights Movement. 

The vision of HRA18 is to see the world inspired to stand in solidarity against persecution, prejudice, and indifference, and its core purpose is to create UPSTANDERS – individuals who will stand against antisemitism as well as persecution and prejudice in all forms.  Therefore, we affirm our intention to defend our nation’s First Amendment rights for ALL PEOPLE to exercise freedom of speech,

 freedom of the press, and PEACEFULLY assemble, as well as to petition the government for redress of grievances.  Stereotyping, discrimination, and prejudice are NOT in keeping with our goal of fostering education that brings healing and reconciliation.  The three principal projects of HRA18 (March of Remembrance, the Holocaust Garden of Hope, and the HRA18 university-based scholarship programs) are ways to participate in this goal. 

STAY TUNED for the details of a special prayer initiative scheduled for the ninth of Av (July 29-30).  The ninth of Av is the date of the destruction of the first two temples in Jerusalem and the date on which the Jewish people suffered injustice and persecution over the course of several centuries.   The HRA18 acknowledges that ALL people are made in G-d’s image and we all live by the breath of G-d.  This year on the ninth of Av, we will humble ourselves in repentance for our personal trespasses and will pray together for the restoration of our nation (… if My people, who bear My Name, will humble themselves, pray, seek My face and turn from their evil ways, I will hear from heaven, forgive their sin and heal their land.”  II Chronicles 7:14, CJB). 

Having recently fled the horrors of the Holocaust, many Jewish immigrants who worked as educators in schools in the South, in the 1940s and 1950s, were horrified by the systemic racism they witnessed against the African-American population. Because of their unwillingness to stay silent about the injustices they saw, by the time the Civil Rights Movement reached its peak in the 1960s, Jews were marching hand in hand with their African American neighbors. In fact, of the non-Blacks involved in the Civil Rights Movement, fully half were Jewish at a time when Jews constituted a mere two percent of the American population. The alliance between all communities who unite under the banner of human dignity and justice is more crucial today than ever. I applaud the work of the Holocaust Remembrance Association, which is working tirelessly for a better future, based on indispensable lessons learned from our past.

Calev Myers Founder and Chairman, ARISE Alliance to Reinforce Israel’s Security and Economy www.ariseforisrael.com