Since 1986, Americans have celebrated Martin Luther King Jr. Day, honoring one of America's most revered civic leaders.
The Jewish Theological Seminary stood together in mourning upon learning of the death of Dr. King. Two prominent individuals at JTS spoke about the impact Dr. King had on the JTS community and the world at large.
Seymour Siegel, former JTS professor of Ethics and Rabbinic Thought, spoke at a memorial for Dr. King at JTS on April 5, 1968. Read his speech here.
On April 7, 1968, Louis Finkelstein, chancellor of JTS from 1940–1972, spoke on NBC television, mourning the loss of Dr. King. This powerful text can be viewed here.
"Heschel was professor of Jewish Ethics and Mysticism at The Rabbinical School of The Jewish Theological Seminary from 1946 to 1972. Once he became involved in the civil rights movement, Heschel was a potent force among the JTS student body and the American people; that is when he began to be known on the American scene and speak for the Jewish world." — Rabbi Joel Roth
Chancellor Arnold Eisen discusses Dr. Heschel's thoughts and legacy in a compelling and thought-provoking interview with host Krista Tippett on Speaking of Faith, originally aired June 5, 2008, on American Public Media.
"The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy." — Dr. King
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. links arms with other civil rights leaders, including Abraham Joshua Heschel (second from the right), as they begin a march on March 21, 1965 for voter registration rights for African Americans. Between Dr. Heschel and Dr. King is Dr. Ralphe Bunche, Undersecretary of the United Nations. Courtesy of AP Images.
"We are not makers of history. We are made by history." — Dr. King
Chancellor Louis Finkelstein (r) and Professor Joseph Wohl (l) present Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. an honorary degree from JTS in 1964; Dr. Heschel was Dr. King's sponsor. Courtesy of the Ratner Center, JTS.
"Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase." — Dr. King
Dr. Heschel, Rabbi Eli A. Bohnen, and Dr. King at the Rabbinical Assembly convention, two weeks prior to Dr. King's assassination.
"The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically . . . Intelligence plus character—that is the goal of true education." — Dr. King
Dr. Heschel with JTS rabbinic students in 1972
"God is to be found in many hearts all over the world. Not limited to one nation or one people, to one religion."
"Racism is an evil of tremendous power."
"Racism is man's gravest threat to man—the maximum of hatred for a minimum of reason."
See Dr. Heschel's compelling and groundbreaking interview on NBC, an excerpt of which is below. Order Abraham Joshua Heschel Remembered via our order form.