The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (z”l) had strong ties with Conservative Judaism and The Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS). The JTS Library will honor those ties and Dr. King’s achievements with an exhibit titled Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and The Jewish Theological Seminary: History and Legacy. Photographs, letters between JTS and Dr. King’s staff, and other documentation of this close relationship will be shown at The Library (3080 Broadway, at 122nd Street) January 17 through April 17.
Dr. King was close to Abraham Joshua Heschel, a professor of Jewish Ethics and Mysticism at The Rabbinical School, who marched with Dr. King from Selma to Montgomery in 1963, and also close with Rabbi Seymour Siegel, a professor of Ethics and Theology at JTS and later an adviser to Presidents Nixon, Ford, and Reagan.
On June 7, 1964—the year following the March on Washington and a month before the passage of the Civil Rights Act in Congress—JTS presented Dr. King with an honorary degree during its 70th commencement exercises. Rabbi Siegel was a co-sponsor of Dr. King’s honorary degree, along with Judge Simon H. Rifkind. The exhibit will include the invitation to Dr. King, responses from his staff, and the commencement program.
Upon Dr. King’s assassination in Memphis, Tennessee, on April 4, 1968, the JTS community mourned him as one of its own. Rabbi Siegel attended his funeral in Atlanta. JTS held memorial services, not only the following day, but also to mark the anniversary of his death in 1969 and 1970. In 1968, in the week following his assassination, prayers dedicated to Dr. King were written for a special Passover Seder that JTS gave in his honor; these will also be included in the exhibit.
Dr. King’s legacy at JTS continues to this day. Chancellor Arnold Eisen and the institution have established as a priority multicultural and interreligious dialogue and programming, as well as a continued commitment to civil rights for all people in accordance with Jewish values.
The exhibit Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and The Jewish Theological Seminary: History and Legacy will be in the two display cases outside the Special Reading Room on the fifth floor of The Library.
Continuing in The Library until February 7 is the exhibit Judah Nadich: Rabbi, Military Chaplain, and Community Builder. It honors Rabbi Judah Nadich (z”l), United States Army senior Jewish chaplain in Europe during World War II, adviser to General Dwight D. Eisenhower on Jewish Affairs, and JTS alum (ordination, 1936; doctorate in Hebrew Literature, 1953). In addition to his work at displaced persons camps and with President Eisenhower, Rabbi Nadich is also known for helping women carve out a role within Judaism’s Conservative Movement. The Nadich exhibit is in the Library’s Eleanore and Ollie A. Cohen Exhibit Lounge.
Both the Nadich and the King exhibits are open to the public. Photo ID is required for entrance to JTS.
Visit JTS at www.jtsa.edu.