Summer Issue of B’nai B’rith Magazine Examines the Role of Jews in the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s
Jews represented a disproportionate number of those whites who participated in the civil rights struggle in the South during the 1960s. As a minority that had known firsthand the horrors of persecution, they were motivated by the Jewish concept of tikkun olam, the obligation to help repair the world, and they risked their lives in the fight against racism.
In this issue, Dina Weinstein interviews Jews who, as young adults half a century ago, came from all over the country to battle against racial injustice by protesting segregation and helping African Americans register to vote. Facing constant threats of violence and frequent arrests, they did not shy away from the challenge. Over subsequent decades, many have continued to work for social justice and equality.
Willy Leventhal, among the Jewish freedom fighters, provides a riveting first-person account of what he faced as a young college student from California working for the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Georgia in 1965. Leventhal was verbally harassed, jailed and shot at numerous times for his efforts. In the years since, Leventhal has maintained his tireless devotion to the civil rights movement.
Elsewhere in the issue, Gary G. Yerkey reports on the centennial celebrations held by the Swedish government to celebrate the anniversary of Raoul Wallenberg’s birth. The Swedish government hopes that honoring Wallenberg, who saved thousands of Jews during the Holocaust, might help curb a rising tide of anti-Semitism in the country.
Also read about B’nai B’rith International’s own history of pursuing justice in President Allan J. Jacobs’ column. Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin shares his perspective on Israelis’ remarkable ability to live their lives in the midst of perpetual conflict in his column.
Read all this and more in the summer 2012 issue of B’nai B’rith Magazine by clicking here.