Honoring Dr. King and Rabbi Heschel


To the Editor:

This past weekend, many of us honored the Rev. Dr. King and Rabbi Heschel with the veneration they deserve by participating in a Shabbat service at the Martha’s Vineyard Hebrew Center, led by Rabbi Broitman. Afterward, as we schmoozed and noshed, one could sense that most congregants and attendees felt pretty good — myself included. 

That feel-good moment got me thinking: Imagine all the positive changes that could arise if those of us who honored Dr. King and Rabbi Heschel followed their example by getting involved personally in battling for social justice for all. Essentially, our democracy, freedom, and citizenship require a higher level of participation than just feeling good. 

One can use the immortal words of Dr. King for inspiration and motivation to take on one task:

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter … Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle … Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere … We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”

Or the memorable words of Rabbi Heschel: “Morally speaking, there is no limit to the concern one must feel for the suffering of human beings, that indifference to evil is worse than evil itself, that in a free society, some are guilty, but all are responsible.”

Voilà, my epiphany! How about between now and this time next year, each of us, not already involved, gets involved and takes on one task related to, for example, sexual orientation, voting rights, immigrant support, housing, financial support, or handicapping conditions? Wouldn’t that be a great way of honoring and memorializing Dr. King and Rabbi Heschel? Indeed, when we gather next year and share with others what we each accomplished, that personal involvement and achievement, for the greater good, would make for a superior personal feel-good.


Herbert Foster


Foster is an Edgartown Library trustee and a director of the Martha’s Vineyard Social Justice Leadership Foundation.