'I have a dream': Jews and African Americans celebrate freedom together

"It was Dr. King who took the Hebrew Bible and made it a modern liberation manifesto, thereby demonstrating to the Jewish community, the contemporary power of Jewish prophecy and values."

RABBI ABRAHAM JOSHUA HESCHEL presents a Judaism and World Peace award to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1965. (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
RABBI ABRAHAM JOSHUA HESCHEL presents a Judaism and World Peace award to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1965.
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
As Jews prepare to celebrate their freedom from bondage over 3,000 years ago, African Americans, who only gained their independence in 1865, are planning to join in the festivities. A joint zoom Passover Seder held by the Genesis 123 Foundation and the Church of God In Christ (COGIC) Israel Jurisdiction intends to unify Jews and African Americans through their common history of slavery.
“For 3,500 years, the Jewish people have celebrated the biblical festival of Passover, retelling the story of their slavery and redemption. They say Avadeim Hayeinu – ‘we were slaves’, and embrace that as part of their past and future. Yet many Americans, particularly White Americans, say ‘why are Black people still talking about slavery? Why can’t they just get over it and move on?" said Bishop Glenn Plummer, the head of COGIC.
Plummer and Genesis 123 Foundation President Jonathan Feldstein will touch upon this dilemma and many others regarding discrimination and equality in the webinar.
He went on to emphasize the importance of this open discussion for African Americans on Passover night, "We need to talk and help some people understand that slavery and its associated freedom from it, will always be in our DNA and we must openly remember it, zachor, just like the Jewish people.”
Plummer compared the struggles of both, revealing a chilling similarity in their history, "We have known and felt more than the cold chill of chains and the searing crucible of bondage. We have both endured second-class status and wholesale slaughter; each of us still struggles to protect the value of life. Moreover, each of us has been guided by our God and his prophets, and drawn from our faith the hope and the strength to prevail."
Just as Moses spoke out on behalf of the Jewish people before Pharaoh and eventually guided them out of slavery into the promised land of Israel, the same can be said of Martin Luther King Jr. who did not remain silent in light of discrimination, and ushered in an era of human rights and equality in America, the land of opportunity.
"It was Dr. King who took the Hebrew Bible and made it a modern liberation manifesto, thereby demonstrating to the Jewish community, who often look at their own texts and traditions as ossified, the contemporary power of Jewish prophecy and values," announced author of Judaism for EveryoneShmuley Boteach.. 
He continued to relate the biblical resemblance in King's actions, "It is almost eerie to behold the bond between the sacred words and struggle of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr…. and those of the Jews laid out in the essential texts of our nationhood. 'Go and tell Pharaoh!'"
"On April 2, 1968, at Mason Temple, he would prophecy as he waged war against the modern slavery that plagued his people. God, he explained, had taken him to the mountaintop. 'I have seen the promised land... I may not get there with you. But we as a people will get to the promised land,'" Boteach recast King's profound last words.
The opportunity to share in the Passover celebration of freedom calls upon Jews, African Americans, and other minorities to unit and rekindle the flame of equality, justice, and kindness that King lit among all of humanity.
Feldstein, Genesis 121's president, who works to build bridges between Jews and Christians, expressed his support of the initiative.
“We have a shared history of being slaves, Jews and African Americans, albeit through different experiences 3,000 years apart. We can learn and grow together from these. Jews always understood this, and stood with Blacks during the Civil Rights movement. These are strong foundations upon which to explore our past and our future together, through the prism of Passover and particularly the Seder,” he said.
King's timeless speech and moving manifesto, I Have a Dream, rings loud and true in light of this unique Passover night, in which Jews and African Americans will unite to praise and thank God for their freedom.
"Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice... To lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God's children," exclaimed King.
"And when this happens, and when we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, Black men and White men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual: Free at last. Free at last. Thank God almighty, we are free at last."
The event, “Common history, common destiny: The Jewish and African American experience of slavery and liberation through the prism of Passover” will take place on a webinar Monday March 29 at 8:00 p.m. Israel time (1:00 p.m. EST). Those interested in attending can apply here or watch the Seder on Genesis 121 Foundation's youtube channel.