Reform Jewish Movement Celebrates 40th Anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
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Saperstein: Looking back at how far we have come in the ongoing struggle for justice and freedom, we gain renewed inspiration for the continuing journey on the road to an America in which all people share fully and equally in the life of our nation.
WASHINGTON, July 1, 2004 - On the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the signing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, who participated in a commemoration today with President Bush and civil rights leaders at the White House, issued the following statement:
Today we proudly celebrate the 40th Anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, a visionary law that brought us closer to the American promise of freedom and equality for all. Born of the blood, sweat, and tears of countless activists, religious leaders, and brave Americans, the Civil Rights Act proved to be a vital step toward eradicating discrimination from this great nation.
The Reform Jewish Movement is particularly proud of its place in the battle for equal justice in America. The creation of the Movement's Religious Action Center in Washington, DC in 1962 was inextricably linked to the commitment of Reform Jewry to fight for the civil rights of all Americans. The then-President of the Reform Movement, Maurice Eisendrath, marched proudly alongside Martin Luther King, Jr., vigorously rallying American Jewry and the nation at-large to realize our promise as a land of equal rights for all. The Civil Rights Act itself was drafted in the conference room of the Religious Action Center by leaders of the Jewish and African American civil rights communities. Since then, we have maintained our commitment to civil rights, sustained in the struggle by the Biblical vision of all humanity being "created in the image of God."
On this landmark anniversary, we give thanks for rights won and remember those who gave their lives to this great effort. We pledge never to relinquish their cause of building a society enriched - not divided - by our diversity. Looking back at how far we have come in the ongoing struggle for justice and freedom, we gain renewed inspiration for the continuing journey on the road to an America in which all people share fully and equally in the life of our nation. Forty years later, the anniversary of the Civil Rights Act reminds us that our society is capable of grand and positive change, if only we have the courage and will to seek it.
The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is the Washington office of the Union for Reform Judaism, whose more than 900 congregations across North America encompass 1.5 million Reform Jews , and the Central Conference of American Rabbis(CCAR) whose membership includes more than 1800 Reform rabbis .