July 31, 2020
Members of the Atlanta Jewish community shared their views on the passing of beloved Congressman John Lewis on July 17 due to pancreatic cancer.
In one article, Rabbi Joshua Lesser of Bet Haverim said, “Pour out our hearts like water” (Lamentations 2:19) as a recurring theme as Jewish Atlanta shared their grief at the passing of John Lewis.
Other Atlantans also shared their sentiments at the passing of the longtime statesman and civil rights icon, who was 80 at the time.
A week prior to his death, Sherry Frank had visited Lewis at his Atlanta home to “tell him goodbye and how much I loved him.” She recalled how she, Lewis, and the late Cecil Alexander formed the Atlanta Black-Jewish Coalition, calling Lewis “a champion of causes central to the Jewish community: anti-Semitism, freedom for Soviet Jewry, security for Israel.”
Billy Planer led hundreds of groups on civil rights history trips throughout the South. He said that Lewis “understood that we were all in this together. That is why he looked to completely blur the lines between the Black and Jewish communities.”
Jerry Klinger wrote how Lewis helped create what is believed the nation’s first anti-lynching memorial. The memorial was placed at the Leo Frank memorial in Marietta, where Atlanta Jewish businessman Frank was lynched. Klinger explained that the application for placement was originally denied. Lewis wrote to the Georgia Department of Transportation, urging it to reconsider their denial. After Lewis’ letter, the GDOT reconsidered and approved the application for the memorial.
Peter Berg, senior rabbi at The Temple, said of the civil rights leader, “John Lewis taught us all that the world will not fix itself, that if we want to make a difference, we have to stand up and be counted.”
- AJT STaff
- Year in Review
- John Lewis
- Rabbi Joshua Lesser
- Congregation Bet Haverim
- Civil Rights
- jewish atlanta
- Sherry Frank
- Cecil Alexander
- Atlanta Black-Jewish Coalition
- Billy Planer
- Jerry Klinger
- Leo Frank
- Georgia Department of Transportation
- Peter Berg
- The Temple