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Hosted by Congregation Etz Chayim, our March 11 Peaceful Presence included wonderful music and prayers as well as contributions from Muslim, Christian and Jewish faith leaders. The theme was Compassion and Justice.
Rabbi Chaim Koritzinsky from Congregation Etz Chayim focused on "March" and turned our attention to the March 25, 1965 "March on Montgomery." He read from a letter by Rabbi Jacob Pressman, a colleague of his who, along with other rabbis across the nation, had responded to Dr. King's call and joined the march. Pressman's impressions are personal, vivid and moving. Click here to download the full text. Some excerpts are particularly relevant for us today:
"At one point we reached a hilltop in the road, and I was able to look back behind me at a solid column of chanting humanity at least a half-mile long. Then I looked down the hill in front of us and again I saw a half-mile of solid humanity, united from everywhere by a common concern for other people, for human decency. I must confess as I stood on that hilltop and saw myself and felt myself surrounded by these decent, caring persons, I burst into tears and never really got my eyes dry for hours afterward. They weren’t tears of sorrow. They weren’t tears of hatred or frustration, but they were tears of pride in the goodness of which man is capable when he tries. ...
Rev. Dr. Eileen Altman from First Congregational Church UCC in Palo Alto and the MVPJ Steering Committee read from Anne Lamott's book, Hallelujah Anyway: Rediscovering Mercy. "Mercy, grace, forgiveness and compassion are synonyms, and the approaches we might consider taking when facing a great big mess, especially the great big mess of ourselves - our arrogance, greed, poverty, disease, prejudice. It includes everything out there that just makes us sick and makes us want to turn away, the idea of accepting life as it presents itself and doing goodness anyway. ...
Our Muslim contribution came from Fattin Wekselman. She shared that an acquaintance of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) named Usamah ibn Sharik narrated:
Many thanks to Ellen Stromberg from Congregational Etz Chayim who organized and led the gathering!