CCAR Newsletter Sep-Oct 2015 - 3

We rejoice in the achievements and honors accorded to our colleagues...

!‫כל הכבוד‬
HILLEL COHN (C '63), on the establishment of
the "Rabbi Hillel Cohn Endowed Lecture on the
Contemporary Jewish Experience" at California
State University, San Bernardino. The lectureship
has been established by the CSUSB College of
Social and Behavioral Sciences and is, to the
best of their knowledge, the very first time that
an endowed lectureship has been created in the
entire California State University system honoring
a rabbi.
NILES GOLDSTEIN (NY '94), on the recent
publication of his newest book, Eight Questions of
Faith: Biblical Challenges that Guide and Ground
Our Lives (Jewish Publication Society).

LESLIE Y. GUTTERMAN (C '70), for whom a
Clinical Medical Professorship was established
at Brown University in his honor. Additionally, the
Religious School of Temple Beth-El (Providence,
RI) was recently dedicated in his name to mark
the conclusion of his 45-year tenure.
RON KRONISH (NY '73), on his recent
retirement as founding director of the Interreligious
Coordinating Council in Israel (ICCI), which he
founded 24 years ago. As of January 2015, he is
the senior advisor for ICCI, which is a department
of Rabbis for Human Rights. In addition, Ron has
edited a book of essays called Coexistence and
Reconciliation in Israel-Voices for Interreligious
Dialogue, published by Paulist Press, at the end of
March 2015.

JACK A. LUXEMBURG (C'76), on being
awarded the Distinguished Service Award from
the Jewish Community Relations Council of
Greater Washington for his many contributions
and achievements during more than three
decades of community leadership. In the last 60
years, he is the only rabbi to lead the JCRC and
is credited with helping to establish it as one of
the premier Community Relations agencies in the
country. He has been similarly recognized by the
city of Rockville, MD, and the NAACP, among
others.
JEFFREY STIFFMAN (C '65), on being honored
by his congregation on the occasion of his 50th
anniversary of ordination with the establishment
of the "Stiffman Lecture Series."

HOLDING CONTRADICTIONS, HOLDING HANDS
Seth M. Limmer

There is something significant about a
handshake.
Not a cold, clammy, mere formality, but a real
handshake. When, after a good day's work, a
shared struggle endured, or an arrival at a rest
stop on a long road, one human being locks
hands with another-locks eyes with another
human being-and shares the physical contact,
the strength, of two hands from two different
people are powerfully clenched together in
communion, in community.
I had more real handshakes on August 1, 2015,
than on any other day of my life. This was the day
when I was lucky enough to pronounce the final
benediction at a ceremony blessing the outset
of the NAACP's 45-day American Journey for
Justice. This was the day when I was able publicly
to share words of Torah in Selma before marchers
undertook the first steps of an 865-mile trek to
make the world a better place. This was the day I
was graced-truly honored and overwhelmed-
by the privilege of carrying a sacred scroll of the
Torah over the famed Edmund Pettus Bridge,
taking about 700 of the million steps that lay
ahead on the sojourn to Washington, DC. This
was the day I walked, double-file down the
highway, 12 miles in the blazing 98-degree
Alabama heat. Yet what I will remember most
about the day was the power I felt with every
meaningful handshake.
"We are now bonded," said my new friend, Mary
Sorteburg, in a remarkable embrace that topped
everything else. That's how I felt after my day, only
one day, one in a series that will be marched by
my compatriots who yearn for justice, by my new
partners and friends in the NAACP leadership,
and by my colleagues who will march that same
Torah scroll all the way to DC. I felt bonded.

Bonded to Mary and her remarkable husband Jeff
Markley, who-despite being the senator from
Oregon-is now my spiritual representative in
our nation's Capitol. Bonded to the remarkable
Cornell William Brooks, the president of the
NAACP, with whom I walked that remarkable
road as we shared our stories in the blazing
sun. Bonded to leaders Leon Russell and
Dwayne Proctor, with whom I shared continuing
conversations; bonded to Sierra Club President
Aaron Mair and a man named Middle Passage,
both of whom I came to know as they carried
the Torah down State Highway 80. Bonded to
Rabbis Denise Eger, Bruce Lustig, Beth Singer,
and Jason Roditch-who previously had been at
best a quick "hello" at convention or sometimes
just a disembodied voice on the other end of the
phone-and who are now brothers- and sistersin-arms. Bonded to Susan Solomon, Merle Terry,
Jill and Grant Peters, who traveled with me from
Chicago Sinai Congregation to help our Torah
scroll take its place in the American Journey for
Justice. Bonded to the struggle to prove that black
lives matter. Bonded to the fight to end racism, to
fight racism, to talk honestly about racism.
And bonded to the Torah scroll. I am not a
rabbi overly focused on ritual, often moved by
symbolism. But carrying a sacred scroll down an
open highway, playing a small literal role in a
massive literal journey erased any capacity for
me to relate to Torah metaphorically. Even having
passed the scroll to a beloved and esteemed
colleague, I now feel as if I have a missing limb:
part of my mental energy is constantly wondering
where the scroll is, in whose treasuring arms it
rests. But with the Torah on that historic highway,
I have never felt smaller or bigger: I was one brief
person carrying the Torah down a long road for
one brief time; I could hardly see the end of the
day's walk, let alone the final destination. I have
3

never stood so proud and tall as I did as the clock
approached 6:00 and my feet were blistering.
I was able to carry the Torah proudly, to serve
my role, to play my small part. The knowledge
of being but a cog-but a vital part of the
machinery to make our world a better place-is
exactly the lesson of our American Journey for
Justice.
August 1 was filled with love, with hope, with
solidarity and community. It was also filled with
anger, confusion, and disappointment. It was
a day of contradiction. We were so generously
and safely guided and granted passage by the
Alabama State Police; how different not only
from 50 years ago when police presence on the
other side of the bridge signaled danger, but also
what a vast chasm from the terror black people
continue to face in nearly every encounter with
law enforcement. The Chicago Tribune published
a wonderful story about my colleagues' choosing
to walk in support of the NAACP; the only ink
the Tribune spent on the American Journey for
Justice was to document the participation of
white people. In one day, I feel as if I built real
relationships on the road that will last into the
future; in 13 months in Chicago, I have built
precious yet few relationships with black leaders.
The contradictions of the day still puzzle me; it is
upon me now to work toward their resolution.
On September 15, I will fly down to DC to
meet up again with my comrades in justice,
to carry that Torah scroll again in my arms as
we bring it together into the very seat of our
American democracy. I will travel with members
of my congregation, my daughter, and my
determination to bring about racial justice. I
look forward again to being with Cornell, with
Jeff, with Bruce, with Dwayne, with Leon, with
Mary, with so many more: the handshakes, the
(Continued on page 4)



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of CCAR Newsletter Sep-Oct 2015

CCAR Newsletter Sep-Oct 2015 - 1
CCAR Newsletter Sep-Oct 2015 - 2
CCAR Newsletter Sep-Oct 2015 - 3
CCAR Newsletter Sep-Oct 2015 - 4
CCAR Newsletter Sep-Oct 2015 - 5
CCAR Newsletter Sep-Oct 2015 - 6
CCAR Newsletter Sep-Oct 2015 - 7
CCAR Newsletter Sep-Oct 2015 - 8
CCAR Newsletter Sep-Oct 2015 - 9
CCAR Newsletter Sep-Oct 2015 - 10
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