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December 11, 2016 / 11 Kislev, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘Martin’

Religious Right and ACLU Protest Judge’s No Messiah Ruling

Monday, August 19th, 2013

It began when Jaleesa, 22, took the father of her baby, Jawaan P. McCullough, 40, to family court in Tennessee, to establish paternity and to set child support. Oh, and the baby’s name was Messiah, according to the LA Times.

In court it was revealed that the father had wanted to name the baby Jawaan P. McCullough Jr., but he no longer objected to calling the boy Messiah Deshawn. But the judge decided to change the baby’s name anyway.

“It is not in this child’s best interest to keep the first name ‘Messiah,'” Magistrate Lu Ann Ballew wrote in her decision. “‘Messiah’ means Savior, Deliverer, the One who will restore God’s Kingdom. ‘Messiah’ is a title that is held by only Jesus Christ.”

An entire Jewish family of Iraqi extract named Mashiach would argue differently, but you don’t get many Iraqi Jews in Tennessee. But even without that Iraqi-Jewish input, “Messiah” is an increasingly popular American baby name, according to the LA Times, as are the names Lord and King.

The name would impose an “undue burden on him that as a human being he cannot fulfill,” the judge wrote, although she really didn’t know just how spiritually gifted the baby Messiah was.

She also noted that in Cocke County, Tenn., where the new Messia resides, there is a “large Christian population” as evidenced by its “many churches of the Christian faith.”

“Therefore,” the judge concluded, “it is highly likely that he will offend many Cocke County citizens by calling himself ‘Messiah.'”

Maybe, maybe not – there’s a slew of Jesus’s out there and no one seems to mind, and then, come to think of it, using that same logic, the name David should also irk some people. So the ACLU of Tennessee got on the case, and, surprisingly, received many calls of support from the religious right, which typically threatens to blow up their offices over abortion cases.

“I got the classic call the other day,” Hedy Weinberg, executive director of the ACLU of Tennessee, told the LA Times. “They said, ‘I really don’t like the ACLU, but I support what you are saying and doing about the baby Messiah.”

UC Davis constitutional law professor Carlton F.W. Larson said the judge’s “entire line of reasoning totally violates basic freedom of religious purposes. This kid can’t be a Messiah because the Messiah is Jesus Christ? Judges don’t get to make pronouncements on the bench about who is the Messiah and who is not.”

The ACLU’s Weinberg agreed: “The judge is crossing the line by interfering in a very private decision and is imposing her own religious faith on this family. The courtroom is not a place for promoting personal religious beliefs, and that’s exactly what the judge did when she changed the baby Messiah’s name to Martin.”

On the other hand, if a certain Miriam from Nazareth had gone ahead and changed her own child’s name to Martin, we’d all be spared a lot of embarrassment…

Yori Yanover

Martin Luther King And The Exodus Narrative

Wednesday, January 17th, 2007

The national commemoration of the life of Martin Luther King Jr., which we marked earlier this week, always falls in the cycle of Torah reading that tells of the enslavement in Egypt of the Jewish people and their subsequent liberation.

Black clergy and religious laity of the 1960’s saw the biblical story of the Exodus as the paradigm for their own struggle for liberation from bias and second-class citizenship – the residue of their enslavement in America. They sought a Moses who could lead them into the promised land of social, economic and political equality. For many, the anticipated liberator emerged in the person of Martin Luther King Jr.

King came to public prominence as president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in January 1957. Just eleven years later, on April 4, 1968, having led a civil rights revolution in America and being a Nobel Prize laureate, he was assassinated.

During his lifetime King was a favorite of Jewish leadership, and no wonder: He was a strong supporter of Israel and other Jewish causes. Early in the struggle for Soviet Jewry, in November 1963, he raised his voice and said, “I cannot stand idly by as an American Negro and not be concerned about what happens to my brothers and sisters who happen to be Jews in Soviet Russia. For their problem is my problem.”

Despite the emergence in the mid-1960’s of significant anti-Israel and anti-Semitic voices among younger black leaders, King struggled to sustain the alliance between blacks and Jews, and to encourage support of Israel within the black community. He recognized early on that professed anti-Zionism was just a cover for deeper malevolence.

My personal involvement with Martin Luther King Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement was most intense in March 1965 in Selma, Alabama. King had issued a call for help in the last stages of a voter registration drive for blacks in Selma and for participants in the projected march from Selma to Montgomery.

The preceding months had seen an escalation of Southern resistance to civil rights demonstrations and an increase in violence – including the murders of Jimmy Lee Jackson and Reverend James Reeb, a white Unitarian minister from Detroit. Prior attempts at a march from Selma to Montgomery had been stopped by Alabama State Troopers who attacked the marchers with whips, dogs and rubber tubing wrapped in barbed wire.

I was then the rabbi of Congregation Beth Israel, the Orthodox synagogue in Berkeley, California. I explained to the congregation why I felt impelled by Torah to join in this civil rights effort.

After we learn, in Parshat Shemot, that Moshe was in fact nursed and raised by his mother Yocheved before being returned to the daughter of Pharaoh, the Torah tells us three short stories about Moshe and injustice that help us understand why he will eventually become the liberator and leader of the Jewish people.

First, Moshe, a bystander, intervenes to rescue a fellow Jew by killing an Egyptian taskmaster. Then he intervenes a second time in a dispute that is not his, to separate two Jews, one of whom is about to strike the other.

In consequence of that second intervention, Moshe is compelled to flee Egypt, and ends up wandering in the Midianite desert. There he comes upon yet a third instance of injustice as shepherds prevent the daughters of Yitro from watering their flocks.

Moshe understands that even though none of the parties to this conflict are Jews, and that he could stand aside and not risk being accused of having caused the evil, his Jewish responsibility is to do what he can to prevent the perpetration of injustice.

Rabbi Saul J. Berman

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/front-page/martin-luther-king-and-the-exodus-narrative/2007/01/17/

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