Three score years ago, a great American stood at the podium on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. and addressed a crowd of some 250,000 strong. That watershed moment in history became a great beacon light of hope to the millions who were still seared in the flames of withering injustice, and the anaphora of that address became the rallying cry for all of those who currently march in that great American’s footsteps, protesting injustice anywhere as a threat to justice everywhere.
If you are not intimately familiar with the text of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s I Have a Dream speech, delivered on August 28, 1963, I highly recommend you take a few minutes and read through it. It’s well worth your time. He was a masterful orator, who held visions of history past and present to paint the picture of a beautiful future with unparalleled skill. The structure of his speech, his delivery in the moment, and the passion with which he delivered, still stirs the heart even 55 years after his untimely death. And his message, delivered through his absolutely masterful rhetoric, is timeless.
He speaks of justice. His particular audience on that date was the millions who were living under Jim Crow, the citizens of this country who were classified as second-rate and second-class simply because of the color of their skin, the Americans whom America could not see for the content of their character. But the theme of injustice, and his dream of a world that was blanketed in peace and equality, speaks spectacularly to the current moment.
Because we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt, and so we are coming to the nation’s capitol to remind America, the world, ourselves, of the fierce urgency of now. There is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off, not while our brothers and sisters are fighting for their lives, nor to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism, because all we asked for was to live in peace and quiet and that peace and quiet was brutally, horrifically shattered on what should have been a calm and uneventful morning.
We can ill afford to lose the urgency of the moment. We cannot afford to sit back and ask if this march will help. We cannot afford to rest on our heels and wonder until we’ve grown old and gray and all we have to show for it is thought and no deed. The moment is right now. Our soldiers are fighting for their lives right now. Our people are living under threat of attack at any moment right now. Our siblings and parents and grandparents and cousins and children are captives in Gaza right now. And so there can be neither rest nor tranquility for the Jews in America until our homeland can find her rest and tranquility.
And we cannot be satisfied so long as our family members remain the victims of unspeakable horrors. We cannot be satisfied as long as our soldiers, heavy with fatigue, cannot rest their heads for the night because they have to remain on high alert deep within enemy territory. We cannot be satisfied so long as our children are stripped of their self and robbed of their dignity by being pulled from their beds and being used as pawns by an enemy that has declared that their end goal is our extinction.
“No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream.”
You see, we, too, have a dream. It is a dream deeply intertwined with Dr. King’s dream, although the particulars of it look different. We have a dream that one day we can truly live חופשי בארצנו, free in our land, without the threat of terrorists killing us in our homes and yanking us—all of us—from our lives. We have a dream that on the hilltops of Jerusalem, the sounds of children singing will grace the streets, punctuated by the music of construction that signifies an ever-expanding city to suit an ever-growing populace. We have a dream that our children, our future, can live in a land where their greatest concern is the scrapes on their knees and the grades on their exams, where the only sirens they hear are those of the ambulances carrying the soon-to-be-new mothers to the hospital and the weekly sirens that herald the Shabbat. We have a dream that one day down in Sderot, its homes broken and empty, and in Kibbutz Nir Oz, with its mailboxes marked up to note who has been killed and who has been taken, and in Kfar Azza, which lies in absolute ruin, and in Ofakim, where an unshakable woman made cookies to stall for time, and in Kerem Shalom and in Netivot and, and, and, we have a dream that one day, right down in these cities and towns and villages, Jews will once again dance and sing and live in joy and peace.
We, too, have a dream today. But if we want it enough, then it is no dream.
Because this is our hope. This is our faith. This is why we fight. This is the strength with which we march in Washington. This is the hope with which our soldiers enter the fire. This is the faith with which we will all return home. With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. This will be the day when every Jew of every stripe can join hands and together sing our song of hope, our national anthem that accounts for our sorrows and losses and fears of the last two thousand years and distills that into the faith that we still have that hope is not lost, and that we can be a sovereign people, living freely in our land, with the laughter and love and joy of dreamers who dreamed and marched and fought to turn that dream into a beautiful reality.
Please continue to pray for us, and for the following soldiers, especially:
עזרא צבי יוסף בן אריאלה פנינה
יעקב זכריה בן אריאלה פנינה
אליהו סִינַי בן ביילא רבקה
נַתַּן בן דבורה אסתר
דוד אלכסנדר בן דבורה אסתר
אלכסנדר בן שרה אלישבע
ראובן אליעזר בן אביגיל אסתר
בועז כָּלֵב בן יפָה מרים
יצחק אייזיק בן פריידא
אהרן בן רחל ברכה
חובב בן דבורה אסתר
שמחה בן הינדא ברכה
כי ה׳ אלקיכם ההולך עמכם להלחם לכם עם אויביכם להושיע אתכם. ה׳ ישמור צאתך ובואך מעתה ועד עולם