Simeon Cohen

Looking out from the Mountaintop after Colleyville

On April 3rd, 1968–the day before he was assassinated–Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his legendary “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop Speech” in Memphis. He closed that speech with the following words:

“I don’t know what will happen now. We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it doesn’t matter with me now. Because I’ve been to the mountaintop… I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land. And I’m happy, tonight. I’m not worried about anything. I’m not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.”

Reading those prophetic words sends chills down my spine. Up until the day before he died, Dr. King never relinquished hope. He never gave up. And he knew that even if, like Moses, he would not be the one to lead the people into the Promised Land, eventually, they would get there.

On Saturday, the Jewish world was once again rocked to its core when a terrorist held four Jews hostage, including Rabbi Charlie Cytron Walker, at Shabbat morning services in a synagogue in Colleyville, Texas. Like so many Jews across the globe, I was glued to the news, watching the story unfold. And like so many Jews across the globe, I’m exhausted. Following the attacks in Pittsburgh, Poway and Jersey City– and everything else that the American Jewish community has been through in recent years– it can sometimes feel nearly impossible to keep soldiering on.

Yet in the face of the enormous challenges ahead, I take great inspiration from the spirit of Dr. King. We too need to stand on that mountaintop. We need to look out and proclaim, unreservedly and with full-throated passion, that we will make it to the Promised Land. Because as Dr. King reminds us, no matter how exhausted or depleted we may be feeling, we can’t afford to give up hope.

Baruch Atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melekh HaOlam, Hanoten Leyaef Koach.

Blessed are you, Lord our God, ruler of the universe, who gives strength to the weary and inspires us to continue the work that needs to be done each and every day to ensure that we too, like our ancestors before us, will make it to the Promised Land.

About the Author
Rabbi Simeon Cohen is the rabbi of Temple Beth Shalom in Livingston, NJ, where he resides with his wife, Dr. Ariel Fein, their daughter Amalya and their samoyed, Ophelia.
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