The Prophet Martin Luther King, Jr:: A ReAwakening

"We as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values."

Today (April 4, 2018) is the 50th anniversary of the death -- the murder, to be honest -- of Dr. Martin Luther King. To honor, reawaken, and renew the wisdom he taught, two cantors have created Haftarot -- the prophetc passages chanted on every Shabbat in Jewish congregations -- that are woven from his prophetic teachings and chanted according to haftarah melodies.

One, woven of passages from his speech “Beyond Vietnam,” has been chanted by Cantor Abbe Lyons. Both her chanted recitation  and her annotated text, with trope marks, can be found here:


 The other, by Hazzan Jack Kessler, is woven of passages from several different speeches by Dr. King. Both trope-marked text and his chant of the Haftarah can be found here:


“We as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a ‘thing-oriented’ society to a ‘person-oriented’ society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.“

(Dr. Martin  Luther King, "Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence,” April 4, 1967)


"A genuine revolution of values means in the final analysis that our loyalties must become ecumenical rather than sectional. Every nation must now develop an overriding loyalty to humankind as a whole in order to preserve the best in their individual societies.

“This call for a world-wide fellowship that lifts neighborly concern beyond one's tribe, race, class and nation is in reality a call for an all-embracing and unconditional love for all life.

“Love has now become an absolute necessity for the survival of humanity.

“We can no longer afford to worship the god of hate or bow before the altar of retaliation. History is cluttered with the wreckage of nations and individuals that pursued this self-defeating path of hate.

“We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now.”

                                                                        (MLK, “Beyond Vietnam,  April 4, 1967)



“The issue is the refusal of Memphis to be fair and honest in its dealings with its public servants, who happen to be sanitation workers. One thousand, three hundred sanitation workers are on strike. Now we're going to march again, and force everybody to see that there are thirteen hundred of God's children here suffering, sometimes going hungry, going through dark and dreary nights wondering how this thing is going to come out. And we've got to say to the nation: We know how it's coming out. For when people get caught up with that which is right and they are willing to sacrifice for it, there is no stopping point short of victory.”

                                                                        (MLK in Memphis, April 3, 1968)


I have been to the mountaintop. … I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And 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!”                   

(MLK in Memphis, April 3, 1968)



Jewish and Interfaith Topics: