Turning Dark Times into Light

Can MLKing + 50 trump Trump?
Will You Help Kindle The Shalom Center's Lamp
Against the "Deadly Triplets" of King's Warning?

Dear friends and supporters of The Shalom Center,

Hanukkah and Christmas are upon us. Both these holy days celebrate light in a season of darkness. Both celebrate resistance to oppressive Empires and Emperors—Antiochus  and Caesar Augustus. Both celebrate active hope and hopeful activism in a time of despair.

Today we too feel fear and hope, grief and determination, as we face a government led by Billionaires and Bigots, with a Bully in the chair of power.  A government designed to destroy practically all the practices, protections, and institutions of democratic life in the United States.

Yet we have not only Hanukkah and Christmas but the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, to guide us beyond fear. A few months from now, on April 4, 2017, will be the 50th anniversary of   Dr. King’s Riverside Church speech entitled “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break the Silence. ”

In that speech he named  racism, militarism, and materialism as deadly triplets afflicting America. And he called for a revolution of values in American society. He spoke of ’the fierce urgency of Now.”


Today the urgency of Now is even fiercer. We face a multidimensional attack from the new US government against democracy itself: --  

Against the public schools; against the healthcare system; against protections for the Earth  (including public lands, rivers and lakes and public water systems, clean air, and planetary climate healing); against regulations to prevent raw greed in the Wall Street 1% from imposing financial disasters on the rest of us; against civil liberties, religious freedom, Net neutrality, voting rights, and a free press; against the beginnings of oversight and accountability of the police and the criminal "justice" system to prevent racist violence and end mass incarceration.

Aready, the mere expectation of that government has multiplied demeaning words and physical attacks on Black and Latino and Muslim and Asian and immigrant communities; threats against the freedom and dignity of women; attacks on the web of human and more-than-human life that makes up Mother Earth. Many of us have even for the first time in our lives begun to worry about the safety of American Jews.

But those who lived through ancient Hanukkah and ancient Christmas were determined that they would not fall victim to oppression by Imperial Antiochus or Imperial Rome. As we light the Hanukkah and Christmas lights this year, we are determined that none of these communities will fall victim. We will stand shoulder to shoulder to heal America and heal the Earth.  

We are deeply grateful for your support of The Shalom Center’s past work. We want to tell you about our plans going forward in the hope you will feel they are worthy of investment—and that you will feel, as we do, how urgently they are needed.

The 50th anniversary of the Riverside speech will be followed exactly a year later by Dr. King’s yahrzeit, the 50th anniversary of his murder on April 4, 1968.

The nation will surely mark that day in 2018. But the times call for more than simple commemoration. The Shalom Center is initiating a yearlong campaign to begin on or just before April 4, 2017.

MLK + 50: A Jubilee Year of Truth and Transformation will draw on MLK’s words and actions to address the real grievances rooted in racism, militarism, and materialism that became so evident during the election and since.

Just as Dr. King spent his last year reaching across racial lines to blue-collar whites in his plans for the Poor People’s Campaign, we will draw on his work to address the real needs of the people who resorted to Trump out of despair.

We envision a culminating moment --- a vision intended to inspire action through the year: April 4, 2018, one million Americans take part in a Day of Action, Atonement, and At-One-ment in their communities with teach-ins, public activist prayer, work stoppages, fasts, and other forms of social and spiritual action.

We’re close to launching the website that will connect the year’s work across the U.S. You’ll be able to find events, connect with partners, download the Riverside speech along with commentaries, sermons, and guides for public events, and find downloadable liturgies, songs, artwork, and policy proposals it has inspired.

Between now and April 2018, we are working to seed public readings and discussions of the speech, Passover and Palm Sunday passages incorporating its values, public dialogues, and activities to raise awareness and inspire healing action.

The Shalom Center plays a unique role here as the coordinating body for this yearlong mobilization, trusted by many faith-based and other activist groups to catalyze the partnerships needed to honor Dr. King’s memory not as an artifact of the past, but as a galvanizing call to future action.

To kindle and sustain the sparks that will enable this national mobilization, The Shalom Center needs to raise money beyond our usual budget. So we ask you to give beyond your usual gift. Please click on the maroon Contribute button just below.

Every gift of any size will help and will be received with gratitude not only by our Board and staff, but by all those who so badly need a resounding echo of Dr. King’s message in a time that calls out for love and justice.

Blessings that in this moment of the fierce urgency of Now, we can kindle inner and outer light to once more turn a time of Dark into the Season of New Light.

President, The Shalom Center

Rabbi and Director, The Shalom Center


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