We are swiftly approaching the confluence of three moments of profound spiritual intensity: Passover, Christian Holy Week, and the 50th anniversary of the death of Dr. Martin Luther King.
All three are about resistance to oppression—Pharaoh, the Roman Empire, and the “triplets” Dr. King named as dangerous to America: racism, militarism, materialism. And in each case, the oppressed not only resisted tyranny, but also worked to create a new kind of spiritual community.
For April 4, 1969, the first anniversary of Dr. King’s death, I wrote a Freedom Seder that like all Seders was deeply rooted in the past and unlike them, spoke powerfully to the future.
The Shalom Center has put in almost two years of work preparing for this 50-year moment, drawing on the spiritual power of those festivals and of “MLK+50.”
And now here we are! Many of you have supported our work with your activism, creativity, and money. I want to thank you, and to let you know what your contributions have already brought about, including what we are doing in the next few weeks. And I also want to share what we are planning beyond this season and ask you to help make it happen. Please contribute here
<https://theshalomcenter.org/civicrm/contribute/transact?reset=1&id=1>, and whether you do or not, please read on.
The struggle for freedom has moved forward for at least 3,000 years. Three eras, three examples:
The Exodus itself (a general strike against oppression)
The Seder led by Rabbi Akiba, as resistance to the
Roman Empire stirred about 130 CE
And the multiracial, multireligious Freedom Seder in 1969 CE.
Now what? The Shalom Center has created and widely distributed a new “MLK+50 Interfaith Freedom Seder,” drawing on Dr. King’s wisdom as it connects with the struggles and wisdoms of today.
In late March and early April, we will carry out an extraordinary line-up of events that are rooted in the “MLK+50” Seder. They range from public forums on the Freedom Seders, old and new, at the Center for Jewish History and the National Museum of American Jewish History, to my speaking and leading the concluding prayer for the interfaith prayer service sponsored by the National Council of Churches on April 4 at the National Mall in Washingon DC as many thousands gather to honor Dr. King through action for "Truth and Racial Justice."
Our work will not end then. We are already looking forward to the next steps to resist the modern Pharaohs of Carbon, Pharma, and Wall Street, and their incitement of racist, Islamophobic, anti-immigrant, anti-woman, anti-science, anti-free-press, and anti-Earth energies as a way to increase their own power and their hyper-wealth.
There are two main themes we see for our work going forward:
Healing and Renewing our Climate
One is to deepen our work on the climate crisis. It is increasingly clear that even halting all CO2 and methane emissions will leave so much of them still in the atmosphere as to bring about multiple catastrophes for human civilization.
So -- many scientists are now exploring how to reverse the carbonization of our atmosphere and oceans, to achieve a climate as healthy and life-giving for our children and grandchildren as it was for our parents and grandparents. As Proverbs 29:18 says, “With no Vision, the People Perish.” The Shalom Center will work with scientists to develop a vision of how to renew that world, not just to barely survive great disasters.
Second, it is clear that our present government is so addicted to increasing the wealth and power of the modern Pharaohs—including the Carbon Pharaohs that are hell-bent on burning the Earth to multiply their wealth —that we must put some energy into resisting their attack on democracy.
This fall, we will celebrate the Jewish Harvest festival of Sukkot with a campaign to
Share Sukkot; Grow the Vote!
Many groups will be working to get out the vote. What we can provide is the spiritual interweaving of that effort with the deep values of Sukkot – inclusiveness of all communities, openness to the Earth and to each other, joy in gathering to Harvest the fruits of our labor and Grow the Vote, rather than treating it as onerous toil.
Your support is crucial to our being able to get these two campaigns going and growing. Please sow the seeds now to harvest in the fall. Please click on the maroon "Contribute" button on the left-hand maargin of this page, to send us your (tax-deductible) contribution.
Thank you! And blessings to you of shalom, salaam, paz, peace—Arthur