National Council of Jewish Women was at the historic March on Washington 60 years ago and yesterday, August 26, 2023, we marched again. Sheila Katz, our CEO, spoke to the crowd, addressing reproductive justice, the continuing toll of gun violence and the threat of rising bigotry.
Here’s the full transcript:
Shabbat Shalom. My name is Sheila Katz, and I am the CEO of National Council of Jewish Women, the nation’s oldest Jewish feminist civil rights organization, an organization that was honored to first join this march sixty years ago.
For the Jewish community, this time leading up to our high holidays is one of reflection. This month, we are commanded to recommit to the work of repentance and repair not only as individuals, but importantly, fundamentally as a community.
Together, we feel the pain of living in a country where gun violence is the leading cause of death for children.
Together, we mourn the profound toll of racism, antisemitism, Islamophobia and every form of bigotry.
Together, we hold our righteous anger at the judges and legislators who are denying women their bodily autonomy.
Not alone, but together, we recognize all the ways that this country has failed to live up to its sacred obligations of justice and equity for all people.
But we do not just feel together. As the high holidays compel us to repair, we also act together. As our kehila kedosha, our holy community, we draw strength from one another. We remind ourselves that we stand in a long line of people of every race and creed willing to stand firm for the values we believe in. We remember Dr. King’s refusal to be satisfied “until justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream.”
This morning, on the steps of this temple of liberty, we feel the power of his words. The power of the thousands of people joining us here today. The power of the millions of people across the country who are ready to rush like a wave into the streets — and into the voting booth.
Together, as our holy community, our “beloved community,” we’re joined as one force, a rising tide of justice, of equity, of opportunity.
Today, arm in arm, side by side, let us recommit ourselves to the painful, difficult, joyful, holy work ahead. Amen.