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A Prayer in Honor of Martin Luther King Day

Posted on Jan 5, 2012

By Lilly Kaufman

Dr. King would have faced hard facts today.
He would know the number of children
going hungry in America this very minute.
He would know the number of our war dead,
and those wounded in new ways.
He would know the astounding costs
of financial corruption.
He would have seen beyond the numbers,
to the faces of our people,
and he would still have faith in them,
and in what is right.

He would be preaching now
a determined, measured, poetic, prophetic outrage.
He would be teaching by example
our civic duty of compassion,
and decrying the grave civic danger of cynicism.

He would challenge the strange new ideas
that money equals speech
and corporations are people
in a democracy.
When he gave his life for peoplesʼ rights
of speech, and assembly, and the vote,
it was for people
who had no money to pay for speech.
They knew speech as an unalienable right,
and their wealth of spirit sufficed.

Dr. King had faith in a few great things:
one was our essential American dream.
Not a middle-class American dream,
or an upper-class, a working-poor,
or an impoverished-class American dream.
But the defining American dream
which lifts up those bowed down.
The abiding American dream
of liberty and justice for all.

Dr. King asked of God in 1964:

... grant that we will always reach out
for that which is high,
realizing that we are made for the stars,
created for the everlasting,
born for eternity.

May we learn again to reach out for that which is high.


(Download PDF)

Further reading on Civil Rights from Conservative Judaism Journal

Dr Martin Luther King

Dear Rabbi Lilly

You teach such a valuable lesson in a beautifully written poetic way. Some have the gift of gap some the gift to write -  you possess both!

You friend,


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