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The Jewish Press of Tampa and the Jewish Press of Pinellas County are Independently- owned biweekly Jewish community newspapers published in cooperation with and supported by the Tampa JCC & Federation and the Jewish Federation of Pinellas & Pasco Counties, respectively. Copyright © 2009-2018 The Jewish Press Group of Tampa Bay, Inc., All Rights Reserved.


 

August 28, 2015  RSS feed
Front Page

Text: T T T

Local rabbi joins ‘journey’ from Selma to D.C.

By THAIS LEON-MILLER
Jewish Press


Rabbi Jason Rosenberg of Congregation Beth Am in Tampa lent his support the NAACPsponsored “America’s Journey for Justice” civil rights march by walking for one day in the 46-day trek. Rabbi Jason Rosenberg of Congregation Beth Am in Tampa lent his support the NAACPsponsored “America’s Journey for Justice” civil rights march by walking for one day in the 46-day trek. Rabbi Jason Rosenberg of Tampa melted under the hot Georgia sun as he made a 19-mile trek along a road between Atlanta and Athens to help commemorate the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday in Selma, AL.

Two of the men walking beside him were more than 70 years old, so Rosenberg made sure to not utter one word of complaint, especially after he learned the pair of them had already been walking for two weeks.

Rabbi Rosenberg, leader of Congregation Beth Am in Tampa, was among those who joined with the NAACP, 15 of its partner organizations and assorted volunteers to remember the violence that rocked Selma in 1965 when state troopers, wielding whips, nightsticks and tear gas attacked civil rights marchers. In memory of that event, a march began in Selma on Aug. 1 and is expected to end Sept. 15 in Washington, D.C.


Civil rights supporters walk along a road in Georgia on Aug. 17 as part of a march from Selma, AL, to Washington, DC, to commemorate the Bloody Sunday attacks in Selma 50 years ago. Civil rights supporters walk along a road in Georgia on Aug. 17 as part of a march from Selma, AL, to Washington, DC, to commemorate the Bloody Sunday attacks in Selma 50 years ago. Rabbi Rosenberg, who walked in the march on Aug. 17, was among more than 150 rabbis who are taking turns along the way.

He said his colleagues who had already signed for the march, dubbed “America’s Journey off Justice” by the NAACP, were those who inspired him the most.

“Fundamentally it’s responding to the prophets’ call. The prophets call us to seek justice in the world. Some people believe that applies to just taking care of other Jews. Some of us believe it’s a universal call; I am one of those people.”

Each of the participating rabbis is taking turns carrying a Torah scroll the entire 860-mile trip. Along the way, various churches and groups have supported the march. One Baptist church insisted on cooking a large breakfast for the entire team, said Rabbi Rosenberg.


Rabbi Rosenberg let Keshia Thomas carry the Torah during a portion of his day marching. Thomas once protected a white supremisist from being attacked by protesters at a KKK rally. Rabbi Rosenberg let Keshia Thomas carry the Torah during a portion of his day marching. Thomas once protected a white supremisist from being attacked by protesters at a KKK rally. The rabbi was also joined by a bit of a celebrity. Not realizing at the time who she was, he noticed a woman who had a bubbly personality, tons of spirit and constant energy that she used to keep the group motivated and in line.

“On the march, she was this ball of energy; everyone loved her,” said Rabbi Rosenberg. “Somewhere during the march, I found out it was her.”

“Her” was Keshia Thomas, the young, African-American woman whose picture has widely circulated for years. In 1996, Thomas was just 18 years old when a photo was snapped of her protecting a white supremacist during a rally supporting the Ku Klux Klan in Ann Arbor, MI. In the photograph, she lay on top of the man to prevent him from being attacked; all the while his Confederate flag patch and SS tattoo were on display.

Rabbi Rosenberg said how humbled he felt to be among all of these people and shared what he hoped what his congregation in North Tampa and others would learn from his experience.

The first part was his wanting others to understand there really is racism left in our society. He felt some people don’t think that it’s there, that somehow the idea was made up in some people’s minds and we have somewhat moved on from something that had been woven into the fabric of our society from the beginning.

The second part?

“We have to do something about it. Sitting at home and feeling bad and fretting about it doesn’t help anything,” said Rabbi Rosenberg. “We have to do something.”


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