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A Civil Rights Encounter Never to Be Forgotten

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Five Teens

I could have sworn I was at a Holocaust memorial.

The National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, AL is a powerful reminder of generations of violence waged in our country.  And the Legacy Museum that accompanies it gives voice to the stories of oppression that have scarred our nation’s history.  Both serve to inspire a new era of justice and peace, underscoring the need for partnerships across race and religion.

That’s why I’m so excited to work with Pastor Joyce Hatch of New Mount Pilgrim Missionary Baptist Church on the Civil Rights Encounter.  Jewish teens of all races and members of a historic African American church on Chicago’s west side will explore the history of the Civil Rights movement and its meaning for all Americans today.  

Here are a few highlights we’re most excited about:

16th St. Baptist Church in Birmingham, AL

—The site of the infamous attack that left four girls dead, one child scarred for life, and a nation forever changed.


Temple Mishkan Israel in Selma, AL

—Half a mile from the famous Edmund Pettus Bridge, the local leaders of this temple offer a historical account of the dilemmas facing Southern Jews during the 1950s and 1960s.

The Freedom Rides Museum in Montgomery, AL

—A passionate educator offers a vivid retelling of the dramatic efforts of the Freedom Riders in the preserved Greyhound bus station where the major action took place.

Ebenezer Baptist Church and The Temple in Atlanta, GA

—Two prominent houses of worship that will give participants the opportunity to pray and reflect on the relationships they’ve built, the history they’ve encountered, and the commitments they’re ready to make.

Pastor Hatch and I are thrilled to offer this opportunity to Chicago-area teens, and we look forward on embarking on this one-in-a-lifetime journey with you.

Daniel Kirzane is the associate rabbi at Oak Park Temple in Oak Park, IL.   Oak Park Temple is a progressive, near-urban Reform congregation dedicated to expansive welcoming of people of all backgrounds.  Rabbi Kirzane is an alum of the Wexner Graduate Fellowship and the CLAL: Rabbis Without Borders Fellowship, he is on the rabbinic cabinet of T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights, and he serves in alumni leadership positions for the Wexner Graduate Fellowship and the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion.