Jane West Walsh, EdD

Rabbi Heschel is quoted as having said we must fight nihilism. He meant it then, and if he were alive today, he would mean it now.

Connecting Cultures for Peace
Baltimore, Maryland
A Jewish Perspective

Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel’s legacy is not only his scholarship, but also his leadership as he marched with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and taught us to pray with our feet. I learned from Dr. Susannah Heschel that as she grew up, she was able to watch and learn as those two great men of their age became friends, ate together, prayed together, and spoke out for one another time and time again.  I learned this through my involvement in launching a new nonprofit, Connecting Cultures for Peace. Our founder and president began this organizational journey with a conversation between Dr. Susannah Heschel and Rabbi Capers Funnye (with whom she often presents). We are inspired by and learning from the mid–20th century relationship between Heschel and King. There is so much more to learn about this era and their leadership. 

For me, this is one of the key emotional links to my ability to stay the course today as I seek to address and confront the rising tide of hate speech and violence against Jews, against people of color, against people who are different, against outsiders, against anyone who is not white.  Rabbi Heschel is quoted as having said we must fight nihilism. He meant it then, and if he were alive today, he would mean it now. Connecting Cultures for Peace is an organization of like-minded people who seek out ways to stay the course, fight nihilism, and never give up as the challenges befall us. I believe this is one of Heschel’s greatest gifts to me personally and to all of us who seek support each day as we awake to the frightening news of the day. To this legacy, I am ever grateful. 

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