Letters to the Editor

At Tucson Women’s March, ‘my legs were praying’

On Shabbat morning, Jan. 21, I joined 15,000 of my neighbors at the Women’s March in Tucson. Why did I participate in the march? Because the teachings of our Jewish tradition made it clear that I must.

Torah teaches that all of us are created in God’s image (Genesis 1:27), and that we must actively pursue justice and peace (Deuteronomy 16:20; Psalms 34:15). It tells us to love others as ourselves (Leviticus 19:18), and to love the foreigners who live among us and treat them as if they are citizens, for we too were once foreigners (Leviticus 19:34-35). The Talmud reminds us that “humiliating another is equal to shedding blood” (Baba Metzia 58b), and that “Whoever destroys another, it is as if he has destroyed an entire world. Whoever saves a life, it is as if he has saved the entire world.” (Sanhedrin 4:1)

In 1965, Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, one of the greatest Jewish theologians of the 20th century, marched with Martin Luther King, Jr. in Selma, Alabama. When he returned to his home, he was asked if he had time to pray in Selma. He responded that he “felt my legs were praying.”

On Shabbat mornings, I am usually in synagogue, saying kaddish for my mother who died last June. My mother participated in the civil rights movement in the 1960s, and fought her entire life for women to be treated as equals professionally and Jewishly. And so, this past Shabbat, I followed the example of Rabbi Heschel, and I too prayed, and said kaddish, with my legs.

­— Gila Silverman