March for Racial Justice won’t change Yom Kippur date but wants to include Jews
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March for Racial Justice won’t change Yom Kippur date but wants to include Jews

Organizers apologize for scheduling mishap, say they are seeking permits for 'sister marches' after the holiday ends

Illustrative: Protesters listen during a 'Peace and Sanity' rally Sunday Aug. 13, 2017, in the Brooklyn borough of New York, during a rally about white supremacy violence in Charlottesville, Va. (AP/Bebeto Matthews)
Illustrative: Protesters listen during a 'Peace and Sanity' rally Sunday Aug. 13, 2017, in the Brooklyn borough of New York, during a rally about white supremacy violence in Charlottesville, Va. (AP/Bebeto Matthews)

Citing the “horrifying” events in Charlottesville as well as US President Donald Trump’s likening of the neo-Nazis who marched there to left-wing anti-fascist activists, organizers of the March for Racial Justice announced Wednesday that they were working on ways to include Jewish activists in their rally, scheduled to take place on Yom Kippur.

In a lengthy statement, the group said it was unaware that the September 30 date it chose for the march is also the Jewish Day of Atonement.

The March for Racial Justice describes itself as “a multi-community movement led by a coalition united in our demands for racial equity and justice.”

“Choosing this date, we now know, was a grave and hurtful oversight on our part. It was unintentional and we are sorry for this pain as well as for the time it has taken for us to respond,” the organizers’ statement said.

Below is a statement regarding the march date following on Yom Kippur.We know that choosing this date was a grave and…

Posted by Tigre Di Forlivo on Wednesday, 16 August 2017

They added that in light of Saturday’s events in Charlottesville, where a 20-year-old far-right activist rammed a car into a crowd of counter-protesters, killing one woman and injuring at least 19 others, “we understand more than ever the need for unity against those who hate us in our many identities.”

“We have learned from our Jewish friends that Yom Kippur is a day of making amends and of asking and receiving forgiveness,” the statement continued.

Despite the apology, the organizers said that the march would take place on the 30th as planned. However, they added that the group is working on ways to incorporate the Jewish community after sundown when Yom Kippur ends, or on the following day.

They are currently in the process of acquiring permits for “sister marches” to take place the following day in New York City as well as other locations throughout the US, they said.

“We’re committed to working together with the Jewish community throughout the year and every year until true justice for all of us is won,” the statement concluded.

The march has come under fire for the scheduling mishap over the past week from Jewish activists, including actress Mayim Bialik.

just found out that the March for Racial Justice (https://www.facebook.com/events/1601595086527066/) is on YOM KIPPUR in…

Posted by Mayim Bialik on Sunday, 13 August 2017

In a Facebook post Sunday, Bialik complained that the timing of the march against white supremacy excludes Jews, who traditionally spend Yom Kippur fasting and praying.

Mayim Bialik loves Elvis Costello. And her husband. (Mayim Bialik image via Shutterstock)
Mayim Bialik (via Shutterstock)

“anyone else think that’s absurd?,” she wrote in a mostly lowercase text. “i mean, it automatically excludes a distinct portion of people who historically have stood up for racial equality in enormous ways.”

Bialik, a star of “The Big Bang Theory” TV sitcom who publicly embraces her Jewish identity and practice, doubted that the scheduling was an oversight, saying “And trust me: it’s on every calendar they checked before setting the date.”

Earlier that day, the march organizers posted their own statement on Facebook in which they apologized for the “scheduling conflict” and voiced appreciation for the Jews’ history of progressive activism. They repeatedly singled out Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, who famously marched alongside the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in the 1965 civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama.

However, then too, the organizers made clear there were no plans to reschedule the march. They explained that the date had been chosen to honor the 1919 Elaine race riot, in which white mobs attacked and killed dozens of African-Americans in Arkansas.

JTA contributed to this report.

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