by Haya Luftig
July 18, New York – The Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA) mourns the death of civil rights leader Congressman John Lewis who died from cancer. He was a true hero and beacon of hope. He will be sorely missed.
JCPA and the Jewish Community Relations Council in Atlanta worked closely with Representative John Lewis for decades in advancing civil rights. “John was an unwavering ally of the Jewish community. His most sincere, heartfelt love was for humanity. Not only HIS people, ALL people seeking justice” stated Lois Frank, past JCPA chair and a friend of the Congressman for many years. “For a man of such celebrity this humble and gracious spirit prevailed. His neshama was pure…one of a kind.”
Congressman Lewis was not only a voice for the Black community but spoke out against discrimination and hate against all people. “Once people begin to see the similarities between themselves and others, instead of focusing on differences, they come to recognize that equality is essentially a matter of human rights and human dignity,” he stated.
In 2008, Congressman Lewis received the JCPA’s Tikkun Olam Award: Partner in Repairing the World which recognizes individuals who demonstrate a deep commitment and extraordinary effort to improving the lives of people everywhere and who embody the Jewish principle of Tikkun Olam.
Congressman Lewis had close ties to Jewish leaders throughout his lifetime and remained dedicated to advancing civil rights and Black-Jewish relations. Most recently JCPA applauded and supported the creation of the Congressional Caucus on Black-Jewish relations, which he helped launch and played an active role in.
Last year, JCPA organized a civil rights mission to Atlanta and Alabama where we remembered the courageous activism of the Congressman as we marched across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma Alabama where he risked his life in 1965 to advocate for voting rights for Black Americans.
“The best way to honor Congressman Lewis is to join people of color and redouble our effort to ending racial disparity in America,” stated David Bernstein, JCPA’s President and CEO. “His work and legacy live on in our work.”
JCPA continues to stand in solidarity with the Black community working together for justice and equal opportunity and against hate, racism, antisemitism and bigotry.