Our Si Dresner Honored by Pres. & Mrs. Obama

Our Si Dresner Honored by Pres. & Mrs. Obama

Pres. Barack Obama and Michelle Obama with Rabbi Israel Dresner and his son Avi at a White House reception marking the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington. White House photo by Chuck Kennedy

Rabbi Dresner shakes hands with Dr. Martin Luther King at Temple Sha’arey Shalom in 1963. Photo courtesy Jewish Historical Society of New Jersey

Our dear friend and colleague, Rabbi Israel (Si) Dresner, was honored recently at the White House by Pres. Obama and the First Lady, for his courageous civil rights activism in the 1960s.  As noted in the New Jersey Jewish News article beginning below, Si took the occasion to ask Pres. Obama to energetically pursue Israeli-Palestinian peace:

 Rabbi honored as veteran of civil rights era

The first time Rabbi Israel Dresner marched on Washington was in August of 1963, at the landmark March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.
At the time, Dresner was the religious leader at Temple Sha’arey Shalom in Springfield [N.J.] and a veteran of the civil rights movement. He had been arrested twice for challenging racial segregation in the deep South.
Earlier this month, he returned to the nation’s capital as one of several hundred movement veterans honored at the White House on the occasion of the march’s 50th anniversary. Dresner’s son, Avi, came as his guest.
When the 84-year-old rabbi had a chance to say a few words to Barack Obama as he shook the president’s hand, it was not to speak about racism in America.
“I took the opportunity to tell him, ‘Please do everything in your power to see to it that peace is made between the Israelis and the Palestinians,’” Dresner said. “Peace is not only desirable but it is possible, even though a lot of people have given up on its possibility.
“The president said to me, ‘You still have your passion.’”
Then Avi Dresner told Obama, “My father has always tried to speak truth to power.”
It is a practice the rabbi pursued as a Freedom Rider in June 1961. In a challenge to racial segregation on interstate bus routes, he joined an interracial group of 10 clergymen on a ride from the North to Tallahassee, Fla.
“We served a brief time in jail, about 30 hours, until we were bailed out,” he told NJ Jewish News. …
Dresner’s second arrest came a year later in Albany, Ga., where he first met the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
“Dr. King was in jail at the time and I shook his hand through the bars. I loved Dr. King. In Albany, Ga., I followed him around like a little puppy dog,” Dresner said.
The rabbi would be arrested two more times in 1964 during desegregation battles in Florida, in St. Augustine and Tallahassee.
His jail terms came during his 13 years at Temple Sha’arey Shalom, where he twice hosted King.

Click here for entire NJJN article online.

By | 2013-10-07T11:21:00-04:00 October 7th, 2013|Blog|1 Comment

One Comment

  1. Edward October 11, 2013 at 8:04 pm - Reply

    Biz a hundert un zvantsig to the Rabbi. He is my kinda rabbi, US-wise and Israel-wise. And thanks to PPI for yet another helpful action (distributing this).

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