Creating a Just World | IFCJ
Skip Navigation

Creating a Just World

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., April 27, 1967

January 17, 2019

Dear Friend of Israel,

In his 1963 address to the National Conference of Christians and Jews, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., issued a clear challenge to people of faith:

We must affirm that every human life is a reflex of divinity, and every act of injustice mars and defaces the image of God in man. The undergirding philosophy of segregation is diametrically opposed to the undergirding philosophy of our Judeo-Christian heritage, and all the dialectics of the logicians cannot make them lie down together.

Note that Dr. King was addressing Christians and Jews, who he saw as natural allies. United by “the undergirding philosophy of our Judeo-Christian heritage,” members of both faiths were duty-bound to join together in the fight against the evil of racial segregation.

At the same conference, for the first time Dr. King met Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, one of the leading Jewish thinkers of the 20th century and a mentor and inspiration to me personally. Rabbi Heschel shared Dr. King's conviction that securing equal rights for African Americans was a moral imperative. This led him to march with Dr. King and other civil rights leaders to protest institutionalized discrimination in American society – and it led Dr. King and Rabbi Heschel to become friends.

Just as Rabbi Heschel fully supported the cause of freedom for African Americans, Dr. King was a staunch friend of the Jewish people. He understood deeply not just their historic struggles chronicled in the Bible and the pages of history, but their modern search for freedom as a newly-established nation: the modern state of Israel. And he saw the Jewish state for what it is, a modern, vibrant, democratic state seeking to live in peace among nations that deny its very existence.

Dr. King and Rabbi Heschel’s personal friendship was built on a spiritual foundation – as was their pubic struggle for justice for African Americans. As the U.S. observes Martin Luther King Day this coming Monday, let us remember that, as Jews and Christians, we must reject racial prejudice and hatred wherever we see it, speak out against injustice, and remember that we are united not just by common interests, but by shared tenets of our respective faiths.

May we follow the example of Dr. King and Rabbi Heschel as we move forward, always seeking God’s blessing as we work together to create a more just world.

With prayers for shalom, peace,


Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
Founder and President

Download Rabbi Eckstein’s free booklet, Frontlines of Faith, and explore the historical and spiritual bonds between African-Americans and Jews

IDF medical staff helps child

A Country with a Big Heart

While the world so often focuses on Israel’s faults — be they real or imagined — the true heritage of the Jewish state and her people is one of peace, freedom, and helping those in need.

Read More

Rabbi Eckstein at Auschwitz

We Remember, We Act

As we remember the terrible legacy of the Holocaust, we act to create a legacy of hope that provides Holocaust survivors in Israel and the former Soviet Union with a measure of peace and comfort in their twilight years.

Read More

Rabbi Eckstein praying at Sea of Galilee

Wise Ears and Understanding Hearts

In the noisy and politically charged world we find ourselves in today, let us remember that works of man rise and fall, but that true freedom is found in trusting in God. Only then will we truly understand what it means to “live in...

Read More