(JTA/JNS) — Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel made the news January 6th morning when Raphael Warnock, the Democrat who won one of two Georgia Senate elections January 5th, invoked the rabbi during an interview on CNN.
“I think Abraham Joshua Heschel, the rabbi who said, when he marched with Dr. King, he felt like his legs were praying, I think he and Dr. King are smiling in this moment,” said Warnock, who will be Georgia’s first-ever Black senator.
Warnock was referring to the 1965 march by civil rights leaders from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama. Martin Luther King, Jr. invited Heschel to take a position of honor with him at the front of the march, and Heschel later said about the experience, “I prayed with my feet.”
At the time, JTA reported that hundreds of marchers wore yarmulkes out of respect for the rabbis who were participating in the demonstrations. Five rabbis were put in jail for participating in the march, and they recited Hebrew prayers from their cells.
Warnock referred to the march, and the supportive relationship between Jewish and Black Americans that it epitomized, multiple times on the campaign trail, including in an ad produced by the Jewish Democratic Council of America.
“You’ve got a young Jewish man, an African American pastor, running together with shared values, shared commitment,” Warnock said in the campaign ad, which showed footage of him and Jewish Democrat Jon Ossoff campaigning together. The video also showed 1960s newsreel items, including the murder of three voting rights activists — two Black and one Jewish — in Mississippi.
Democrat Jon Ossoff has defeated incumbent Republican Sen. David Perdue in one of the two U.S. Senate runoffs held in Georgia on Tuesday to determine which party would control the upper congressional chamber, media organizations projected on January 6th.
With ninety eight percent of votes reporting and ballots from Democratic areas still expected, Ossoff won with 50.3 percent, while Perdue received 49.7 percent.
With his victory, Ossoff, 33, became the first Jewish person elected to the Senate from Georgia.
“I’m very proud of Georgia right now,” Warnock told CNN today. “That we are sending an African American man, the pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church where Martin Luther King, Jr. served and John Lewis worshipped, and Jon Ossoff, a young Jewish man, the son of an immigrant, mentored by John Lewis, to the United States Senate.”