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Sixty years later, a Jew trained to keep the peace remembers the March on Washington
Harvey Burg was a 22-year-old interning in Washington in August 1963 when he saw a call for volunteers. There was an upcoming civil rights demonstration on the National Mall. He jumped at the opportunity.
Burg was standing less than 200 feet away from Martin Luther King Jr. as he delivered his “I have a dream” speech. Our Louis Keene spoke with him about why he volunteered, what he remembers about that day, and how it sparked his own career fighting for civil rights.
Shared history: “Being born Black was like being Jewish — you couldn’t do anything about it,” Burg said. “It’s hard to articulate it, but knowing what happened to us as Jews by the Nazis, I didn’t want to live in a society that discriminated.”
Passover parenting: Burg, who later became a partner at the first integrated law firm in Alabama, is often reminded of the Seder, when parents teach children the story of the Exodus as if they themselves were being freed from slavery. Quoting the philosopher George Santayana, Burg said, “Those who don’t know history are condemned to repeat it. So in every generation, we have the duty to educate, and we as Jews especially want to educate about equality.”
Modern incarnation: “I have been very excited to see the millions of demonstrators in Israel, people coming out for principles of equality, tolerance and all those things that are part and parcel of the civil rights values,” Burg said of this year’s protests against Israel’s judicial overhaul. “That gives me great hope.”
Larry David would surely have strong opinions on mezuzah hygiene, placement and frequency throughout one’s home. (HBO/Forward collage)
You can own Larry David’s mezuzah — and all the questions that come with it: The piece of Judaica claiming to have belonged to the creator of Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm, is for sale on eBay for $15,000. In a way it’s surprising that David, whose stringent and unspoken social strictures could fill new tractates of Talmud, bothered to ornament his house with this traditional Jewish object. “This comes with its own points of inquiry,” ponders our PJ Grisar. Read the story ➤
Antisemites’ new tactic? Create chaos at city council meetings: The Anti-Defamation League documented three dozen examples in nine states where extremists, often associated with the Goyim Defense League, tried to hijack public meetings with hate speech. The ADL has advice on responding. Read the story ➤
Why Donald Trump’s latest indictment reminds a historian of Mel Brooks’ The Producers: Brooks described his show as “two schnooks on Broadway” who set out to produce a flop, Springtime for Hitler, and swindle the backers. “Donald Trump,” argues Rob Zaretsky, “after a long career of defrauding customers and contractors, planned to defraud tens of millions of Americans not of their money, but instead of their votes,” adding that it may prove to be “a dress rehearsal for the opening of Wintertime for America.” Read the essay ➤
WHAT ELSE YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY
A businessman purchased an abandoned building in Poland, and discovered a mikvah underneath. (Ofer Aderet)
? A mikvah was discovered in the basement of former strip club in Poland. “It’s astonishing,” said one preservationist. “You’re in another world. It’s like a time capsule.” (JTA)
? The Israel Defense Forces launched a manhunt Wednesday for a suspected Palestinian gunman who allegedly opened fire at settlers in the northern West Bank. Nobody was injured in the incident. (Times of Israel)
?? The first GOP presidential primary debate is set for tonight. Here’s what you need to know about Vivek Ramaswamy, the candidate who suggested ending aid to Israel. (JTA)
✍️ A new Texas law, pushed by Christian nationalist activists, allows public schools to hire chaplains. More than 100 chaplains on Tuesday signed a letter to local school boards to convince them it was a bad idea that could harm students. (Religion News Service)
?? A Hungarian Orthodox community that produced several rabbinic dynasties has fallen on hard financial times. A local Chabad offered them a lifeline, but some see it as a takeover. (Times of Israel)
Mazel tov ➤ To Ed Siskel, nephew of the late film critic Gene Siskel, on being named the new White House Counsel.
Shiva call ➤ Andrea Pancur, a Catholic who bridged klezmer music and the folk songs of her native Bavaria, died at 54.
What else we’re reading ➤ The Jewish governor of Hawaii sees lessons far beyond Maui in recent disaster … A pastrami sandwich is a new star of Tokyo’s hip food scene … Novelist proves Regency romance can be delightfully Jewish.
Ethan Zohn, left, and the creator of ‘Survivor,’ Mark Burnett after the season three finale in 2002. (Getty)
On this day in history (2000): The first season of the hit CBS reality television Survivor ended. In the show’s third season, Ethan Zohn became the first Jewish contestant to compete for the $1,000,000 prize — and he ended up winning. In a 2019 interview, Zohn credited his Survivor win to the selflessness and leadership he learned “growing up within the Jewish people.”
Happy 47th birthday to actor Scott Caan, son of the late James Caan.
Israeli badminton athletes Misha Zilberman, 34, and his mom, Svetlana Zilberman, 65, walk to the court before their mixed doubles round against a Chinese team on Tuesday at the Badminton World Championships in Copenhagen. They lost the match.
Thanks to PJ Grisar, Beth Harpaz, Louis Keene, Jacob Kornbluh, Rebecca Salzhauer and Talya Zax for contributing to today’s newsletter. You can reach the “Forwarding” team at [email protected].