"He [Dr. King] thinks a lot of you and the Jewish Theological Seminary"
—Wyatt Tee Walker, Executive Assistant to Martin Luther King Jr.

Letter from Martin Luther King Jr.'s Executive Assistant

Letter from Martin Luther King Jr.'s Executive Assistant


Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and The Jewish Theological Seminary: History and Legacy—January 17 through April 17, 2012, at The Library of The Jewish Theological Seminary

Sunday, January 15, will be the 83rd anniversary of the birth of Martin Luther King Jr., and the next day, as the nation observes Martin Luther King Jr. Day in commemoration of this great man and the spirit of justice, freedom, and dignity that he embodied, JTS and The Library will honor him with a new exhibition: Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and The Jewish Theological Seminary: History and Legacy, opening on Tuesday, January 17.

In 1964, JTS presented Dr. King—whose ties with Conservative Judaism were strong, particularly with rabbinical leaders who embraced the cause of civil rights, such as Abraham Joshua Heschel—with an honorary degree during its 70th commencement exercises. Beginning Tuesday, January 17, and running for three months, The Library will display material from its archives relating to Dr. King and his relationship to the institution and people of JTS, including programs, photos, and letters, such as the one in which Dr. King wrote to JTS professor Rabbi Seymour Siegel that he was proud "to be an honorary alumnus of The Jewish Theological Seminary." The exhibit also includes documentation of reactions by members of the JTS community to the assassination of Dr. King, such as the eulogy given by Rabbi Siegel at the memorial service JTS held for Dr. King the day after he died. "The light has been extinguished, the voice has been stilled, but the memory is here among us," Rabbi Siegel said. "When—because of it—we draw the strength and gain the wisdom to do what is right, then indeed—the Bible assures us—the memory of the righteous will be for a blessing."

Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and The Jewish Theological Seminary: History and Legacy will be held on the fifth floor of The Library, outside the Special Reading Room, from Tuesday, January 17, to April 17.

"King was able to stand for what he did, stand up against wrongdoing and violence as he did, because of the unshakable conviction that God wanted the civil rights struggle to succeed every bit as much as God wanted the Israelites to defeat Pharaoh."
—Chancellor Arnold M. Eisen in "King and Heschel: A Politics of Prophecy"

Dr. Heschel, Rabbi Eli A. Bohnen, and Dr. King at the Rabbinical
Assembly convention, two weeks prior to Dr. King's assassination.