Walk together children, don’t you get weary. ... Walk together children, don’t you get weary. ... Walk together children, don’t you get weary; There’s a great camp meeting in the Promised Land ....”
When the Religious Action Center, the political arm of the Reform Jewish movement, sent out the call for rabbis to join in the historic “America’s Journey for Justice” march for civil rights, Rabbi Rachel G. Greengrass was listening and answered the call.
From 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Aug. 29, Greengrass, an associate rabbi at Temple Beth Am in Pinecrest, covered 26 miles of the 860-mile trek, which began Aug. 1, in Selma, Alabama. Throughout the distance, she walked, prayed and carried the Torah in solidarity with the NAACP and other rabbis and clergy throughout the nation in the walk for justice. The Journey for Justice will end Tuesday, Sept. 15, in Washington, D.C.
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On Sept. 4, back in Miami with her family, Greengrass said, “I didn’t think twice when I saw the email [inviting rabbis to join the march]. “I very much identify with the Jewish call to justice and being a part of such a momentous demonstration,” she said. “I, along with hundreds of other rabbis, lend our support to the Voting Rights Act, which is slowly eroding.”
Greengrass who participated in the march as a member of Rabbis Organizing Rabbis (ROR), a subgroup of the Religious Action Center, said joining the walk was a “huge honor and opportunity to bring forth Torah (justice) into the world.”
She said the ROR seeks to build a powerful network of Reform Jews “who are praying with our feet through effective grassroots and legislative action on vital justice issues of our time.”
“I am so proud to be a member of this historic event and to walk alongside those working tirelessly for equal rights,” she said. “The demonstration is a call to justice for many things, such as criminal justice reform; quality education and fair wages.”
Greengrass is no stranger to human rights. She helped engage Temple Beth Am in local Gay Pride activities.
“I feel I have done a lot of things over the years for civil rights,” Greengrass said. “But the march was different. There was such a firm agenda — we know what we are trying to accomplish. This is organized and it goes well beyond politics. It is a march against injustice and it doesn’t matter if you are a Democrat or a Republican; where you live or what your income is.”
Although she marched for more than 20 miles, Greengrass said she didn’t do anything special to prepare. “I consider myself to be very fit. I work out regularly. But at the end of my walk, I was very sore. It wasn’t easy. Still, there are people who are walking for all 40 days, the entire 860 miles. It’s quite a feat.”
Greengrass said it is significant that the walk will finish in Washington on Tuesday, the second day of Rosh Hashanah. “Some rabbis who don’t have pulpits, will still walk on that day, which is amazing,” she said.
The 35-year-old mom of two, Henry 5, and Ezekiel, 3 (”He’s my little prophet,” she said of Ezekiel), said she had the support of her husband John Crary, who is a supervisor for educational support for Miami-Dade County Public Schools’ lowest-performing middle schools in math.
She is the granddaughter of a Holocaust survivor, and uses his name — Greengrass — to honor him. “He had two grandchildren; both girls,” she said. “I promised him that I would carry on his name.”