As the seat of the federal government, Washington, D.C., is the primary site where citizens have gathered in support of a cause or to air a grievance. The local Jewish community has long been active in social issues of national importance by attending and organizing rallies, protests, and demonstrations in the city.
During the 1950s and '60s, the Jewish Community Council placed civil rights at the forefront of its agenda. Some synagogues also became involved in civil rights issues, sponsoring programs about the problems of racial discrimination. During the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, the Jewish community assumed several roles. Some, including Jewish Community Council's executive director Isaac Franck (seen here in lower right corner), marched. Others provided food or shelter. Synagogues opened their doors to hundreds of student marchers, sleeping bags in tow.
During the 1970s and '80s, local synagogues and other organizations also rallied around the plight of Soviet Jewry. Jews living in the Soviet Union were persecuted and imprisoned for practicing Judaism or attempting to emigrate. Chief among the community's activities to protest the situation was a daily vigil across from the Soviet embassy on 16th Street, where Jewish community members and ecumenical supporters stood from 1970 to 1991.
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The Jewish Historical Society of Greater Washington and Washington Jewish Week celebrate Jewish American Heritage Month with weekly vignettes about local Jewish history.