What does a small elementary school in the San Fernando Valley, our South LA hospital and health system, and the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. have in common? They all came together on January 13th to tie a historic knot of solidarity.
The Heschel Day School is a small Jewish community day school located nearly 40 miles away from South Los Angeles, in the largely suburban community of Northridge, California. As far away as the school might be from the harsh realities that many MLKCH patients wrestle with, it has a strong reason to care: the school’s namesake, Abraham Joshua Heschel, played an important role in our namesake’s long struggle for civil rights. Rabbi Heschel’s most visible demonstration of this role was his participation in the 54-mile Montgomery to Selma march, carrying the Torah the entire time.
It’s why several dozen Heschel Day elementary and middle school students between the ages of 4 and 13 organized their own Walk-a-Thon on January 13 to honor the memory of Dr King and to express their shared values. Holding up signs featuring the faces and famous slogans of the two faith leaders, the children marched in the street near their school in emulation of Heschel’s own famous walk by Dr. King’s side. The students by dedicated the proceeds of the fundraiser to MLK Community Healthcare’s efforts to improve health in South LA—“walking the walk” in every respect.