History does not look too kindly on George Wallace.
In recent films, like Selma, he is portrayed as a villain. His history of losing presidential races earned him the nickname “the most influential loser” in American politics.
If the name doesn’t ring a bell, he’s the Alabama governor that stood head to head with the National Guard, proclaiming “segregation today, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever.” He’s the man that accused John F. Kennedy of “surrendering” Alabama to Martin Luther King.
Wallace was on my mind a few weeks ago, when we commemorated Martin Luther King Day. And he was on my mind when I read Elizabeth Kratz’s editorial this week (“RCBC Draws ‘Boundary Line’ on Women Rabbis,” February 6, 2019).
“How many Orthodox shuls are there in Teaneck and Bergenfield now?” she asks. “Nineteen. How many have ever trained female rabbis? One.”
Segregation now. Segregation tomorrow. Segregation forever.
But his story has something of a happy ending. Years later, Wallace recognized the error of his ways, realized that he stood on the wrong side of history. Even though the majority of Alabama at that time, or at least, “most white people of Alabama at the time” thought “that segregation was right,” Wallace learned to change his view.
It may be a stretch to compare the two issues, but I don’t think it’s that far of a stretch. Change happens when people are willing to make change happen—and those people always start in the minority. Even if Ms. Kratz’s personal experience with women doesn’t lead her to believe they are up for the job, many of us do believe that.
If we can create an RCBC that supports all 19 shuls, including the one today that supports female rabbinic interns, then we can create an RCBC for now, an RCBC for tomorrow, an RCBC for forever. An RCBC for all of us.Eli Feldblum