Rabbi and Reverend Take to the Road to Witness America
Rev. Daryl Horton and Rabbi Neil Blumofe in Little Rock, Arkansas. Photos courtesy of #witnessonwheels
The idea of a road trip usually brings to mind adventure and laid-back good times. Recently, Congregation Agudas Achim’s Rabbi Neil Blumofe set out on a road trip of a different sort.
In early August, Blumofe and his friend Reverend Daryl Horton, youth pastor and assistant to the pastor at Mt. Zion Baptist Church, traveled together to witness as religious leaders “in space and conversation, speaking about antisemitism, racism, and intolerance and the ongoing dilemmas and opportunities of our great country and of our world.”
Blumofe and Horton kept a log of their journey on the Facebook page "Rev and Rabbi Road Trip—Summer, 2018." It can also be found by searching the hashtag: #witnessonwheels.
Blumofe said, “Our goal has been to model and demonstrate what is possible and encourage others to have similar experiences, certainly similar conversations.”
Blumofe and Horton began at the Holocaust Museum in Houston, then visited Congo Square in New Orleans; Selma, Montgomery, and Birmingham, Alabama; the National Museum for Civil Rights in Memphis; and then to Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas.
In the last video posted while on the trip, Horton said their car was where they learned more than any place else.
“Not just about each other, but I think we’ve learned a lot about relationships. We’ve had a lot of great discussions learning about each other’s communities,” he explained.
Blumofe and Horton ended their trip with a visit to Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas.
“We wanted to climb those steps into the white brick fortress, where the nine black students so bravely ascended in 1957, past the racist, shameful governor, past the state National Guardsmen, past the jeers and the spittle of their neighbors—all seeking to block their paths, with bullying tactics large and small, that some would call terrorism,” they posted on their Facebook page.
“They who walked with the uniformed airborne troops—today we walked with students and their parents, mostly of color, arriving for orientation. The doors were opened wide and we were welcomed,” they added.
As they drove home to Austin Aug. 3, Blumofe concluded,
“To me that’s one of the ways that we can further these conversations, is recognizing the importance of education and applying that education no matter where we might be able to stand up for what we think is right, and to honor each other in ways that prove that our country specifically and our understanding of morality and ethics speaks about the joy and inherent worth of every person.”
Horton plans to join Blumofe at CAA, and Blumofe plans to join Horton at Mt. Zion Baptist Church, to share thoughts and experiences of their travels together. In early August, immediately after returning from the trip, Blumofe spoke about their experiences while engaging the Vincent Valdez piece, The City, as part of a Views and Brews panel at The Blanton Museum of Art.
“The conversation is not over. It has just really begun,” said Blumofe in the last video taken on the trip. He is also planning to write about the road trip and a July witness trip to Laredo as part of a d'var Torah for the High Holy Days. Horton will join the discussion on Rosh Hashanah.
Blumofe and Horton will speak together again at the Interfaith Action of Central Texas fall fundraiser A Night Under One Sky Tuesday, Oct. 9, at Umlauf Sculpture Garden. ■
For tickets to the event, visit interfaithtexas.org/events/a-night-under-one-sky-2018-2.